Classy Arsenal put five past Leyton Orient in entertaining pre-season friendly
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
Pre-season friendly: Leyton Orient 1 Arsenal under-23s 5
Arsenal’s under-23s proved too strong for Leyton Orient on a warm night at Brisbane Road, but the pre-season friendly between two London rivals turned out to be a worthwhile exercise for both clubs.
The O’s head coach Steve Davis would have seen plenty of positives from his team despite the emphatic 5-1 scoreline.
While the classy play of the Arsenal kids suggests their academy continues to produce talented youngsters.
Davis picked a fairly strong team to face the Gunners with Orient’s back four looking like the defence which will face Sutton United on Saturday.
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Charlie Grainger was in goal with Jake Caprice, Josh Coulson, George Elokobi and Joe Widdowson in front of him.
New signing James Dayton started on the left, with Henry Ochieng and Rian McLean getting a chance in the middle of the park.
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Josh Koroma lined up on the right with David Mooney and Tristan Abrahams, now of Norwich City, up top.
Steve Gatting’s under-23s included Carl Jenkinson and Mathieu Debuchy in their starting XI along with talented youngsters Chuba Akpom and Cohen Bramall.
And it was Arsenal who started brilliantly in E10 and Akpom should have scored after 60 seconds, but he was denied by Grainger.
Left wing-back Bramall got forward moments later and forced the first corner of the game, which produced the first goal.
Orient failed to clear Jon Toral’s cross and Krystian Bielik was first to the rebound, smashing into the top corner from eight-yards.
It was not ideal for O’s who had looked nervous and slightly surprised at the fast pace in which Arsenal had started the game.
Davis’ side did settle afterwards and Dayton saw a shot blocked in the 12th minute after Koroma’s cross wasn’t cleared properly by the Gunners.
Arsenal showed their class again two minutes later though, as Akpom and Jeff Reine-Adelaide combined wonderfully to create a second.
Akpom passed into Reine-Adelaide’s path and he scooped the ball over the Orient back four for the Arsenal number nine to slide into the bottom corner.
Even the O’s supporters applauded the effort, but with less than quarter of an hour played, the hosts were trailing by two goals.
It was too easy for the Premier League outfit at this stage, though Davis was making his feelings clear on the touchline.
The Orient head coach would have been happier with what he saw past the hour mark as Koroma’s influence grew.
O’s number 11 battled well on the right and won a corner, which he took and found McLean, but the youngster headed wide.
Minutes later and Koroma did well again out wide, winning the ball back before getting Orient on the front foot.
Widdowson then helped the hosts create one of their best openings of the game in the 27th minute when he forced Jenkinson into a mistake.
The left-back found Dayton and he picked out Mooney, but the club captain couldn’t beat Matt Macey from 25-yards.
Play was halted just past the half an hour mark when Canning Town-born Akpom went down and needed treatment.
When referee Darren Deadman got proceedings back underway, Koroma again did well, winning the ball back before having a shot blocked behind for a corner.
Dayton’s delivery was dangerous too, but Orient were unable to make the most of it and Akpom was replaced by Donyell Malen in the 34th minute after failing to shake off an injury.
Although O’s had improved vastly, the Gunners showed their threat six minutes before the break when Jenkinson’s cross was a whisker away from getting a decisive touch.
Mooney went close again just before the break when Koroma crossed in for the forward and he curled past the post.
But it was Arsenal who had the final say on the half and it was a strike to savour for Stephy Mavididi.
The Gunners number 11 smashed into the top corner from just outside the area after patient play by the visitors.
It was a disappointing end to the first-half for Orient, although Arsenal fully deserved to be ahead.
Davis made 11 changes at the break with Alex Lawless wearing the captain’s armband and O’s started brightly.
Jobi McAnuff whizzed an effort just over early in the second-half before Rommy Boco cut back for Macauley Bonne to curl just past the post.
It was much better from Orient, although Arsenal did turn it on just before the hour mark when Bramall picked out Jenkinson at the back-post.
The former West Ham United loanee got his effort all wrong, however, and fired off target, though Michael Clark cleared anyway.
Unfortunately for O’s the class of the visitors was about to be demonstrated again after 65 minutes.
Malen got forward well on the left and crossed in for Jenkinson to smash in from close range.
The full-back nearly added a second minutes later, but his firm drive was grabbed by Sam Sargeant.
Despite the flurry of chances for Arsenal, Orient were playing with much more belief and confidence in the second half.
Lawless showed his ability in the 68th minute with a powerful strike, which Matt Macey had to push over.
And with 20 minutes remaining the 2,006 crowd saw an Orient goal and it occurred after a great move.
Dan Happe, playing at left-back, produced a wonderful cross-field ball to McAnuff on the right and the winger picked out Bonne, who diverted past Macey.
It boosted O’s confidence even more and Clay tried his luck four minutes later, but drilled just over.
Arsenal’s clinical edge in front of goal was the difference and they showed it again 11 minutes from time.
Eddie Nketiah embarked on a sensational run and was denied twice by Sargeant, but it was a case of third-time lucky, as the talented youngsters back heel found a way into the corner.
Orient deserved more than just the one goal and should have added another in the 87th minute after more lovely play.
Craig Clay picked out Myles Judd smartly on the right and the full-back found Boco in space.
The former Accrington Stanley winger looked up and chipped into the area, but O’s McAnuff could only head over from close range.
It was another encouraging move by Orient and despite the scoreline there were plenty of positives for them to take.
Referee Deadman didn’t add on any stoppage time and brought play to a halt to warm applause from the Brisbane Road crowd.
O’s will obviously hope for a much better result away to Sutton United on Saturday, but could be pleased with the work-out they received from Arsenal.
Head coach Davis will have plenty to ponder ahead of the National League opener at Gander Green Lane this weekend.
Leyton Orient: Grainger (Sargeant 46); Caprice (Judd 46), Coulson (Sendles-White 46), Elokobi (Clark 46), Widdowson (Happe 46); Koroma (Boco 46), Ochieng (Clay 46), McLean (Lawless 46), Dayton (McAnuff 46); Mooney (Moncur 46), Abrahams (Bonne 46).
Unused substitutes: Pollock, Alderson, Barker.
Arsenal under-23s: Macey; Bielik (Johnson 46), Debuchy, Pleguezuelo; Jenkinson, Toral, Reine-Adelaide (McGuane 71), Bramall (Mourgos 71); Nketiah, Akpom (Malen 34), Mavididi.
Unused substitutes: Huddart.
Attendance: 2,006 (140 Arsenal supporters).