Read the report from Blues' first round defeat to Leyton Orient at Roots Hall...Southend United U18s 0-6 Leyton Orient U18s; The FA Youth Cup First Round Proper; Roots Hall; Wednesday 2nd November 2016; Kick-Off 7:30am
By Robert Craven
Southend United U18s were knocked out of The FA Youth Cup at the First Round stage for the first time since 2012 after a comprehensive defeat to an impressive Leyton Orient side at Roots Hall.
After electing to make a series of changes for the visit of Gillingham to Boots & Laces at the weekend, youth team coach Dave Huzzey named seven of the club’s eight second-year scholars in the starting line-up for the knockout clash as Blues sought to reach the Third Round of the competition for the third consecutive season.
However, the hosts ran into an Orient side in an outstanding run of form after winning all eleven of their EFL Youth Alliance South East Conference fixtures to date as well as reaching the Southern Section Quarter-Finals of the Youth Alliance Cup.
The O’s took the lead through Tristan Abrahams, who scored twice inside three minutes, and before half-time they had further extended their advantage with another two goals from Sam Dalby and Josh Koroma. Substitute Ruel Sotiriou and Dalby again completed the 6-0 win in the closing stages to inflict Southend’s biggest FA Youth Cup defeat since a 9-0 February 2011 reverse to Liverpool at Anfield.
From the outset the visitors appeared hungry to establish a lead, and Steven Alzate saw a second-minute effort blocked following good build-up play by Koroma and Abrahams. Within sixty seconds, Henry Ochieng’s challenge on Damani Dias at one end had swiftly been converted into an Abrahams strike that Dru Yearwood did well to block.
Lewis Gard was apprehended by defender Myles Judd in the twelfth minute, but Blues had still yet to register a shot at goal when Orient moved ahead on 15 minutes. Dalby’s pass released Koroma on the right-hand side of the penalty area, and although he was denied by Nathan Bishop’s parried stop, the goalkeeper was unfortunate to see Abrahams waiting to tap in from close range.
The O’s wasted little time in extending their advantage. Abrahams was again the goalscorer, this time netting with a superb solo effort. Having picked up possession some 25 yards from goal, he advanced to the edge of the penalty area before brilliantly curling beyond Bishop via the base of the left-hand upright.
With their opponents dictating the play, Blues needed to establish a foothold in the game and, despite that seeming unlikely on 25 minutes when Koroma dragged a shot wide of the post, they finally unfurled a shot when Gard saw a 20-yard effort deflected wide for a corner kick two minutes later.
Sensing that this was their opportunity to get back into the encounter, Southend almost scored just seconds later when a corner was met by Sewa Marah, climbing above O’s custodian Sam Roach, and skipper Elvis Bwomono sliced his half-volley wide.
Marah himself then got the better of Rian McLean, only to arrow his attempt into Roach’s gloves with the outside of his right boot. That passage of play was all the incentive Orient needed to step up a gear, and Dalby held off the attentions of Zak Pianim to fire past Bishop in the 33rd minute and make it 3-0.
Three minutes later Southend trailed by four. This time Koroma was the goalscorer, darting in from the right-hand side before smashing the ball into the bottom left-hand corner of Bishop’s goal from an acute angle. It remained 4-0 until half-time, even though a stoppage time set-piece routine involving Alzate and Pat Adamson ended with Abrahams drilling the ball narrowly wide.
A half-time substitution saw Imani Matthews replace Gard, with Blues sacrificing a midfielder for a second forward in a bid to fight their way back into the encounter. Orient had surrendered a three-goal lead against Luton at the weekend before emerging 5-3 winners, but this time there was no complacency or vulnerability in the away side.
Dalby and Koroma combined to set up Abrahams, but his effort was grabbed at the second attempt by Bishop, who made another smart stop in the 56th minute to prevent Abrahams from completing a hat-trick. Koroma then sent a fierce strike whistling past the left-hand angle of post and crossbar after sprinting away from Joe Mackenzie as Orient confirmed their intentions to inflict further misery on their hosts.
Eren Kinali and Harry Cuthbert were rewarded for fine recent displays by being introduced in place of Dias and Ben Musselwhite, and they worked hard to try and keep the second half scoreline level. Winger Alex Clark attempted to weave his magic after a switch to the left flank, but he found himself continually frustrated and instead Orient ended strongly.
Abrahams was again thwarted by Bishop in the 79th minute, but the O’s finally grabbed their fifth goal a six minutes later through substitute Sotiriou. The forward had barely been on the pitch for a matter of seconds when he latched onto a Dalby pass and calmly slotted home.
There was one final goal to come for Orient as they marched into the Second Round thanks to Dalby, who curled home sweetly via the left-hand upright to deservedly cap an excellent performance with a personal brace. Blues now turn their attentions back to league action, and a trip to AFC Wimbledon on Saturday morning.
Southend United U18s: Nathan Bishop, Elvis Bwomono, Tom Clifford, Ben Musselwhite (Harry Cuthbert, 76), Joe Mackenzie, Zak Pianim, Alex Clark, Dru Yearwood, Sewa Marah, Lewis Gard (Imani Matthews, 46), Damani Dias (Eren Kinali, 63). Substitutes not used: Harry Seaden, Taylor Curran.
Cautioned: Musselwhite (45, foul tackle), Yearwood (48, foul tackle).