EFL Trophy (Southern Group E)
LEYTON ORIENT 2 FULHAM U-21S 2
(Leyton Orient won 5-4 on penalties)
JOHN CHUBB at Brisbane Road
Idris El Mizouni proved to be the hero of the night for Leyton Orient, scoring a last gasp equaliser and the decisive penalty in the resulting shootout as the East Londoners edged out an enthusiastic under-21 side from Premier League Fulham, in what turned out to be a lively and entertaining contest.
O’s head coach Richie Wellens saw this match as an opportunity to give game time to a number of his fringe players – although several of the squad involved in Saturday’s 1-1 League One draw at Peterborough United started on the bench, only Theo Archibald was retained in the starting line-up from the one that kicked off at London Road on Saturday, against a youthful Fulham side managed by former West Ham United midfielder Hayden Mullins, who took on the role of under-21 boss at Craven Cottage a couple of months ago.
Orient took the lead in the 9th minute with the first scoring chance either side had created. Ulsterman Ethan Galbraith was responsible for some clever build -up play before coming into the penalty box and trickily placing a shot past Fulham goalkeeper Alex Borto, to score his first goal for the O’s since his move to E10 in the summer, following his release from Manchester United.
With a quarter of an hour gone Orient skipper Dan Happe had a decent opportunity to double his side’s lead from close range, but he fired his effort side to Borto’s left.
And six minutes later Zach Obiero curled an effort wide, as the more experienced home side continued to apply pressure on their young opponents.
Fulham had their first decent chance when Aaron Loupalo-Bi looked to be through on goal before an excellent intervention from Orient’s Ed Turns thwarted him.
Then, as the half-hour mark approached a well-placed pass at the other end from Obeiro found Aaron Drinan, who successfully founded Borto but his shot hit the post and bounced out of play.
Fulham staged a 37th minute attack, before a long range effort from their captain Matthew Dilbey-Dias was dealt with reasonably comfortably by O’s keeper Sam Howes.
As the first half entered injury time, Fulham were pushing forward, and were rewarded with an equaliser when Kristian Sekularac drove the ball past Howes to make it 1-1.
Jayden Sweeney went close for the hosts shortly afterwards, but the score remained 1-1 at the interval.
Orient boss Wellens made a half-time substitution, bringing on experienced summer signing Joe Pigott in place of Aaron Drinan up front.
But it was another O’s player, namely winger Archibald who had the home team’s first scoring chance of the second period, although he saw saw his left:footed strike travel side of the left-hand post, after being set up by the impressive Galbraith.
Archibald made way for 18 year old midfielder Charlie Pegrum not long afterwards, as Wellens made his second substitution of the night.
But Fulham grabbed the lead just before the hour,when Oliver O’Neill found himself in acres of.space and fired past Howes into the top corner to put the visitors 2-1 in front.
The Whites were clearly buoyed by going in front, and as the game entered the final 20 minutes the O’s defence were kept busy as Fulham looked to extend their lead, Dilbey-Dias and Chris Donnell both having opportunities.
Turns went close for Orient with five minutes left, but Borto dealt with his looping header quite comfortably before another header from Pigott went wide, as the home team pushed for a late equaliser.
As the match entered the six minutes of time added on, an excellent Jordan Graham cross from the right found Pigott, who came agonisingly close to levelling the scores but instead hit the post.
But in the 95th minute, up popped El Mizouni who scored to make it 2-2 with a last gasp equaliser, ensuring the tie would be decided on penalties.
Dilbey-Dias, O’Neill, Kristian Sekularac and Adrian Pajaziti all netted for Fulham, as did.Galbraith, Pigott, Graham and George Moncur for Orient.
But Imani Lanquedoc’s spot kick for the away team struck the post, and it was left to El Mizouni to seal the match for the hosts.
The on-loan Ipswich Town midfielder made no mistake, firing his penalty past Borto to claim victory for the O’s.
Orient have their final group match in this competition on Tuesday 7 November, when Portsmouth will send a side to E10.
In the meantime they return to EFL League One action this Saturday, when Shrewsbury Town visit Brisbane Road (k/o 3pm).
LEYTON ORIENT (Head Coach: Richie Wellens): Sam Howes, Jayden Sweeney (Jordan Graham 66), Ed Turns, Dan Happe (c), Jordan Brown, (George Moncur 66), Theo Archibald (Charlie Pegrum 55), Aaron Drinan (Joe Pigott 46), Ethan Galbraith, Max Sanders, Zach Obeiro (Idris El Mizouni 60), Rob Hunt.
FULHAM U-21S (Manager: Hayden Mullins): Alex Borto, Harvey Araujo,, Devon Tanton, Luc De Fourgerolles, Matthew Dilbey-Dias (c), Oliver O’Neill, Chris Donnell, Kristian Sekularac, Jonathon Esenga (Bradley De Jesus 86), Terrell Works (Imani Lanquedoc 78), Aaron Loupalo-Bi (Adrian Pajaziti 62).
Referee: Darren Drysdale