Dane Scarlett was on target as we drew 1-1 with Leyton Orient in the JE3 Foundation Trophy on Saturday afternoon.
In a useful workout for the squad – our first outing of pre-season and first match under new Head Coach Nuno Espirito Santo – the young striker’s fine finish gave us the lead in scorching heat at The Breyer Group Stadium, before substitute Ruel Sotiriou levelled for the O’s with 18 minutes remaining.
Nuno named a mix of first team and Under-23 players in the squad, with many of our senior campaigners still away after this summer’s international action. Academy teenagers Maksim Paskotsi – a full international with Estonia – and Kallum Cesay started in the full-back positions, their first senior appearances in our colours, while Nile John impressed in central midfield as another youngster in an otherwise more experienced initial XI.
Goalkeeper Alfie Whiteman was introduced for Joe Hart at half-time and made a terrific save to keep out Dan Kemp’s free-kick before the entire outfield team was changed on 64 minutes, Sotiriou subsequently curling home Orient’s equaliser.
It was John who had our first real attempt at goal, bursting into the right channel before cutting back onto his left foot and testing our former Academy goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux with a low shot from the angle. Aaron Drinan headed over for Orient while John was denied by Vigouroux again from distance before we took a 38th-minute lead, Lucas Moura’s lovely pass sending Scarlett through and he converted with a crisp strike from the left angle, across goal and inside the far post.
Substitute goalkeeper Whiteman saved brilliantly from Kemp’s set-piece on the hour mark while Eric Dier was first to a lot of aerial deliveries into our box, but after we made wholesale changes on 64 minutes, the hosts levelled when Sotiriou, who had only been on the pitch for four minutes, ran at the defence and curled a left-footed shot inside the far post from 20 yards after space opened up for him.
The result means we share the JE3 Foundation Trophy, which was introduced last year in memory of our legendary former defender and ex-Orient boss Justin Edinburgh.