Ross Embleton backs Leyton Orient goalkeeper Sam Sargeant to improve with run of games
PUBLISHED: 14:00 23 November 2017
Simon O'Connor Photography
The youngster had an eventful evening on Tuesday vs Chester, but still made his mark and we won’t see his true ability until he gets a run of games
Leyton Orient interim head coach Ross Embleton has backed goalkeeper Sam Sargeant to improve each time he plays this season.
The youngster had failed to make a competitive appearance this term before Saturday, but earned a chance at home to Dover Athletic after Charlie Grainger injured his hip.
Sargeant impressed against the then-National League leaders, despite a couple of nervy moments, as the O’s claimed a 1-1 draw.
With Grainger still on the sidelines, the 20-year-old kept his place on Tuesday for the visit of Chester, but endured a difficult encounter.
After Macauley Bonne’s opener, Orient’s number 12 was arguably at fault for the Blues equaliser when he misjudged a cross and although James Akintunde’s effort didn’t look completely over the line, it was given with quarter of an hour gone.
Questions were then asked of Sargeant in the 40th minute when he couldn’t stop Ross Hannah’s free kick from 25-yards.
And three minutes later, the academy graduate raced out of his goal but couldn’t head away, so Chester’s Nyal Bell ran into the area and despite Jamie Sendles-White not appearing to touch him, a penalty was given and a red to the O’s defender.
But, after a poor opening 43 minutes, Sargeant atoned for his error with a fine penalty save to deny Hannah and it proved crucial with Jobi McAnuff equalising for Orient in the second half to help them pick up a point following a 2-2 draw.
Embleton said: “We spoke earlier in the season about Charlie getting a few knocks and naturally you look and think ‘does he need to come out and does Sargeant need to go in’ and they are both young goalkeepers.
“We knew when the time came for Sargeant to step in, it was going to be difficult because you are starting the process Charlie has been through already all over again.
“I know Sargeant has played games before, but not this season, so we knew we were throwing him in the deep end and his decision making was going to be a bit rusty because he hasn’t played, but I’m sure he’ll improve with games.
“We’ve got to look at his starting position as we do with the centre halves, so it’s a collective thing with the back line, but that will improve as ‘Sarge’ plays more games.
“And the penalty save was fantastic and in the end, it gives us an opportunity to get a result because if it goes 3-1, we’re looking at a real different second half, but he gave us the chance to get back in it and his save is just as important as Jobi’s finish.”
Sargeant would have no doubt been disappointed with his performance on Tuesday, but in some aspect it was another positive tick against his name.
He was going to be rusty whenever his chance came around and that has showed, yet he demonstrated character against Chester.
It would have been very easy for the youngster to lose his head after his involvement in the incident which led to the penalty.
But he kept his focus and produced a save, which as Embleton alluded too, helped O’s earn a draw.
What’s also worth mentioning are the concentration levels he showed in the second period at Brisbane Road.
Orient dominated most of the possession and Chester didn’t have their first chance of the second half until the 85th minute when Kingsley James tried his luck from range.
It proved to be a routine save, but after a poor first 45, it would have been easy for him to lose focus and slip up again, but he didn’t.
The same could be said a minute from time when Jordan Gough had an effort from 18-yards, which O’s young custodian also saved with ease.
While Tuesday was an extremely difficult evening for Sargeant, it will act as another learning curve for the one-time Millwall trainee.
The big question now is whether you bring Grainger back in at Torquay United or stick with the man who has played the last two.
Both have obvious talent, but we will only see Sargeant’s true ability when he’s given a run of games and for me, he’s shown enough this week to warrant that chance.
If it doesn’t work out and by the end of December it is clear, at 20, he just isn’t ready to be a number one right now, then O’s can revert to Grainger, try Dean Brill or bring someone in during January, but Sargeant deserves the opportunity to show he can be a regular starter.