Edinburgh’s men progress in the FA Trophy after battle with Spartans
PUBLISHED: 17:03 02 February 2019
Simon O'Connor Photography
FA Trophy third round: Leyton Orient 1 Blyth Spartans 0
Jamie Turley’s header in the 84th minute was enough to send Leyton Orient through to the FA Trophy quarter-finals with a 1-0 win over Blyth Spartans.
It was far from vintage from Justin Edinburgh’s team, but they got the job done in the end against stern opposition.
O’s are now only one win away from the semi-finals with a trip to Wembley Stadium a real possibility in this competition this season.
Edinburgh rotated his starting XI for this latest FA Trophy tie, like he had done in the first and second round.
Out of the squad completely was Joe Widdowson, Jobi McAnuff, Craig Clay, Charlie Lee, Josh Koroma and Macauley Bonne.
Meanwhile, Sam Ling dropped to the bench and was joined by youngsters Shadrach Ogie and Brendon Shabani while inexperienced professionals Sam Sargeant and Ruel Sotiriou were also substitutes.
Those recalled to the starting XI by Orient’s head coach were Myles Judd, Jayden Sweeney, Dale Gorman, Alex Lawless, James Brophy and strikers Matt Harrold and James Alabi.
With Koroma now set for a spell on the sidelines, it was a big opportunity for forward duo Harrold and Alabi.
Despite the long trip, Blyth’s supporters travelled in numbers and created a fantastic atmosphere in east London.
In the fourth minute they almost had a reason to celebrate when O’s captain for the afternoon, Lawless, hit a pass back to Dean Brill, which was underhit, but luckily the goalkeeper was able to clear before Spartans’ Daniel Maguire.
This encouraged the visitors to attack more and the same man saw a shot deflected over in the seventh minute.
While the away side had the better of the play in the opening exchanges, Orient did threaten in the 10th minute, but Alabi’s curling effort was easy for Petr Jameson.
O’s forced the Blyth goalkeeper into another save seven minutes later as Lawless saw a fierce drive pushed wide.
After a slight lull, the third round tie came alive again in the 24th minute when the ball rolled invitingly for Maguire-Drew, but his low effort was easily saved.
Down the other end, Spartans nearly created an opportunity with 25 played when the visitors’ captain Robert Dale won the ball off Dan Happe, but Orient’s defender slide in to force a corner, which came to nothing.
Five minutes later and the hosts were on the front foot again and Maguire-Drew cut inside smartly, though failed to beat Jameson from a tight angle.
Gorman smashed over moments later before the best chance of the half was created in the 34th minute.
Maguire-Drew floated a free kick into the area and it came perfectly for Alabi, who was unmarked, but he headed well wide from six-yards.
Orient began to move up the gears now and both Lawless and Maguire-Drew delivered dangerous crosses in the space of a few minutes, but no one from the hosts could get on the end of them.
Edinburgh’s team maintained their encouraging end to the half, yet Jameson largely remained untroubled and it stayed goalless at the break.
The National League leaders made an early change with Ogie coming on for Sweeney in the 51st minute and in the process making his debut for the club.
It had been a long awaited first professional appearance for the 17-year-old, who had to wait for international clearance before he could sign his first deal with the O’s.
After finally getting it in the week, he penned terms on Friday and capped a good few days with his debut this afternoon.
Ogie entered the pitch ahead of an Orient corner and it came all the way to the back post where Happe was unmarked, but he could only fire over from a tight angle.
Unfortunately for the O’s it was not a sign of things to come as Blyth started to grow in confidence.
A momentary lapse of concentration from Turley saw him lose possession to Maguire and the defender fouled the forward and picked up a caution in the process.
Connor Oliver took responsibility from the free kick and managed to beat the wall, but Brill saved impressively in the 61st minute.
Blyth remained on the front foot now and forced two corners in quick succession, yet Orient held firm.
Having found a second wind, the National League North side started to tire as the tie hit the 70-minute mark.
Seconds later and O’s opened up Blyth with Gorman passing out to Brophy, but as he got a shot off, an opposition defender slide in to deflect behind for a corner.
Edinburgh made another change with 16 minutes left as Sotiriou was introduced for the lacklustre Alabi.
The teenager immediately added some required urgency and movement to O’s front line, but Spartans still looked compact in their 5-3-2 formation.
Blyth were dropping deeper and deeper, yet they almost scored a sensational winner in the 79th minute when Kieran Green spotted Brill off his line, but his 50-yard shot flew inches wide.
Orient didn’t let the scare affect them and more good work by Lawless present wide-man Brophy with a chance, though his effort was deflected over.
It felt like a replay could be on the cards, but that was prevented by O’s with 84 on the clock in east London.
Sotiriou’s driving run won a free kick just outside the area and Gorman swung in a fine cross which found Turley at the back post.
It was a brilliant header into the bottom corner and it meant Orient had finally made the breakthrough.
Blyth responded with three substitutions in a matter of minutes and they almost found a leveller in the 89th minute.
A ball across the area came for Robert Dale and his low effort was heading in until O’s Brill pushed onto the post.
The danger was not over yet as the ball dropped for Adam Wrightson, but Turley threw himself in the way and blocked the danger.
Four minutes of stoppage time was added on at the end of the 90 and although there was a big coming together between both sets of players, Orient didn’t have to defend any more and the full time whistle was eventually blown.
O’s had booked their spot in the quarter-finals of the competition, but Blyth were the real heroes of the day.
The Spartans players received a standing ovation from their 289 travelling support and also the Orient faithful.
Next up for the National League leaders is a trip up to Hartlepool United on Saturday, February 9.
Leyton Orient: Brill; Judd, Turley, Happe, Sweeney (Ogie 51); Maguire-Drew (Ling 90), Gorman, Lawless, Brophy; Alabi (Sotiriou 74), Harrold.
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Shabani.
Blyth Spartans: Jameson; Nicholson, Buddle, Laing, Watson (Wrightson 85), Liddle; Oliver, Green (Fewster 84), Reid (Holmes 86); Maguire, Dale (c).
Unused substitutes: Mullen, Horner.
Attendance: 1,842 (289 Blyth Spartans supporters).