Fleet 3-2 Leyton Orient

Leyton Orient’s ill fortune at the Kuflink Stadium continued as a strong visiting side were brushed aside by an effervescent Fleet first-half display. Dominic Poleon showed the summer hasn’t blunted his touch as he struck twice, Shaq Coulthirst adding the other as Fleet burst into a 3-0 lead.

Josh Wright and Ouss Cissé lined up against their old side while Orient named former Fleet youth player Hayden Bullas on the bench after he’d joined them earlier this summer.

Chris Haigh had a couple of comfortable saves to make in the opening 10 minutes but the Fleet eased ahead with an excellently worked goal on 12 minutes. Toby Edser advanced through the middle at pace and slid the perfect through ball into Poleon who outfoxed the advancing Sol Brynn with a low shot to his left.

As against Colchester, the visitors might have been right back in it when Ruel Sotiriou skipped past the last Fleet man and although he took it round Haigh, the Fleet keeper recovered well to gather at the striker’s feet.

Fleet were dealing solidly with the League One side’s movement and extended their lead on 26 minutes, once again with Edser the driving force. A ball wide to Darren McQueen resulted a in a clever delivery over goalkeeper Sol Brynn that might have gone in on its own, but Coulthirst’s intervention to deftly nod the ball home made sure.

It could have been 3-0 on 36 minutes as Fleet continued to distribute the ball well and a pass wide to Cissé saw him sprint past the attentions of Orient defenders but Poleon’s attempt on target was deflected behind. Not to be put off, Fleet did find the third goal seconds later, and it was Poleon again, smashing the ball in off a defender with a neat step aside from the corner delivery.

Coulthirst intercepted Omar Beckles on the edge of the box on 40 minutes and an exchange with Edser might have yielded a fourth but Orient managed to scramble that clear. The visitors found a little more wind as the half closed out but two shots on goal weren’t anything Haigh needed to worry about and the Fleet public were more than satisfied with their side’s first-half showing.

Greg Cundle in the thick of the action

The second half was, as has been the norm in friendlies this summer, a quieter affair with the O’s a little more resistant to Fleet’s first-half forays.

Beckles hit the post for Orient on 63 minutes with a curling effort that Jack Wakely cleared before Tom James utilised the space down the right flank to smash a shot from distance into Haigh’s midriff. And Haigh was out well to grab the ball in mid-air as Dan Agyei whipped in a cross from the right once more as the Fleet continued to keep the League One side at bay.

A great run and shot by the bubbly McQueen on 73 minutes almost carved out the fourth but Brynn saved that and the ball was cleared before Wright could pounce.

Haigh’s determination to keep a clean sheet was evident two minutes later when Ethan Galbraith managed to get a somewhat fortunate shot away under pressure from the home defence. It took a deflection and Haigh had to react at full stretch to stop it creeping in.

Omari Sterling-James’ purposeful run on 83 minutes almost unlocked a chance for Billy Clifford but his pass was just too long for the Fleet sub and Orient got away on the break for Ruel Sotiriou to home in on Haigh and strike the ball beyond him.

There were three minutes left when Wright walloped a fierce dipping volley just over the bar that deserved a goal but the 500+ paying punters tonight had had their money’s worth by then.

The visitors put some respectabilty on the score in the final minute when Sotiriou robbed Haigh, fought off Ben Chapman and squared for Tanga to stroke into an empty net.

EUFC squad from: Cousins, Haigh, Martin, Wright, Wakely, Sterling-James, Cissé, Tanner, McQueen, Poleon, Cundle, Domi, Edser, Clifford, Odokonyero, Chapman, Coulthirst, Hollis
LOFC: Brynn, James, Beckles, Happe, Sweeney, Galbraith, El Mizouni, Agyei, Sotiriou, Trialist, Drinan. Subs: Phillips, Bullas, Makai, Tanga, Koroma, Kwatchey.
Attendance: 539


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