Canvey Island produced an excellent performance to defeat a Leyton Orient XI 3-2 at Park Lane on Monday night.
The Orient starting XI included eight players listed in their first team squad including first choice goalkeeper Dean Brill.
Canvey nearly got off to the worst possible start inside the opening minute when they were awarded a free kick inside their own half. Lamar Johnson scuffed the ball straight to striker Matt Harrold who shot from distance at an unguarded goal, although Johnson did well to get back and make a save just inside the box.
Having survived an early scare, the Gulls then took the lead on three minutes. An overhit corner was collected by George Purcell, with the captain in the night swinging over a superb cross from the right to the back post. The cross was crying to be headed home which Dan Humphreys duly did for his second goal of pre-season.
The lead only lasted two minutes as a ball down the middle of the pitch dissected the Canvey defence and found James Alabi. The forward evaded the sliding tackle of Sammy Knott, keeping his feet and powering home from just inside the area.
Canvey nearly regained the lead on eight minutes when Josh Hutchinson drilled a low ball across the face of goal from the left. Tobi Joseph was inches away from applying the finish, with Dan Humphreys denied by some astute defending from Jayden Sweeney.
The O’s created two similar chances from corners in the 10th and 15th minute, on both occasions the ball delivered to the back post. First Matt Harrold steered his header wide of the target after a well-timed run, and then Shadrach Ogie rose high and headed the ball firmly into the ground which bounced over the crossbar.
Matt Harrold was nearly gifted a goal for the second time of the evening on 19 minutes when Lamar Johnson took too long to make a clearance. Harrold charged the ball down, but fortunately for the keeper the ball ricocheted wide of the target.
Orient’s keeper had a similar moment of uncertainty when he came out of his area without winning possession on 25 minutes. George Purcell collected the ball and chipped a shot goalwards from 25 yards which would have gone in if not for a superb goal line header by Wynford Marfo.
Canvey did restore their lead on 34 minutes after a ball into the box from the right had seen Dan Humphreys and George Purcell both have shots blocked. However, it was third time lucky as the ball fell to the feet of Albert Levett who found the back of the net from just inside the area.
As they did earlier in the half, the visitors responded well to going a goal behind and came close to equalising immediately. A through ball found James Alabi to the left of goal who managed to flick a shot past Lamar Johnson, but Alex Stephenson did well to continue his retreating run and prevent the ball from crossing the line.
The visitors levelled on 57 minutes when a cross from the right found Matt Harrold unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box, and the former-Southend forward finished with a glancing header across goal.
Harrold nearly had a second ten minutes later when James Alabi’s ball across the face of goal from the right picked out his strike partner. Harrold shot first time from close range, but Lamar Johnson did very well to save with his legs at point blank range.
Canvey won the match with four minutes remaining following some excellent hold up play by George Purcell. After allowing his teammates to join in the attack, Purcell passed to Ryan Melaugh who in turn played a ball through the Orient defence for Kane Gilbert to run onto.
Gilbert took a touch before smashing the ball into the top corner with his left foot to seal an impressive victory for the Gulls.
LISTEN: Mark Bentley Post-Match Interview