Orient defender Happe ‘mature beyond his years’
PUBLISHED: 14:00 28 January 2019
Leyton Orient v Ebbsfleet United(a)
The O’s academy graduate has impressed whenever called upon this season
Jamie Turley enjoyed a very successful full debut for Leyton Orient on Saturday, but what perhaps went unnoticed was how much his fellow centre back grew into the 3-0 win over National League strugglers Maidstone United.
Dan Happe, after a slightly shaky start, was superb for the O’s and played a big part in them securing a deserved clean sheet.
It is easy to forget he only turned 20 in September, but the young centre back continues to catch the eye in E10.
Recent injuries to Josh Coulson and Marvin Ekpiteta presented the academy graduate with a deserved first-team opportunity and he has grasped it with both hands.
Happe played his part in the 1-0 win at Wrexham in the FA Trophy on January 12 and also had to contend with a change of partner during the tie.
Seven days later and he featured from the off at Ebbsfleet United and while he failed to stop Orient losing 2-0, no one would blame him for the result.
Another test for the former youth-teamer occurred on Saturday when Maidstone made the trip to east London and he largely passed it with flying colours.
There were some nerves, but understandably so given it was only his fifth start of the season and just his second at home this term.
Partner Turley helped him out of a sticky situation in the fourth minute when Stones’ forward Jake Robinson seemed in on goal, but Happe held him up and Turley came in to win the ball back.
After giving away possession a couple of times with long balls, Happe settled down and showed the calm head he has become accustom with.
He displayed superb composure whenever pressed by Maidstone players and always seemed to win his duels with Robinson after their first battle on four minutes.
A nice moment happened with 64 played when Happe headed back to Dean Brill when others may have panicked and given the ball back to the opposition. It earned a pat on the back from experienced pro Turley.
There will be tougher tests to come for Orient’s number 15, but considering his age and lack of experience, he has slotted into the O’s defence with ease since Coulson and Ekpiteta suffered injuries.
Saturday was only Happe’s eighth outing of the campaign for the leaders, yet he will earn many more appearances this season if he carries on playing with such composure.
Boss Justin Edinburgh was certainly impressed, he noted: “With Dan his temperament is remarkable.
“Whenever he has stepped in this season he has been an absolute colossus and class act.
“Again he has stepped in with a new partner, so when he has come into the team he is not playing with someone who has played regularly, it is someone who hasn’t played as well and I think he is so mature beyond his years.
“I am always assured to know we have him and I thought ‘Turls’ was excellent, so we had a lot of positives.”