Leyton Orient bounced back from last weekend’s disappointing defeat by beating struggling York City, however the 3-2 victory was not as comfortable as it could have been.
The O’s took the lead mid-way through the first-half as Mathieu Baudry headed home Sammy Moore’s corner. Jay Simpson then put Orient 2-0 up on the brink of half-time, but York City immediately pulled a goal back in the last minute of stoppage time. Simpson grabbed his thirteenth goal of the season in the second half to restore Orient’s two-goal advantage. The Minstermen reduced the deficit again with four minutes to go but Ian Hendon’s men managed to hold out for all three points.
Ian Hendon made three changes to the side that lost at Victoria Park. Alex Cisak started in goal, replacing Charlie Grainger and Sammy Moore returned to the side in place of Lloyd James. The club announced the arrival of defender Jean-Yves M’voto shortly before kick-off and the French defender came straight into the starting line-up alongside his countryman Mathieu Baudry, as Alan Dunne dropped to the bench.
There was also a surprise inclusion among the substitutes as Jobi McAnuff was in the matchday squad for the first time this season. New loan Cole Kpekawa signing was also on the bench.
After bonding during their week-long stay in a local hotel, Orient were fast out of the blocks against York. Jack Payne came agonisingly close to opening the scoring inside the first minute as his long range strike cracked off of the crossbar. Sammy Moore then fired a shot high over the bar from a half-chance. Jay Simpson had a very good opportunity to open the scoring shortly after, however he hesitated for too long and the chance was gone.
The hosts continued to push for the opener, with Jay Simpson again providing the focal point. John Marquis pulled the ball back for the former Arsenal striker and he directed his shot past York stopper Scott Flinders but Eddie Nolan made the vital clearance in the visitors’ goalmouth.
Orient eventually made the breakthrough after twenty minutes of pressure. Mathieu Baudry showed the most desire to get on the end of Sammy Moore’s corner and the O’s captain stretched to head the ball high into the York net. In his celebration the Frenchman paid tribute to the victims of the tragic events in his homeland.
Unfortunately, Orient did not see much more from their captain as he was forced off due to injury five minutes after scoring. He was replaced by Cole Kpekawa.
The O’s were controlling proceedings but the Minstermen started to get on the ball more often after struggling in the early stages.
Orient managed to double their lead in first-half injury time. John Marquis went on a mazy run, evading three York City players as he made his way to the byline. The Millwall loanee then slid the ball across goal where Simpson was waiting for a simple tap-in.
However, York managed an instant reply despite failing to threaten for the vast majority of the half. Frazer Shaw blocked Bryn Morris’s shot but the ball fell to Vadaine Oliver. The York striker fired a shot on the bounce from the edge of the penalty area and the ball delfected off of Cole Kpekawa, giving Alex Cisak no chance of keeping the ball out of his net. It was the lifeline that the away side needed.
The O’s made a confident start to the second half and they fashioned a half chance for Jay Simpson, but his overhead kick trickled harmlessly wide.
However, York City began to press for the an equaliser and Bryn Morris came close to putting his side back on level terms when his curling shot narrowly missed the target.
Despite the visitors’ improvement, Orient went two goals ahead again as Simpson scored his second of the afternoon. League Two’s top scorer collected the ball in the box near the byline and cut back inside before powering the ball into the far corner to make it 3-1.
Even though they had slipped further behind the Minstermen continued to search for a way back into the match and they forced Orient deeper and deeper into their own half. The away side’s pressure eventually led to an opening for Vadaine Oliver, however Alex Cisak pulled off a stunning save to keep the York striker’s header out.
In a bid to halt York’s progress Ian Hendon freshened up his midfield by introducing Blair Turgott and Jobi McAnuff, who appeared in competitive action for Orient for the first time since the final day of last season.
York were still troubling the O’s and they managed to pull a goal back with little more than five minutes remaining. Cisak spilled a shot and M’voto’s unconvincing clearance only made it as far as the byline, where James Berrett was on hand to put the ball back into the Orient goalmouth. Oliver rose above Payne to head the ball into the far top corner, completing his brace as well as setting up a nervy end to the match.
Alex Cisak was called upon to make a couple more important saves late on, ensuring the O’s claimed all three points.
Cisak’s saves during the second half played a big part in Orient securing the win. He did spill a shot in the build up to York’s second, however his superb one-handed save earlier in the half makes up for that error. He had no chance with the first goal.
Clohessy was largely solid on the right side of the defence. He appears to have been instructed to focus more on the defensive side of the game as his marauding runs are less frequent than they were earlier in the season. He still produced a couple of good deliveries.
Mathieu Baudry (off after 25 minutes):
He did well to score the opening goal. The Orient captain was enjoying stepping out into the space in front of him, but he was forced off early due to injury.
The new singing had a good debut, especially considering it was his first competitive 90 minutes since last season. He should have no trouble competing physically and winning headers, he may find things more difficult when the ball is at his feet. His poor clearance gave York the opportunity to score a second and he should have done better with it.
Frazer Shaw produced another good performance and he is looking more comfortable in the side. After a tricky start he pressed effectively. He was exposed a bit more after the break.
Payne had a very good first half as he controlled the game with passes from just in front of the back four and he also tackled well. However, he had a more difficult second half in which he gave the ball away a fair bit and was generally less dominant.
Bradley Pritchard (off after 82 minutes):
Pritchard broke up lots of York City’s play in the midfield and provided energy in the centre of the pitch.
He pressed well in the midfield along with Frazer Shaw during the first half. His corner led to Baudry’s goal.
John Marquis(on after 82 minutes):
Marquis was impressive throughout. He worked incredibly hard to close down and cover the right flank and he did very well to set up Orient’s second.
Like Marquis, Palmer showed great work-rate to make things difficult for York. I would like to see him show more conviction in the box.
Simpson did his job, getting two goals on the day. His first was teed up for him but he produced the second goal out of nothing. For someone with his goalscoring record this season he was strangely hesitant with a couple of chances early on and he could well have added to his tally. One of the players who made the difference.
Cole Kpekawa (on after 25 minutes):
He coped pretty well considering his relative inexperience and his lack of familiarity with his team mates.
Jobi McAnuff (on after 82 minutes):
He didn’t really have enough time to make an impact.
Blair Turgott (on after 82 minutes):
He didn’t really have enough time to make an impact.
Tactics and Playing Style
Ian Hendon continued to play the 4-3-3 that he used against Hartlepool a week earlier.
Like last Sunday, the O’s made a good start to the match. Orient were keen to attack early on and they pressed York high up the pitch as a group. The visitors found this difficult to deal with, as they struggled to keep possession and make it past the Orient midfield.
Ollie Palmer and John Marquis worked hard to press and track back in the wide areas, Sammy Moore and Bradley Pritchard pressed York’s wide players as well as covering the centre, while Sean Clohessy and Frazer Shaw engaged York’s wingers around the halfway line. This high, energetic press helped Orient control the vast majority of the first half and prevented York from troubling the defence.
However, in contrast Orient retreated deeper and deeper into their own half as York pushed for a way back into the game. The O’s seemed increasingly nervous and desperate to cling on to their lead, but their understandable inclination to drop deeper actually encouraged York to press further forward. Jackie McNamara’s side were not one of the better teams to have faced the O’s so far this season, yet they still managed to score twice and almost grabbed a late equaliser. Despite the improvements from last week Orient do still look vulnerable defensively and this is something that Hendon will have to work on if the O’s are to challenge for promotion.
Having said that, Orient’s defensive frailties in this instance can in part be explained by the changes in the defence. Jean-Yves M’voto was making his debut and he did well, especially considering he hadn’t played competitively this season, however Baudry’s injury was a blow and led to two debutants in the heart of defence. Cole Kpekawa and M’voto were unfamiliar with each other as well as the rest of the back four and Cisak of course and this unfamiliarity created a weakness.
McAnuff’s involvement was the other point of interest in the game.Given the lack of depth in the O’s squad his reintroduction is welcome not least for his versatility. He was most often used on the wings last term, however here he was brought on as a central attacking midfielder in a 4-2-3-1. He also played in both positions for Jamaica during the summer. McAnuff could well fit in at the tip of the diamond if Hendon wishes to return to the system that he has favoured, but he could also fit in a 4-4-2 if Hendon wants to switch to that formation.
Overall there were positive aspects to Orient’s performance and the three points were much needed, however the defensive phase remains a concern. The O’s face a trip to league leaders Plymouth on Tuesday night and their defensive resolve is highly likely to face a greater test at Home Park.