Leyton Orient suffered their second consecutive defeat of 2017 as Barnet took all three points at Brisbane Road.
After a goalless first-half, Barnet broke the deadlock just after the hour through Ricardo Santos and he then doubled his and Barnet’s tally just three minutes later. Paul McCallum pulled a goal back for the O’s with ten minutes to go, however, Curtis Weston made it 1-3 in stoppage time.
Andy Edwards made two changes his side following the thrashing at Exeter. Myles Judd and Ollie Palmer dropped to the bench, making way for Josh Koroma and Teddy Mezague. The O’s boss also changed formation from 4-4-2 to a 4-2-3-1. Mezague occupied one of the holding midfield roles alongside Nigel Atangana and Michael Collins occupied the attacking midfield role. Josh Koroma started on the left flank, with Gavin Massey on the right wing.
The hosts conceded a good chance early on as they left John Akinde and Mauro Vilhete unmarked in the box but fortunately for Orient Akinde poked the ball wide following Curtis Weston’s cross.
The O’s responded at the other end as Josh Koroma got a shot off from outside the box. Jamie Stephens spilled the effort but collected the ball before Nigel Atangana could take full advantage of his error. Stephens soon had to be replaced by Josh Vickers due to a knock.
Orient’s changed formation was proving to be somewhat effective in the early stages as they began to look comfortable knocking the ball around. Michael Collins was dictating the play from the attacking midfield position and Nigel Atangana was covering lots of ground in a box-to-box role. Josh Koroma was also looking promising in his first start of the season.
However, the O’s were still looking unorganized defensively and Barnet really should have punished the home side midway through the first-half. Mauro Vilhete delivered a dangerous cross from the left but Akinde’s header travelled across the Orient goalmouth.
By this point, the visitors were in the ascendancy and Orient were lucky to see out the half with a clean sheet intact. First Alex Cisak was called upon to keep out Simeon Akinola’s half-volley, then the Australian was needed again to save from a one-on-one from Akinde who had outmuscled Tom Parkes.
Akinde continued to trouble the Orient defence and he broke through again shortly before the break. Yvan Erichot tangled with the Bees striker, perhaps in a desperate, last-ditch attempt to bring him down, but Akinde managed to stay on his feet and get a shot away. Once again, Akinde wasted a great opportunity to break the deadlock.
Both sides created opportunities in the early stages of the second-half. Gavin Massey tried his luck from long range and his curling effort dipped over the crossbar. At the other end, Vilhete couldn’t quite manage to get his looping header on target.
Barnet eventually got the opening goal just after the hour. Cisak came out to claim the ball in the box but it slipped from his grasp and Ricard Santos was on hand to tap in.
The hosts’ confidence drained from them after conceding the opener and they were soon dealt another blow when Santos made it two three minutes later. Nana Kyei ghosted past Collins and delivered a low cross towards Santos, who slotted the ball into the Orient net unchallenged.
Following that goal Andy Edwards reverted to a 4-4-2 bringing Ollie Palmer on to partner Paul McCallum up front. Ulrich N’Nomo then replaced Josh Koroma soon after.
Orient were now chasing the game, but their long balls into the Barnet penalty area often proved fruitless.Gavin Massey flashed a shot wide before Ollie Palmer had an effort deflected behind for a corner. That proved to be significant, as Paul McCallum headed the ball home from the corner that followed, pulling a goal back for the O’s with ten minutes to go.
The goal had given the home fans some hope and they got behind the team in the hope of a late equaliser. However, any hopes of a repeat of the Cambridge game were killed off in stoppage time as the Bees added a third goal.
Curtis Weston raced through what was left of the O’s defence and squared the ball to Jamal Campbell-Ryce. The former Orient loanee fired the ball towards goal with the outside of his boot. Alex Cisak had left his goal but the crossbar denied Campbell-Ryce, however, Weston was left with a simple finish to seal a 1-3 victory that moved Rossi Eames’ side into the play-off places. Orient, however, slipped down to 21st place and Edwards’ men are now only four points off the relegation zone.
- The main talking point before the game was the switch to a 4-2-3-1. While I can understand some fans criticising the idea of playing one up front at home to Barnet I actually think it was a logical move by Edwards. I think it was sensible to set Orient up to be difficult to beat first and foremost especially after the poor result and performance against Exeter. It should also be remembered that five in midfield and one up front doesn’t necessarily have to be defensive and for the first twenty minutes or so Orient produced, some fluid football with the different system. Atangana was doing well in a box-to-box role and Collins was seeing lots of the ball and having an influence in the attacking midfield position. However, the O’s still struggled to create much going forward.
- Unfortunately for Orient as the half went on Barnet got a grip on the game and Orient became less effective. The Bees’ attacks forced Orient deeper and left McCallum increasingly isolated, without the support of Koroma, Collins and Massey.
- I also thought the 4-2-3-1 was a good idea to get Teddy Mezague to shield the back four and help reduce Akinde’s physical threat. I thought Orient would look to get Mezague in front of Akinde and one of the central defenders behind him, making direct passes up to him more difficult, however, that never really happened. While I recognise that Mezague was used in a somewhat unfamiliar role, in my opinion, his positional discipline was lacking and all to often there was space in front of the defence for Akinola and Akinde to exploit.
- Naturally, Akinde proved to be a handful for Parkes and Erichot who were often outmuscled, however, Barnet’s attacking midfield also linked well with the Bees target man and supplied him with opportunites. Akinde could well have bagged a hattrick given the chances he had.
- By contrast, Orient’s attack was far tamer. Orient struggled to really create anything clear-cut. McCallum didn’t really trouble the Barnet defence enough and Palmer didn’t offer much either. Both players won little in the air.
- Credit to McCallum for scoring our first goal this season from a corner and his tenth of the campaign though. While I feel he could’ve given the Barnet defence more to think about very little was created for him.
- Once again Orient’s defensive errors proved costly (Cisak included). All season the O’s have struggled to defend, particularly as a unit and Barnet could’ve and probably should’ve scored more. Confidence drained out of Orient following the opener which is a real problem. I’m sure the defence is one of Edwards’ highest priorities but he has a very big job on his hands.
- Ultimately the team and certainly the squad doesn’t have a great deal of quality. I think Edwards has some good ideas but I worry that he doesn’t have the personnel to execute them. Unfortunately, the lack of activity in the transfer market so far and Edwards’ post-match comments suggest that he will have to work with what he has got.