Ryan Hall’s deflected strike a minute from time sealed Luton’s place in Round 2 of the JPT. The Hatters, who have started their league season poorly started brightly and were knocking on the door before Danny Green thundered past Charlie Grainger. Luton pushed for a second but a half time change from Orient saw them grow into the game and equalise with a Lloyd James penalty. Both teams searched for a winner but despite a bizzare sending off for Luton’s Jack Marriott, the Hatters struck late on as Ryan Hall’s strike struck the back of Stephen O’Donnell and flew into the top corner.
Luton who were trying to avenge their late defeat at the weekend made 7 changes with only Stephen O’Donnell, Scott Cuthbert, Jonathon Smith and Scott Griffiths keeping their places. The O’s had named the same starting 11 in all 5 of their league matches but made 5 changes to their side: Joe Maguire and Charlie Grainger made their debuts whilst Scott Kashket, Ollie Palmer and Blair Turgott were given the opportunity to impress.
In a timid start, neither side could keep hold of possession but Orient were the first to test Mark Tyler with Lloyd James’s shot comfortably held by the Luton stopper before Ollie Palmer cross was to close to him. The O’s were had two debutants in their back 5 and were nervous at times with Luton growing in the ascendancy. Former Orient defender Scott Cuthbert could have opened the scoring but shot wide from a corner.
Luton boss John Still set his side out with a game plan to squeeze the space between defence and attack to prevent Orient picking the ball up in space. The tactic prevented Orient from getting on the ball with Luton dominating possession. Stephen O’Donnell was a constant outlet ball for the home side down the right and was linking up well with Danny Green. With Sammy Moore almost playing in an inside left position Fraser Shaw was struggling to contain Green and O’Donnell in attacking areas.
Luton were pushing for the opener but Green’s shot was deflected for a corner whilst Scott Griffiths headed over from the corner. The Hatters did not have to wait long for the opener, Luke Gutteridge who was playing behind Jack Marriott picked the ball up and turned Joe Maguire brilliantly. His ball to the right found Green in space and the former MK Dons winger fired into the corner to give Luton the lead.
Despite falling behind, Orient still struggled to move forward in possession with Luton keeping their shape very well. The home side were full of confidence and were pushing for a second but Fraser Shaw cleared off the line from Danny Green’s effort. Although Orient had failed to create much going forward they could have equalised before the break, Blair Turgott popped up in space and drove towards the Luton defence. His slid through ball found Ollie Palmer but the O’s striker could only strike weakly at Tyler.
Orient had struggled to create openings in attack with Scott Kashket having a quiet game, the void left by Moore in the left midfield possession had provided problems all half for Fraser Shaw who was continually having to deal with O’Donnell and Green in attacking areas. Hendon needed space for his players to get on the ball especially Kashket who caused problems at MK Dons with his ability to take on defenders.
Captain for the night Sean Clohessy was replaced at half time for Fredd Moncur with Hendon revealing to leytonorient.com “that he wasn’t feeling well at all”. The change of personal had also seen a change of formation to the 4-4-2 diamond that Orient fans had seen for the majority of the season.
Despite the change of formation Orient continued to struggle at the start of the second half with Pelly Ruddock Mpanzu seeing effort fly wide while Luke Gutteridge tested Charlie Grainger.
Moncur added energy to the away sides midfield and the O’s created an opening through Palmer 10 minutes into the second half. Ollie Palmer picked the ball up just inside Luton’s half, he drove at the defence and his ball fell to Turgott but his shot failed to test Tyler in the Luton goal.
Orient were handed a lifeline when Scott Kashket received Bradley Pricthard’s pass on the half turn. The young striker drove into the Luton box and was taken down by Scott Griffiths. Referee Nicholas Kinseley had no hesitation and pointed to the spot. James stepped up and slotted home for third goal of the season and second in as many games.
With Orient’s equaliser the game opened up for both sides, Luton had a succession of attempts at the visitors goal but somehow clearances from Essam, Grainger and Maguire kept them out. Kashket who created the penalty was beginning to have more of an impact with his ability to link up down the right with Moncur and saw a shot well saved after a run from Palmer.
The young striker could have put Orient ahead on 68 minutes, Turgott and Kashket forced a mistake from Griffiths in the left back position. The ball fell to Kashket who dinked the ball over the out-rushing Tyler but Luton captain Stephen McNulty cleared off the line.
Then one of the most bizzare series of events started when Gutteridge crossed for Jack Marriott but the Luton striker headed over from 6 yards. The Orient faithful behind the goal began chanting at the forward who at the time took it in good humour. However as Grainger look to take the goal kick, the linesman called Kinseley over to him. Referee Kinseley wasted no time in approaching Marriott to produce a red card to the striker much to the amusement of the away fans. It appeared that Marriott had gestured towards the away fans and was sent for an early bath.
Hendon chucked on Sandro Semedo and Myles Judd who both made their debuts in search of the winner. The O’s boss must thought they had grabbed it when a corner fell to Essam at the back post but the center half struck high over the bar.
With Luton seemingly to be settling for penalties, a run forward from substitute Ryan Hall who was taken out by Fraser Shaw. Hall saw his initial free kick crash into the wall but his follow up effort saw a huge slice of luck when it hit the back of Stephen O’Donnell and flew into the to corner to send Orient out of the JPT.
Hendon spoke to leytonorient.com and was “encouraged by the performance but was disappointed by the results, 5 players made their debuts and we used the squad to the maximum”. Orient had signed Peterborough midfielder Jack Payne on loan till the end of the season but was unable to play in the squad.
Another competition and another loss in round 1, Hendon did not appear downbeat after exiting at the first round stage “we had to make changes, we played against an experienced side but the importance is on Saturday”. The Orient boss would have been pleased with promising keeper Charlie Grainger getting some minutes as with Alex Ciask away on International duty and Gary Woods moving to Ross County on loan, the younger keeper will have to step up in the coming weeks.
The O’s face Exeter City away on Saturday but Hendon insisted that his side “will move on from this quickly and onto Exeter on Saturday”. Hendon would have been impressed with on loan defender Joe Maguire’s performance as seem to improve as the night went on and looked accomplished on the ball. Maguire could be in contention for a start at Exeter with both Mathieu Baudry and Alan Dunne missing last night.
Scott Kashket continues to impress with his running and ability to beat defenders in attack. It is clear to see that Kashket has developed in the last year significantly and will continue with more experience within league games. Clohessy revealed on Saturday to leytonorient.com “that they all have trust in everyone and everyone knows their job”, that was evident last night with Hendon giving debuts to 5 players.
With the addition of Josh Payne and with Jobi McAnuff still at the club after the transfer the squad has got more depth but I think will add more in the loan market in the coming weeks. The average of the team that finished last night was 20.8 years with 8 players aged 21 or younger compared to Luton average age of 27.9. The experience would have done the youngsters well and highlighted that the quality that they possess.