Dean Cox struck a 97 minute injury time free kick to snatch a deserved point for Leyton Orient at Northampton yesterday. The East London side found home keeper Adam Smith in fine form in the second half with the former Leicester keeper saving well from Jay Simpson, Connor Essam and Ollie Palmer.
Northampton struggled to create going forward and with the game looking set for a stalemate it burst into life in added time. Former Orient loanee Nicky Adams whipped in a corner for the unmarked Dominic Calvert-Lewin to nod home via the bar. The home side thought they had snatched victory but O’s playmaker Dean Cox thought otherwise. After a free-kick was awarded 25 yards out, Cox curled an exquisite effort into the top corner to send 800 Orient fan wild. (Well apart from the ones that left early….)
The Cobblers came into the clash after back to back wins over Oxford and Morecambe making only 1 change for the visit of Orient. Zander Diamond replaced Ryan Cresswell who missed out due to injury.
The O’s who were without a win in September made 2 changes from the side that drew 1-1 with Wycombe last weekend. Ollie Palmer replaced Paul McCallum in attack while Lloyd James missed out in midfielder with the O’s welcoming back Bradley Pritchard who sat out last weekend.
Northampton started on the front foot, immediately forcing a corner but failed to convert. The game began to settle down with neither side allowed much space to pass the ball around.
The Cobblers were pressing high when Orient were in possession to force them to hit long.
Sean Clohessy who has been a threat down the right all season for the visitors was given the freedom of Sixfields down the right at times. It was the former Colchester man who crossed for Ollie Palmer but the forward could only head over. The game was really tight with possession changing hands quickly much to the compact, tight nature of the game with Northampton squeezing the game high.
The away side were playing a more traditional 4-4-2 but Cox was given a free role to roam across the pitch to try and make an impact on proceedings. Cox popped up on the left to latch onto a Jack Payne pass but the chance was sniffed out. Orient were the side searching for the opener with Simpson, Pritchard and Cox all seeing efforts blocked.
Despite their attacking intentions, Orient had to be weary of Northampton’s attacking threat which saw the hit 4 goals away at Morecambe last weekend. The home side best chance to open the scoring was coming from crossing into the box but Calvert-Lewin could only glance wide a Nicky Adams center.
Cox continued to roam around the pitch with Orient seeming to switch between a flat midfield 4 and the midfield diamond. Cox nearly created the opener 5 minutes before the break but Jay Simpson could only volley over from Cox’s cross. The Cobblers could have gone into half time ahead but Zander Diamond could only head wide an Adams free kick wide of the mark when the center half really should have done better.
The Cobblers were forced into a half time change with David Buchanan forced off with an injury to be replaced by John Joe O’Toole. Joel Byrom moved to left back with O’Toole partnering Watson in central midfield.
Northampton started the second half brightly but failed to force visiting keeper Alex Cisak into a save. Then began the story of the second half with Orient in the ascendancy trying to open the scoring. Jay Simpson took too many touches 5 minutes after the break allowing Shaun Brisley to snuff out the danger.
Orient were finding Adam Smith in fine form with the former Leicester man pulling off two good saves in the space of a minute. First after a free kick on the right, the ball found it’s way to Jack Payne, the former Peterborough man whipped in a ball to the back post. Ollie Palmer connected but his goal bound header was touched over by Smith. As the visitors put the pressure on, Smith got down well to his left to prevent Connor Essam’s header going in.
The home side looked to prevent the siege on their goal with manager Chris Wilder making a double change. Alfie Potter and Marc Richards came on for Lawson D’Ath and Sam Hoskins. With the changes, the game opened up with more space being provided in attacking areas.
Blair Turgott replaced Sammy Moore as Orient pushed for the opening goal and it was Turgott who nearly provided an instant impact. The former West Ham man broke down the right, the loose ball fell to captain Mathieu Baudry but his effort was smothered by Smith before the keeper saving well from Bradley Pritchard’s follow up effort.
Simpson who had struck 6 goals in the first 8 league games, knew it was going to be a frustrated afternoon when Smith pulled off two great saves in a minute to keep the home sides goal in tact. Despite Orient’s attacking intentions, Alex Cisak had to be on guard as Alfie Potter was found in the left channel but Cisak’s left hand prevented the home side from taking the lead.
Hendon threw on Paul McCallum in place of Ollie Palmer as Hendon was wondering how his side were not in front. McCallum headed straight at Smith in his first and last attempt after an serious looking injury cut his afternoon short. With the game seemingly ending for a draw with the home announcer giving home keeper Adam Smith MOTM, the home side struck for what looked liked an unlikely winner.
Nicky Adams who was on loan at Orient in 2010, whipped in a corner to Dominic Calvert-Lewin who was left unmarked to head home via the bar. The home crowd were in elation after seeing their side under pressure for most of the second half. With some of the away fans leaving after the goal going against the statement of “You Never Leave Early”. A statement which would have seen the leaving Orient fans kicking themselves in the 97th minute.
After the referee awarded Orient a free-kick 25 yards out, Dean Cox stepped up and curled in a delicious effort to send the remaining Orient fans into raptures behind the goal. Orient will still be ruing missed chances in the game, with most fans and Hendon saying they found a keeper in inspired form. But apart from the Cox effort, Smith’s saves were routine with the keeper not forced into a great save. I know he has to be there to make the saves but with chances created Orient should have netted more than one goal.
Orient looked the best going forward in their recent games but looked a lot better when the tempo was faster. The O’s played more of a flatter midfield 4 and created more than in recent weeks. Jack Payne was impressive once more in the middle of midfield breaking up play and spreading play to the left and right. Hendon looks set to play Payne in central midfielder with Moore and Pritchard. James looks set to miss out but as stated by the three of us yesterday it has been more of a case of James playing his way out”
A a pessimistic Orient fan I wrote in my notes after 78 minutes “Same old Orient, killed by the sucker punch”. When the corner was awarded most Orient fans in the ground feared the worst but in the end we picked up what could be a vital point come the end of the season. Orient deserved more than a point but the age old saying “you have to take your chances to win games” something which Orient need to improve on in the coming weeks.
A worry for Hendon will be the injury to Paul McCallum with the front man stretchered off in the second half. The injury will certainly see Hendon move in the loan market for a striker, if McCallum is out the O’s then only have 2 senior strikers in the squad. The O’s will have to regroup quickly ahead of Tuesday’s clash at home to Carlisle but the signs still remain good under Hendon.
I know that the question remains “why leave early from a came” I know that the calf strain sustained running down the stair was worth it to see Cox’s effort and reaction after the goal. The desire and passion is well an truly there at Orient a continued delight after last season.