Leyton Orient just about escaped Brisbane Road yesterday with a point against AFC Wimbeldon. The Dons were up against it after that man again Jay Simpson latched on to a John Marquis’s through ball and fired home his 15th of the season. Orient struggled to get forward with the Dons playing well restricted Orient to little in attack.
Wimbledon were camped inside the Orient half and the pattern of the game continued in the second half especially after John Marquis picked up his second yellow card. The O’s moved to a 3-5-1 formation to try and absorb the waves of Dons pressure. Alex Cisak pulled a wonderful save as Orient were defending for their lives but could not prevent Adebayo Akinfenwa from grabbing a deserved point for the Dons after heading in at the back post.
Orient who had picked up 4 points from the last 2 matches lined up unchanged with Cole Kpekawa and Jean-Yves M’voto continuing at center half. Mathieu Baudry returned on the bench after missing Tuesday’s trip to Plymouth.
Wimbledon who were coming off a disappointing 1-0 home defeat to Dagenham on Tuesday made only 1 change with Sean Rigg coming in for Callum Kennedy who dropped down to the bench.
In surprising fashion for a London derby, it was a quiet start with neither side able to gain a foothold on the contest. Jack Payne, who has made the central midfield his own since his arrival in September, was trying to dictate play for the O’s. It was Payne who found who found Clohessy on the right hand side, the full back linked up with Bradley Pricthard who had made his way inside the box. He crossed for Jay Simpson but Simpson could only head over from inside the six yard box.
However much like Tuesday in Plymouth, it was the former Arsenal man who struck early once more. Following a Wimbledon attack, John Marquis broke through the Dons midfield, the space opened up and he played in Simpson who had made a run in the inside right channel. Simpson took one touch then fired home from just inside the box to put Orient ahead. It was Simpson’s 15th goal of the season and his 4th goal in his last 3 games.
The goal didn’t seem to give Orient the impetus to push on a grab a second, M’Voto was booked early on for a pull back on Lyle Taylor while John Marquis was cautioned for a late challenge. The O’s game plan appeared to be try and play long to Ollie Palmer down the right hand flank however Orient failed to create any openings.
Orient defended resolutely at Plymouth on Tuesday and were being forced to do the same. With Orient beginning to sit back and inviting pressure, Wimbledon pushed forward. Neither side were creating any openings with the game getting scrappy but worryingly for Orient was they were losing the midfield battle. Towards the end of the first half, Orient were absorbing pressure through long throws and set pieces.
The Dons were finding space especially down the right hand side where Frazer Shaw was dealing with a 2 vs 1 situation but the away side were failing to create clear cut chances. Half time only gave Orient a break from the Dons attack’s with George Francomb firing a dipping free kick just over the bar.
The pattern of the game continued with Orient camped inside their own half as Wimbledon pressed forward. Hendon’s men were second to the ball in the midfield but Adebayo Akinfenwa could only head over at the back post. Hendon made a change which baffled many fans bringing on Mathieu Baudry for Ollie Palmer as the home side moved to a 3-5-2 formation. 1-0 up at home and bringing on a defender for a striker, a move you may make later on in the game but with 35 minutes remaining? A change was needed as Orient were getting over run in midfield.
However the subustition seemed to back fire even more after John Marquis was sent off after 58 minutes for picking up a second yellow card for a late challenge. A correct decision on review, but with the referee in the mood he was, did Hendon not see the danger of leaving on Marquis who is always susceptible to a late challenge in a game. Orient were left with Jay Simpson as their only attacking outlet but with Orient looking to absorb pressure, there was no out ball in attack.
Wave after wave of Wimbledon attack, it was more of a attack against defense training session. The question remained how long would it take for Wimbledon to breach the O’s back line. Jake Reeves could only fire over after creating space inside the box however Orient were defending well. With only 10 men, Wimbledon pushed both Barry Fuller and Jon Meades forward to very high wing backs. It almost paid dividends when Fuller’s cross dropped agonizingly wide at the back post but no-one was able to get on the end of the cross.
Reeves fired a shot over from distance as visiting manager Neal Ardley brought on Ade Azeez for Sean Rigg as they moved to 4-3-3 to try and force the equalizer. Wimbledon were at siege in the Orient half and only a wonderful clearance from Cole Kpekawa and a glorious save from Alex Cisak kept the lead in tact. However just a minute afterwards, Azeez made a run across the backline to the right flank. He crossed to the back post where Akinfenwa was left unmarked to head home for the equalizer.
The Dons continued to search for a second goal with Fuller providing cross after cross from the right hand side but Azeez and substitute Tom Elliot could only head straight at Cisak as Wimbledon had to settle for a point.
Orient got away with one, Wimbledon were the only side who look liked winning the game after Simpson had put Orient ahead. The question of is Ian Hendon tactically naive has come to the surface once more. I don’t know how many team would have moved that early to a 3-5-2 formation. He made the wrong sub, Marquis should have been taken off, leaving Palmer and Simpson in attack. Albeit, the sending off did not help his tactics one bit, but the pattern of the game did not change after the 30 minute mark with Wimbledon in the ascedancy.
People will say about the tactics but due to the ongoing persistence of not bringing any body else in on loan. The squad has only one way of playing which is with possession of the ball, Orient lack pace on the break so leaves no option to play on the counter which yesterday would have released pressure at the back. The back-line defended well but it was inevitable that a goal was going to be conceded. 1 clean sheet in 17 games in all competitions says it all, no clean sheet in last 10 at home.
In Jay Simpson, Orient have a ready made goal scorer at this level but surely Simpson would have had a baffling look at the bench after 55 minutes. Bringing on a central defender for a striker when leading 1-0 at home, it is clear that he is enjoying his football but with January round the corner will he still be there.
Unbeaten in the last 3 games and 5 points from last 9 available highlights that the tide may be turning. However, 3 wins in the last 15 league matches is not a good return for a side that wants to be challenging. With Orient getting away with the game today, it seems to even itself out with Orient unlucky not to get the three points on Tuesday.
The league takes a back seat next weekend as Orient welcome Scunthorpe with Darius Henderson to Brisbane Road. A win and progression to the third round would see optimism return around if Orient are to get a good tie. Don’t get ahead of ourselves is the clear message, but with a tough Christmas period ahead, Orient need a ray of light to look ahead towards over that period.
It is never pretty or uneventful watching the O’s but the wonderful thing with football is everybody sees a game differently. Onwards and upwards to next week, what better way to spend your Saturday afternoon…..