Another Game and yet more chaos in the Orient defense as the East London Club fell to a 2-1 defeat to Bristol Rovers yesterday. Rory Gaffney opened the scoring after 31 minutes following what could only be described as Sunday League defending. Orient struggled to create in attack but equalised through that man again Jay Simpson, who is surely the hottest prospect in the football league currently.
Both sides pushed for a second and Gaffney obliged with a brilliant left foot volley which went in off the post to restore Rovers lead. Orient tried to push forward but continued to look susceptible in defense. Gaffney nearly completed his hat trick but his header was saved by Alex Cisak before substitute Matty Taylor also had an effort blocked but Rovers held on to leave Orient still only a point outside of the play offs.
Rovers manager Darrell Clarke made 6 changes to the side that drew with Wimbledon on Boxing Day. Daniel Leadbitter, Tom Parkes, Stuart Sinclair,Christian Montano, Jermaine Easter and Rory Gaffney all returned. James Clarke, Mark McChrystal, Ollie Clarke, Jake Gosling, Matty Taylor and Ellis Harrison all dropped out.
Orient manager Ian Hendon was forced into one enforced change with Mathieu Baudry suspended following his red card against Portsmouth on Boxing Day. Blair Turgott slotted in at right midfielder while stand in captain Sean Clohessy moved to right back.
Rovers were quickest out of the blocks and the game was just 3 minutes old when Jermaine Easter saw his effort from the right edge of the penalty area tipped over by Alex Cisak for a corner. Orient were finding it difficult to cope with the physical prowess of Rovers striker Rory Gaffney. The striker on loan from Cambridge was bullying both Connor Essam and Jean Yves M’Voto in the Orient back line.
Gaffney was next to go close for the home side, having broke away from Connor Essam, the 26 year old bared down on goal. However left back Cole Kpekawa produced a brilliant last ditch challenge to deny the forward. Orient were finding it hard to create going forward with the home side breaking up play very well. The main danger for Orient was Rovers’s counter attacking when the O’s lost possession.
Rovers continued to be the team most likely to score, much to Orient’s chaotic defending at times. Rovers did open the scoring after 31 minutes, Lee Brown’s cross field ball caught Essam out of position. Gaffney took the ball down with a suspicion of handball, the forward then took on Orient’s defenders who all committed themselves early. Gaffney walked between them, then fired high beyond Cisak to put Rovers ahead.
The goal opened the game up as Orient pushed forward looking for an equaliser. Ollie Palmer who netted twice on Boxing day was played in by his strike partner Jay Simpson but the ball was just too far in front of him to get a shot away. Rovers then should have grabbed a second when Tom Lockyer headed over a Lee Mansell free kick. The Rovers defender was left with a free header inside the six yard box but headed over.
The home side were to rue that missed opportunity on the stroke of half time when Sean Clohessy linked up with Blair Turgott on the right flank. Turgott crossed for an unmarked Jay Simpson who tapped home for his 18th goal of the season to put Orient level at the break. Hendon replaced M’Voto with Frazer Shaw at half time, Cole Kpekawa moved to center half to partner Connor Essam while Shaw filled in a left back.
Orient started the second half brighter and could have taken the lead 5 minutes into the second period. Bradley Pritchard broke forward playing Jay Simpson in, Simpson’s shot was parried behind for a corner by Steve Mildenhall. However, the away side continued to look ridiculously open at the back and Rovers retook the lead.
Brown’s first time ball forward caught Essam underneath the ball, Gaffney’s run was well time but his finish was even better. A first time volley going in off the post leaving Alex Cisak with no chance in the Orient goal. After their second,Rovers sensed blood and pushed for a killer third and nearly grabbed it. Gaffney was too strong for Essam down the right, Gaffney ball was set back for Lee Mansell but the Rovers skipper blazed over.
The O’s pressed for a second but Blair Turgott’s volley was comfortable for Mildenhall before Simpson and Palmer both had efforts blocked inside the penalty area. Gaffney nearly completed his hat trick but Alex Cisak denied the forward after he was played in by Matty Taylor.
Hendon threw on Scott Kashket and John Marquis as Orient pushed for a second equaliser but created little. Bradley Pricthard volleyed over but that was the away sides only real effort in the dying minutes as they fell to their 4th away league defeat of the season.
Same old, same old from Orient. A game where Orient’s undoing was once again themselves. Failure to defend costs you points and results at the end of the day. The defending in the first half was abysmal from all involved, Gaffney and Easter bullied Orient’s back line all match. How often do our strikers do that to the opposition?
Simpson scored yet again but to no avail due to poor defending and a lack of cutting edge in front of goal. Hendon stated post match that “he was hoping funds would be made available in January”. Well surely making the defense more solid is the key, I mean 1 clean sheet in the last 19 league matches is not good enough. Hendon stood shaking his head after Rovers’s first goal yesterday, individual mistakes once more were apparent but one thought Connor Essam is “rusty” according to Ian Hendon. Well why can’t you play Shaw at left back and M’Voto with Kpekawa at center half?
Essam only played 45 minutes at Bishops Stortford last Tuesday (where he gave away a penalty) before playing 2 games in 2 days, is that really good after an injury? It still remains a fact that Orient have to score 2 goals in a match to win due to the inability to defend. A massive task when at times Orient look adrift of ideas in the attacking third. Without Jay Simpson’s goals Orient would sit 14 points worse off, and in 19th place on 22 points.
It is absolutely ludicrous if people don’t think clubs will bid for Simpson, I mean his record 18 goals in 23 games, one hell of a strike rate at this level. Hendon needs to add additions to the squad, someone to take the burden off Simpson in terms of goals but shoring up the defense is a necessity. Keep a clean sheet, guarantees at least a point and with Simpson in attack, the odds on you scoring are always good.
Stevenage away up next, a team that lost to Dagenham yesterday. But we all know that means nothing in football, it is not won on paper and Sheringham will be looking to put one over Hendon. A defeat yesterday and a win on Saturday is better than two draws but after the shambolic defending witnessed by the O’s faithful, I don’t think we can take much more. However we know that at the moment that is a given, anyway let’s see what a new year brings, Can Orient start the year with a win.. any way it comes, I will take it.