Leyton Orient’s first win first win in four games helped Kevin Nolan to victory in his first game as player manager. Nolan’s side picked up a 2-0 victory at Wycombe Wanderers yesterday thanks to second half strikes from top scorer Jay Simpson and Hull City loanee Calaum Jalhrado-Martin. The former West Ham captain was appointed on Thursday after Ian Hendon was dismissed last weekend and saw his side move to within 2 points off the play offs places.
Wycombe who lost their third round replay at Aston Villa on Tuesday made 2 changes from that side. Goalkeeper Matt Ingram moved to QPR on Friday so Joe Lynch debutised in goal while Matt Bloomfield missed out through injury with Sido Jombati coming in.
New player manager Kevin Nolan made 3 changes to the side that lost 3-1 to Exeter City last weekend. Bradley Pritchard and Cole Kpekawa dropped to the bench with Fraser Shaw and new signing Nigel Atangana starting. JeanYves-M’Voto left the club in midweek so the O’s welcomed back club captain Mathieu Baudry after serving his 3 match suspension after his red card on Boxing day. Nolan named himself on the bench.
Both sides struggled to get the ball down in the early exchanges with much of the play being in the air. Chances were few and far between as both sides looked to gain a foothold in the match. Garry Thompson and Sam Wood fired over from distance for the hosts while Ollie Palmer saw his header blocked from a Jobi McAnuff cross.
Orient were without a clean sheet since mid October in the league and despite a change of management the defense still looked susceptible to mistakes. Nigel Atangana was making his debut after signing from Portsmouth in midweek and was breaking up Wycombe’s attacking play, providing a well needed shield to the Orient back line.
Calaum Jahraldo-Martin was also looking lively for the visitors,causing problems and tracking back very well. The first half was really passing both teams by but Ollie Palmer did glance another McAnuff freekick wide of the target. Atangana proved his worth when his last ditch tackle on Luke O’Nien prevented the Wycombe man from taking a shot at goal.
Referee Darren Bond was letting a lot of decisions go for both sides and Ollie Palmer saw his penalty appeal turned down after being pushed over in the Wycombe box. Orient’s best move of the half came just before the interval, after a free flowing move Fraser Shaw approached Wycombe’s 18 yard box on the left. His ball around the side of Sido Jombati found Jahraldo-Martin who had moved inside from his right flank. Jahraldo Martin’s shot appeared to be tipped over by Joe Lynch however appeals for a corner were waved away.
Orient started the second half as they finished the first on the attack and Jay Simpson saw his goal bound shot blocked after collecting Ollie’s Palmer’s knock down. Despite’s Orient’s pressure and intent on going forward, Simpson could only fire wide off the mark as neither keeper were tested. However the away side did take the lead after 64 minutes and it had a route one feel to it. A long ball from Alex Cisak found the head of skipper Mathieu Baudry, his header fell to the unmarked Jay Simpson, who took one touch and fired home beyond Lynch to put Orient ahead. Simpson’s 21st goal of a prolific campaign celebrating much like his player manager had in his career with the “chicken dance”
The away side deserved their lead and continued to flow forward but Jobi McAnuff could only fire wide after breaching the Wycombe back line. Nigel Atangana was forced off with what was later confirmed as cramp after an impressive debut and looks a much needed addition to the Orient squad, Bradley Pricthard replaced him.
Wycombe lacked a spark in attacking areas and despite introducing Paris Cowan-Hall who joined on loan before the game his cross could only be flicked wide by second half substitute Gozie Ugwu. Ollie Palmer was leading the line really well for the away side, helping to relieve pressure on his defense. Palmer got a standing ovation from the 805 travelling supporters as he was replaced by new signing Armand Gnanduillet who joined the club from Chestefield on Friday.
Wycombe last chance came when Aaron Pierre’s header from a corner was headed away by Bradley Pricthard as the Orient back line held firm. Nolan’s side wrapped up victory just before the 90 minutes, a ball out of defence found Simpson who laid the ball back to Jahraldo-Martin who in turn played the ball in the left channel for Simpson to run onto. Jahraldo-Martin continued his run forward and Simpson’s through ball was inch perfect into his path to slot home for his first goal in an Orient shirt and rubber stamp the victory.
How football changes in a week? A Win? Yes. 2 Goals scored? Yes and A CLEAN SHEET. After Ian Hendon’s dismissal last weekend, the rumour mill was sent into over drive with who was going to be the next Orient boss. President Francesco Bechetti opted for player manager Kevin Nolan who was appointed on Thursday and becomes the 6th manager under the Italian’s ownership. A poison chalice some may call it but Nolan started as he meant to go on.
Only Orient’s second clean sheet in their last 22 league matches and a much needed one at that. But let’s be honest there were only two shots on target in the match both were goals for Orient. Wycombe rarely troubled Orient’s backline but they still looked nervy shaky in the game. Better sides will trouble Orient more than Wycombe did and top of Nolan’s shopping list has to be center halves. Surely you would think?
However the signing of Nigel Atangana is a shrewd one and on yesterday’s evidence a very good one. Orient have been missing a defensive midfielder who breaks up play and shields the back 4, Atangana looks the perfect fit for that job. The 26 year old was replaced due to cramp and it is not surprising with yesterday’s game his first start since November in the league. With more games under his belt and his fitness increasing, he will be an integral part of Orient till the end of the season.
Fraser Shaw had another really good game in an Orient shirt which makes it even more baffling that Ian Hendon decided to drop the former Dulwich Hamlet defender on numerous occasions. The left back who joined in the summer, has very good potential and of course he will make bad decisions as he is still learning his trade. But with a run of games he will continue to grow as a player.
Anybody who was at the game yesterday will understand that top of Nolan’s to do list is get Jahraldo-Martin on loan till the end of the season. The winger on loan from Hull City was one of the shining light at Adams Park, the ability to beat a player and the desire to get back and defend for his team. He deserved his goal which was probably the first time Orient scored a goal on the counter attack. The pace is much needed in the side and his link up play with Palmer and Simpson looks already developing.
Jay Simpson continues to score goals and yesterday showed that once again his deadly inside the box. One chances is always he needed to notch his 21st league goal of the season but I thought Ollie Palmer played really well. His holdup play in the second half was brilliant relieving pressure when Orient needed him. The signing of Gnanduillet has certainly added competition in attack which Palmer seems to understand. I know people say all work and no goals but I feel his work is needed in attack to help provide Simpson with chances in games.
Well, “baby steps” as Kevin Nolan stated in his press conference on Friday, it is clear that Nolan has been brought into to try and gain promotion. It appears that the budget is there for Nolan with the 2 new signings and with more coming in before the transfer window ends. 2 more games this week with Newport and Cambridge at home, surely two wins will be vital to push Orient in amongst the play off places. The mood appears to have changed at Brisbane Road but let’s remember it has only been one game under Nolan. They key will be who is brought in before the window and if Jay Simpson stays. Well you can say there is a never dull week in the life of an Orient fan…