Mistake, after mistake, after mistake stated Leyton Orient player manager Kevin Nolan as he saw his side crumble to a 3-1 home defeat to Cambridge yesterday. Nolan had seen his side pick up to back to back wins in his first two matches in charge but once Ben Williamson pounced on a poor Frazer Shaw header to slot the U’s ahead, it was always going to be an uphill task.
Williamson doubled the U’s lead 8 minutes into the second half after nipping in after a mistake by Connor Essam. Recent signing Armand Gnanduillet halved the deficit after poking in from a corner but Orient then gifted Cambridge their third goal of the afternoon. Ben Williamson out muscled Connor Essam on the byline, squared for new signing Jimmy Spencer to sweep in on his debut for Cambridge.
Kevin Nolan named an unchanged side for the 3rd consecutive game after back to back wins over Wycombe and Newport. New loan signing Shaun Brisley was named on the bench alongside midfielder Sammy Moore who had recovered from a knee injury and Kevin Nolan.
Cambridge boss Shaun Derry made 3 changes with Ryan Donaldson, Harrison Dunk and Josh Coulson all coming back in to the side. Mark Roberts, Robbie Simpson and Karlan Ahearne-Grant all dropped to the bench. New signing Jimmy Spencer was named on the bench.
The game started brightly with a good tempo to the play but much like Tuesday’s victory over Newport, Orient seemed content to sit behind the ball and look to counter attack. Cambridge enjoyed much of the possession and took the lead after a terrible mistake in the Orient defense. After a long ball forward was allowed to bounce, Frazer Shaw tried to head back to Alex Cisak, however his header was terribly short. U’s forward Ben Williamson nipped in to accept the gift, round Cisak and slot home to put his side ahead.
After keeping back to back clean sheets in the last two games, the Orient defense showed all the wrong signs that they were back to where they started when Kevin Nolan was appointed. Despite falling behind, Orient were still looking nervy at the back with a mistake never far away, Sean Clohessy was beaten down the left with Harrison Dunk’s cross headed over his own bar by Frazer Shaw.
With the game getting scrappy, Orient’s decision making had to be questioned at times. Mathieu Baudry did head over a Jobi McAnuff corner but Cambridge keeper Will Norris remained untested in goal. Much of Orient’s play just like the rest of the season came down their right hand side through full back Sean Clohessy. Clohessy crossed several times but brilliant defending from Leon Legge prevented Jay Simpson from adding to his 22 league goals this season.
Neither side made any changes at the break however O’s striker Armand Gnanduillet was given a pep talk from Nolan during the interval. With Gnanduillet ready to be introduced, Cambridge doubled their lead through Williamson for his second of the game. Another gift presented the U’s striker, a ball in the right channel saw Connor Essam pushed of the ball far far too easily. Williamson entered the penalty area and beat Cisak at his near post to extend their lead.
Gnaduillet was introduced after the goal and the former Chesterfield forward only took 3 minutes to halve the deficit. Following a Jobi McAnuff corner, Cambridge failed to clear the ball and Gnanduillet poked beyond Norris to give Orient a hope to recover the game. Then another turning point Nolan introduced Blair Turgott in place of Calaum Jahraldo Martin.
Cambridge brought on their new man Jimmy Spencer in place of Ryan Donaldson and Spencer only took 2 minutes to net his first Cambridge goal. After yet another mistake at the back, a ball played over the top saw Williamson beat Essam for pace. Williamson squared to Spencer who swept beyond Mathieu Baudry on the line to reestablish their 2 goal lead.
Nolan introduced himself in place of Jack Payne in a hope of saving the game. However despite large amount of possession, Orient lacked a cutting edge in front of goal. Armand Gnanduillet had shot well saved but that was Orient’s only real effort until the final minutes. Turgott had a shot blocked before Nolan himself dragged a shot wide as the former West Ham suffered his first defeat in management.
Well where do you start with that one? Individual errors once more giving everybody a sense of de ja vu. The first goal conceded was a terribly hit back pass but was so preventable, the golden rule when defending is DON’T LET THE BALL BOUNCE. What happens, Shaw let’s that happen, put under pressure then under hits his back pass. However, Shaw is young and has potential and has been one of our best defenders this season. Despite the mistake, he didn’t seem to let it play on his mind and continued to play his own game.
However if two words are needed to describe that match then CONNOR ESSAM, says it all. Everybody who was present at Brisbane Road yesterday would know exactly where I am coming from. Every since his injury against Accrington he has been poor, even in the back to back clean sheets, Essam has still looked shaky at the back. Today must have been the worst spell for an Orient center half in a game. The second goal was horrendous viewing, “out muscled” seems too generous to Essam who let in Williamson in to score his second. However Cisak has a lot to answer for with the golden rule for Goalkeeping is not to get beaten on your near post.
The third Cambridge goal, Essam gets beaten for pace, even having a couple of yards on Williamson was not enough to prevent him nipping in. He had the easy decision to square to Spencer to slot home. Sean Clohessy is a man who started the season well, however since I would say November time, he has been poor. It is no surprise that Nolan is looking to bring another right back in as Clohessy seems to have no competition in that position. Scunthorpe away, the first goal was a mistake, Exeter at home two goals at the back post behind Clohessy. Defensively Orient have been and still are poor but does the blame lie with a manager who inherited them…..
However, one decision Nolan got majorly wrong yesterday was failing to bring off Essam after getting the score back to 2-1. Essam was a disaster waiting to strike again in the second half, with a new center half brought in on the bench that is the change that should have been made. Shaun Brisley should have introduced after 60 minutes but instead another Essam mistake, 3 minutes after Turgott’s introduction Spencer slotted home number 3. A manager with more experience might have done that, keep the opposition out means you only have to score 1 goal. Failing to sure up the defence resulting Orient losing a third and killer goal.
But it has been 2 wins out of three games, and 6 points from a possible 9. However let’s not forget that Orient won their first five games then suffered a heavy defeat at Exeter and took time to recover from the defeat. Maybe the defeat will hit home to Nolan that it will not be plain sailing at Orient. There is a lot of work to do and people may look back to this game as a turning point. Me and @les_bristow spoke earlier in the week stating that a defeat might actually put everybody’s expectations into perspective. I mean defending like yesterday at Portsmouth next weekend and the score will be 5 or more. Orient were lucky to beat Pompey on boxing day and Portsmouth have been the best side to play Orient this season in the league. It is a big week for Nolan and his side, if he wasn’t already I think there will be some shopping down before the window shuts on Monday.