Scott Brown second half winner for Accrington saw Leyton Orient drop out of the play off places. Brown struck home from just inside the box six minutes into the second half to keep Stanley in with a shout of automatic promotion. Orient who had picked up back to back wins going into the game struggled to create going forward with top scorer Jay Simpson kept quiet throughout. Orient will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Hartlepool on Easter Monday.
Accrington came into the game on the back of a 1-0 victory at Dagenham last weekend with manager John Coleman naming an unchanging side. Billy Kee continued in attack looking to add to his 16 league goals this term. Stanley welcomed back Josh Windass to the bench after the midfielder missed recent matches due to a groin injury.
Leyton Orient were forced into one enforced change from the side that beat Morecambe 1-0 last weekend. Jobi McAnuff was away on International duty with Jamaica so player manager Kevin Nolan brought in Sammy Moore to the midfield.
In an open start at the Wham Stadium, Orient were the brighter of the two sides with Sammy Moore striking over from distance after five minutes. The away side were enjoying more possession but struggling to create going forward. Armand Gnanduillet was partnering Jay Simpson in attack and it was the former who could only shoot wide after making space inside the box.
With both sides in the play off hunt, neither side was able to gain a foothold in the game with both guilty of giving away possession cheaply. Despite Orient’s early play, Accrington grew into the half as it grew on. The home side’s first chance came after 17 minutes, after a short corner found its way back to Sean McConville on the right flank. The midfielder crossed to the back post where Shay McCartan was unmarked however he could only volley high and wide.
Sean McConville then fired wide for the hosts as the game shifted in favour of the home side. Orient were struggling to win the midfield battle with the energy of Scott Brown and Seamus Conneely helping to move Stanley forward. Piero Mingoia then could have put Stanley ahead but his volley was deflected wide by Jerome Binnom-Williams.
As the half wore on, neither keeper was forced into action as both teams seemed to settle for the draw at the break. Stanley started the second half brighter and were the team pressing for the opening goal. It duly arrived six minutes after the interval, a long ball into the left channel saw Shay McCartan hold off Peter Ramage. McCartan laid the ball back to Matty Pearson who’s cross into the centre found Billy Kee. Kee chested the ball down to Scott Brown who fired low beyond Alex Cisak to put Stanley ahead.
Stanley should have doubled their lead moments later when Sean McConville was played through by McCartan but with only Alex Cisak to beat it was the Orient stopper who came out on top. Billy Kee continued to be the figure head for his side, dominating both Orient centre halves as they struggled to contain the Stanley forward. Orient’s key chance came when a good move saw Sean Clohessy released down the right wing, his cross found the head of Armand Gnanduillet but he could only faintly head at Etheridge before Simpson’s rebound effort was blocked.
Orient responded to going behind by bringing on Ollie Palmer and Blair Turgott for Armand Gnanduilet and Sammy Moore. Jay Simpson did well for the O’s but after beating two men on the edge of the box, he could only shoot wide of the mark. Orient defence had seen them keep back to back clean sheets however it was far from certain at the back when they almost gifted Stanley a second. Following a miss clearance by Binnom-Williams, Shaun Brisley under hit his header back to Cisak. McConville nipped in and bared down on goal however the defenders blushes were spared as Cisak was able to put the ball out for a corner.
The O’s looked void of ideas going forward and the hole left by Jobi McAnuff was there for all to see. Clohessy did link well with Palmer but after a driven cross found Palmer, the former Mansfield man saw his first touch desert him and the chance went begging.
The home side were comfortable in their lead with Orient lacking urgency to get back in the game. Billy Kee was a very useful outlet for the home side with the front man helping Stanley manage the game well and pick up fouls for his side. Orient’s last change came when Sean Clohessy departed for Frazer Shaw as Binnom-Williams moved to left midfield while Blair Turgott moved to the right.
The change brought no change to the away side who failed to test Etheridge in the remaining minutes as they dropped to their first away defeat in nine away matches, subsequently dropping out of the play off places after Wycombe’s win over Mansfield.
Well, where to start with that one then. The gaping hole left by Jobi McAnuff was there for all to see, but we knew that he was leaving to play for Jamaica however no game plan appeared evident in the 90 minutes. It was a typical Orient away game under Nolan with the game very cagey and very little chance for either side to create.
There was one major difference, we played 4-4-2 today, not the traditional 4-5-1 formation we have become accustomed to away from home. Did it make a difference? Well we lost the midfield battle today and Accrington were hungrier than us to win the game. The personnel may have not been there to play 4-5-1 but to play Sammy Moore at left midfield seemed a waste. Without McAnuff we had no attacking threat going forward, with only Simpson and Gnanduillet the only real attacking options going forward.
Orient’s tempo was slow throughout, posing the question to why Lloyd James didn’t play some sort of role? Yes, James is lacking match fitness but he is probably only one of a handful who can make a defence splitting pass. Something which we lacked today and I would say for the majority of the season. Even when Orient fell behind, there was no urgency or fight to respond and equalise.
The question will be asked by many, Should Nolan be starting? Well I am believer that if Orient are losing a game, he will rarely if ever substitute himself which surely poses a problem. Today was the perfect opportunity to replace Nolan with Lloyd James and see if that can help the team respond. The second half seemed to pass Orient by, with the midfield non existent for periods with Accrington running at the back four on numerous occasions.
It is understandable that Nolan will make mistakes in first managerial job and I think he will realise that today was one of them days. After completing perfect away performance at Oxford, Notts C, Wycombe and Portsmouth, today was all to different. Tactically Orient were not set up correctly and it was obvious from minute one that the ploy from the home side was to play to the strengths of Billy Kee. Hit balls forward, in and behind Orient’s back four and using Kee as a target man. It worked and Accrington will be there to stay.
Home to Hartlepool next on Monday and I think we know what to expect as Orient will be expected to go on the front foot, pushing for the win. Something we know we struggle with and with McAnuff and Jahraldo-Martin still away on International Duty, where will Nolan go with his team? If it was me I would bring James into central midfield to help Orient try and prize open what will be a tight defensive unit.
From the Oxford away game to today, it is one hell of a difference and one that I hope doesn’t not continue. With Orient’s run in, they have a great chance of making the play offs but with Nolan’s men continuing to be incredibly inconsistent who knows where we will finish come May. It is certain either way that there will be changes in personnel in the summer with a few certainly shown the door.