Leyton Orient’s Easter got worse as they lost their second game in four days to Hartlepool, leaving them two points off the play off places. Billy Paynter put Pool ahead four minutes into the second half, tapping in at the back post. The O’s looked to respond but failed to test visiting keeper Trevor Carson with Nathan Thomas wrapping up the victory with a fine individual effort with 20 minutes remaining. The win stretches Hartlepool’s unbeaten run to six games as they move up to 17th, 14 points above the bottom two.
After defeat to Accrington Stanley on Good Friday, player manager Kevin Nolan made two changes to his side. Shaun Brisley missed out due to injury while Sammy Moore dropped to the bench. Ollie Palmer partnered Armand Gnanduillet in attack with Jay Simpson playing in the hole behind them. Jack Payne came in to the midfield in place of Moore, Sean Clohessy moved to right back with Nicky Hunt partnering Peter Ramage at the heart of the defense.
Hartlepool came into the game unbeaten in their last five matches and manager Craig Hignett named the same starting 11 for the fourth game running. Billy Paynter continued in attack with Luke James and Nathan Thomas either side of the front man. Rob Jones recovered from his head injury and was named on the bench.
With Orient playing 4-3-3, the change of formation nearly forced an early goal for the home side. Following an Ollie Palmer interception, the striker looked to play in Gnanduillet however the Frenchman poked the ball over the Hartlepool crossbar. Despite the home side having the larger spell of possession, it was failing to trouble the visitors with the ball being played around the back and in midfield.
Hartlepool who had picked up form since Craig Hignett appointment in February had a great chance to take the lead but Adam Jackson could only head a Nathan Thomas free kick wide at the back post. Orient were looking to commit men forward in attack as they pressed for the opening goal but Hartlepool were highlighting their danger on the break.
The game was beginning to open up with Ollie Palmer next to go close for the home side, after a Nicky Hunt lofted ball into the left channel. Palmer picked up possession, drove towards the penalty spot but his goal bound shot was deflected wide for a corner. The O’s were enjoying a spell of continued pressure but Nigel Atangana saw an effort blocked before Kevin Nolan could only tamely volley after being found unmarked at the back post.
Hartlepool were offering a threat going forward through their wide men Luke James and Nathan Thomas. It was Jackson who headed straight at Cisak following another cross into the box before Billy Paytner had a goal ruled out for offside following a well taken free kick. Orient’s pattern of play was becoming increasingly easy for Hartlepool to defend with Sean Clohessy failing to beat the first man with his crosses.
With the scores level at the break, it was the visitors who were out the traps the quickest at took the lead four minutes after the interval. Following a move down the left flank, a neat one-two put Jake Carroll in the clear, the left back crossed to the unmarked Paynter to slide in at the back post to put Hartlepool ahead.
After falling behind Orient waited 10 minutes before bringing on Fraser Shaw and Blair Turgott on for Armand Gnanduillet and Kevin Nolan. However despite moving to a 4-4-2, Orient failed to create going forward and Hartlepool looked the more threatening to increase their lead. Indeed they did with 21 minutes remaining, Nathan Thomas picked the ball up on the right wing, he jinked his way into the box and past Fraser Shaw. Thomas opened his body up and curled the ball high beyond Alex Cisak to put Pool 2-0 ahead.
After falling further behind, it was Hartlepool who nearly added a brilliant third, Lewis Hawkins picked the ball up 25 yards out, his goalbound effort was brilliantly tipped over by Cisak to prevent a third goal. Lloyd James replaced Jack Payne in Orient’s last change as Orient looked to pull a goal back.
With the game entering the last 10 minutes, Trevor Carson pulled off an excellent save to prevent Jerome Binnom-Williams’s header from creeping in after he connected with a James corner. Before big shout for a penalty after a goalbound header was blocked on the line however with the Orient players appealing, referee Fredick Graham waved away their appeals.
Jay Simpson nearly reduced the scoreline after he picked up an Ollie Palmer knock down but his effort was smothered by Carson. Pool could have added a third in stoppage time when substitute Michael Woods broke through but after rounding Cisak, the Orient keeper managed to block his effort.
So two defeats from two over Easter, where does that leave Kevin Nolan’s Orient? Well I think it highlights that there is still major work to be done on the training ground. Yes Jobi McAnuff and Callum Jahraldo-Martin were away on international duty but we have known they were going away for a while. Was there a plan b to play in those games, all I could see was long diagonal balls forward and putting the ball wide to a full back, who never beats the first man.
I think anybody could have told you how Hartlepool would have set up yesterday, 10 men behind the ball when defending and Orient would not be able to break them down. Again much like Friday, the tempo and pace of play was too slow to harm Pool meaning it is very easy to defend. Jack Payne was the only man in a red shirt looking to get the ball down and play however the lack of movement when Orient were in possession was terrible.
Were the players tired? Playing two games in four days? Never, that was the fourth consecutive game that Hartlepool had named the same starting 11 and showed just how to execute a game plan. The pattern of the game was there for all to see in the team selection, two big forward and Jay Simpson with Jack Payne the only man in the midfield looking to play the ball on the floor. Like I said on twitter before the match, “attacking team but worried that without an early goal, there is nothing to change it from the bench”.
So we go 1-0 down four minutes after the break, what should your changes be? Well surely Lloyd James and Sammy Moore had to have been introduced. Two players who would have helped changed the pattern of play, but Blair Turgott and Fraser Shaw were brought on. Don’t get me started on Blair Turgott, a player that never looks like he has been coached in his lifetime.
Orient still sit only 2 points off the play offs however you wouldn’t no that after the last two performances. No energy, no enthusiasm, no pace the list goes on and it all cannot just come from one player, Jobi McAnuff. Play offs are still within grasp however would it cover over some major flaws within the squad? There are plenty of players that will be shown the door in the summer and there will be another rebuilding job to be done.
Lastly, I don’t know how many more times I and many other will have to say, what does Kevin Nolan do to start every game? He has been poor in the midfield for weeks and playing him at home does not work. I can see that, others can see that and it plays straight into the hands off the opposition. I think in the summer there will be a major decision by Nolan need to be made, Do I want to be a manager or not? It is now 13 games under Nolan and I think many have seen that you need a manager on the sideline not berating the official throughout the 90 minutes on the pitch.
York away Saturday, a team sitting 2nd bottom and winless in their last 9 matches. Being an Orient fan, it seems almost envitable that we will end their winless run on Saturday. I for sure know that they will be no pushover what so ever. I would like to see a game plan to go to York with as in my opinion we have not seen one in the last three games. I suppose the only saving grace after yesterday’s performance is it didn’t cost me £60 round trip in train fares like Friday.