Lloyd James second half equaliser kept Leyton Orient’s faint hopes of reaching the play offs in tact. James fired home with 15 minutes remaining to earn Orient a draw against ten man York after Jobi McAnuff missed a first half penalty. York took a deserved first half lead through Bradley Fewster after he tapped in a Luke Summerfield cross and were rarely troubled until William Boyle handled in the box but McAnuff missed the spot kick.
York were denied three penalty appeals by referee Trevor Kettle with the third resulting in William Boyle’s dismissal after collecting a second caution for simulation. James fired home from outside the area to draw Orient level before York hit the bar in the dying minutes, leaving both sides with a point they would rather not want.
After suffering a 3-2 defeat at Plymouth on Easter Monday, York manager Jackie McNamara made one change to his side. Russell Penn missed out after picking up an injury at Home Park with James Berrett filling in the midfield.
Orient who lost both games over the Easter period made two changes to their side. Jobi McAnuff came straight back into the starting 11 after being away on International duty while Shaun Brisley was back in the defence after missing the defeat to Hartlepool on Monday. Armand Gnanduillet dropped to the bench while Jack Payne was not included in the match day squad.
With both sides needing a win for very different reasons, it was the home side who were clearly up for the fight. McNamara’s side were straight out of the traps with Michael Coulson having a shot beaten away by Alex Cisak in the opening minute of the match. Orient sat only two points off the play offs before the match but you would have hardly knew that with York continuing to pile forward to try and grab the opening goal.
Lewis Alessandro was a constant nuisance for the Orient defence and was unlucky not to receive a penalty after Shaun Brisley appeared to take out the striker. Trevor Kettle waved away appeals but York continued to push for the opener. With Orient still seemingly on the bus, the home side seized their opportunity and drew first blood. After Orient were not set for a throw in, Luke Summerfield put in a teasing cross from the right to the centre where Bradley Fewster had evaded his marker to tap home past Alex Cisak.
After playing 4-5-1 in most of Nolan’s away games, the 4-4-2 formation was providing York with plenty of space in the midfield. York were able to find extra space with Summerfield and Berrett looking to feed balls into the front man, Fewster. York were winning virtually every second ball over the pitch with one side only showing the fight needed to win the match.
After falling behind, Orient could have drawn level after a move down the left saw player manager Kevin Nolan cross from the left however Ollie Palmer could not connect at the back post. York looked to add a second when Femi Ilesanmi cross from the left was flicked towards goal by Scott Bennett but Cisak held well.
The O’s had failed to test the York goal in the first 35 minutes and it took a Jobi McAnuff effort from the right for their first shot on goal. The Jamaican midfielder drifted inside from the left hands side, unleashing a fierce shot which looked destined for the far corner until Flinders tipped his effort wide.
After being second best for nearly the entire first half, the away side were literally handed a lifeline into the game. After a ball went into the box, William Boyle handled to leave Kettle with no option but to point to the spot. After Jay Simpson missed Orient’s last spot kick, McAnuff stepped up from 12 yards however the 34 year old could only hit the post with his effort.
If Orient had drawn level it would have been harsh on York who felt that they should have been awarded a penalty of their own just before the interval. As James Berrett jinked his way into the box, he went down under a challenge from Peter Ramage. With everyone in the crowd expecting a spot kick, referee Kettle awarded Orient a free kick and cautioned Berrett for simulation.
After the break, Orient still were unable to test Flinders with only Jay Simpson flicking a ball over the bar. The O’s looked to put pressure on the home side who only had kept 1 clean sheet in their last 33 league games with Kevin Nolan having a header parried away from danger.
Lloyd James and Callum Jahraldo-Martin were introduced in place of Nigel Atangana and Sean Clohessy. James provided an instant impact for Orient with his teasing cross headed towards goal by Ramage but Flinders acrobatically tipped his effort over. James’s introduction seemed to provide the away side with an impetus going forward and it was Flinders that kept Orient out once more minutes later. Following a corner, the ball dropped to Jahraldo-Martin on the edge of the box, he laid the ball to McAnuff on the edge of the box. McAnuff curled the ball towards the top corner but Flinders produced an outstanding save to keep York’s lead in tact.
As the game reached the last 15 minutes York saw their third penalty appeal waved away when Boyle went down under a challenge. Kettle thought otherwise, cautioning Boyle for the second time after his handball in the first half to reduce the home side to 10. Orient exploited the man advantage almost immediately with that man Lloyd James who fired home from outside the box to draw them level.
Orient threw Armand Gnanduillet for Ollie Palmer as they looked to go for the all important three points. Despite being down to ten, York knew that they had to try and get a result and went inches of retaking the lead but Fewster header clipped the bar. It was the team with 10 who were forcing more opportunities with Cisak forced into action when Luke Hendrie fierce effort was goal bound.
With six minutes added on, both sides looked to push for a winner but neither side were able to force either keeper in to action as they had to settle for a point. The draw leaves York nine points from safety after Stevenage picked up a vital win away at Luton. Orient sit only one point outside the play offs after Wycombe lost to Wimbledon. But both Wimbledon and Carlisle have closed the gap on Orient who are without a win in their last three.
Play Offs in our grasp? Yeah, really, if you were present for the last three performances, Orient showed no fight in wanting to reach the end of season lottery. It was the feeling of same old story over the Easter weekend with Orient non-existence in the opening 30 minutes of the match. If I was a York fan, blimey I would have been fuming that my side didn’t take all three points.
Denied three penalties, two stonewalls penalties highlighting that when you are at the bottom, you have absolutely no luck. In fairness York played very nice football in the first half, with many wondering which side were only two points off the play offs. Well, as many O’s fans said at Accrington, the Orient performance had a feeling of an “end of season” feel to it.
Why though? With the play offs in sight and with a relatively easy run in compared to their rivals. Kevin Nolan admitted in his post match interview that his side lacked the fight in the opening 30 minutes, surely that is unacceptable for a professional footballer to admit that. Over 600 away fans made the trip to York to be presented with that first half performance and to be trailing to the second worse team in the Football League.
As I have said previously and for almost 6 weeks now, Nolan starting shouldn’t happen. He was poor once more in the midfield but then again, who did have a good game in a black shirt today? The introduction of Lloyd James changed the game completely and provided Orient with an impetus. His first ball forward was a cross straight onto the head of Ramage forcing a save. James should start at Barnet, 100% but what do we know? A midfield involving Sean Clohessy, Kevin Nolan and Nigel Atangana will not create chances going forward meaning a lot is carried on the shoulders of Jobi McAnuff and Jay Simpson.
Nolan is still in his first managerial role at a club but to continually play when you have at least three better midfielders in the squad who offer more than he does currently. Sammy Moore, Lloyd James and Jack Payne all have more to offer than Nolan but will the former West Ham drop himself? I doubt it but it is quite clear that Orient are not good enough for the play offs and I think most will agree with me.
Nolan needs a summer rebuild where he can bring in his own players and get rid of the dead wood, which there is plenty by the way. The worrying thought is the player that offered us the most in attacking areas today is out of contract this summer. Will James be offered a new deal? Well I think he should but what do I know?
Barnet away next up, the game feels me with excitement. Well hang on….. Surely we have to play a bit better at the Hive next week, I mean 600 Orient fans can’t put that much pressure on their side can they?…..