Notts County picked up their first home league win of the season after a 3-1 victory over Leyton Orient. After a quiet first half Jonathon Forte and Jonathon Stead both netted within nine minutes of the restart to put County on their way to victory. Defender Louis Laing was sent off for two cautions before Paul McCallum headed home to halve the away side deficit. With Orient pushing forward second half substitute Aaron Collins netted a solo goal to push County up to ninth; Orient drop down to 14th place.
With County still searching for a first home league win of the campaign, John Sherridan opted for the same side that picked up a 3-2 win at Cheltenham last weekend. Jonathon Forte and Jonathan Stead continued in attack having netted 8 of County’s 12 goals before kick off.
Orient, who were unbeaten on their travels so far this season, made only one change to the side that lost 1-0 at home to Yeovil last weekend. Jordan Bowery dropped to the bench while last season’s top scorer Jay Simpson returned to the starting 11.
With Orient preferring to play away from home currently, there was no surprise that the away side started on the front foot. Simpson was first to have an effort at goal, after a knock down from his strike partner Paul McCallum, Simpson swiveled but his volley went wide of the post.
Simpson who had missed the start of the campaign with a back injury was the main force going forward however after the ball fell to the former Arsenal man in the box, he could only manage a shot wide of the mark.
County who were playing a 3-5-2 formation were looking to find Stead and Forte when going forward and could have gone ahead just after the quarter hour mark. Following a neat passage of play down the right between Alex Rodman and Matt Tottle, the latter crossed into the box. The ball fell to Stead, who saw his first effort blocked by Tom Parkes before retrieving possession and forcing Alex Cisak into a save at his near post.
As the game edged towards half time, the pace slowed down in the midfield, with both sides looking to go long to their strikers. County especially were finding joy when looking for Stead who was holding the ball up well for the home side.
The O’s who had picked up 8 of their 11 points away from home were lacking pace, tempo and rhythm to their play, with the midfield failing to gain the initiative in the middle. Harry Cornick and Gavin Massey were non existent in attacking areas with both tracking County’s wing backs.
With the scores level at half time, County knew that their counterparts had an achilles heel as they typically concede just after the restart. Orient had conceded in their last two away games in the first 15 minutes of the second half and yesterday no different for the away side. Following good work in the midfield from O’Connor and Rodman, the ball went wide to the wing back, Tootle. The former Crewe defender, crossed for the unmarked Forte who headed towards goal. Alex Cisak looked to have clawed away the effort only for the assistant referee to award the goal.
With the home side in the ascendancy, they doubled their advantage just two minutes, Stead who had been the danger man for the Magpies was found on the left flank. The former Ipswich striker cut inside, unleashing a fierce low shot beyond the reach of Cisak to put County 2-0 ahead.
Orient threw on deadline day signing Ulnich Nnomo for Harry Cornick for his debut for the East London club. Jay Simpson curled a free kick over for the O’s before a mad minute at Meadow Lane. After Yvan Erichot and County substitute Aaron Collins tangled in the box, it appeared Erichot’s failing arm brought down Collins but appeals were waved away. Straight after, Orient broke forward with Simpson being hauled down by Laing who was already on a booking and was given his marching orders.
With Orient having a man advantage they were pushing for a goal back with Liam Kelly and Jordan Bowery having efforts saved by Adam Collin in the County goal. Collins nearly put the icing on the cake for the home side but after a mazy run could only shoot wide from inside the box.
Orient managed to pull a goal back with three minutes left, Nicky Hunt’s through ball found Bowery in the 18 yard box, he crossed for his strike partner McCallum who headed home. Six minutes of time were added on with Orient searching for an equaliser however left themselves open at the back which Collins punished brilliantly. After picking the ball up on the half way line, Collins broke away from Nnomo before beating Erichot at the back and sliding the ball beyond Cisak to wrap up the game.
Another week, another defeat, more sloppy defending. It seems like the normality now being an Orient fan. Stead and Forte were left with the space of Meadow Lane to grab the first and second goals. A partnership which has netted 66% of County league goals this term, surely that would have been identified.
The midfield, what midfield you might ask. Well, I wrote about the problems Orient faced at home to Yeovil last weekend and what they should have done. https://footballanalyst.net/2016/09/19/eavesy-does-it-for-the-glovers/ What happened today? County outnumbered in the midfield, forcing them to go long which was easy to defend. Weir and Kelly were struggling throughout to cope in the middle, with another game seemingly passing Orient’s captain by. The game was crying out for the energy of Nigel Atangana but the Frenchman on the bench.
Going forward Orient seemed to have lost their way, Cornick and Massey have failed to create in the last two games, why? Well, if you cannot control the midfield battle, then the ball will struggle to make it to the wingers. The space for Orient to exploit was in the channels where the wing backs were pushing forward.
However the inability to defend is killing Orient currently, the non existent marking when crosses come into the box and the space allowed for the team’s most potent attacking threat. 11 of Orient’s 12 goals conceded have been in the second half, a major problem that seems to be being avoided. The last three away games, Orient have conceded in the first 15 minutes after half time, what is being said in the team talks? Whatever is, is not working.
With the league leaders in town on Tuesday, it will be another tough test for Orient. What formation and personnel will Orient play, who knows. But I know who my first name on the teamsheet would be Nigel Atangana.