March a key month for the O’s, safety not secured yet and the matter of a Tuesday night FA Trophy trip to Gateshead. Would Orient’s run in the trophy be extended or would they fall foul of their defensive problems again?
First up a trip to Dover Athletic, de ja vu, haven’t we been here before at the start of a month, and we all know what happened their. Unsurprisingly the game was far from the goal fest we were graced with in the trophy. With the beast of the east in full effect, it was more of a beach than a football pitch but credit to Dover for getting the game on.
In hindsight with a squad decimated with illness, it didn’t help the O’s as they fell victim to a 1-0 defeat. Orient looked comfortable throughout but their inability to finish off their chances cost them once more. Bonne and Holman both should have given the O’s the lead but Mitch Pinnock had the final say when his curling shot found the top corner and handed Dover the points.
Next the trip we all had been looking forward to Gateshead away on a Tuesday night in March. What dreams are made of, or more fitting nightmares. With only one fit central midfielder and only four subs on the bench, signs were not good. Indeed two minutes in, 1-0 down when Danny Johnson swept home after being unmarked in the box. The O’s looked shell shocked and were 2-0 down when Dan Happe decided it would be wise to take a touch rather than clearing the ball. Johnson nipped in and Happe just kicked him, penalty given, penalty scored 2-0 down, the trophy dream was falling apart.
Lamar Reynolds was causing problems down the left (more from him later) but Gateshead kept coming and Brill had to be on hand to keep the score down. Mooney saw a header saved in the dying minutes of the first half. A rocket was needed at half time, and the response came when James Brophy halved the deficit on 53 minutes. The O’s grew into the contest with Mooney heading the equaliser with 20 minutes to go.
Were Orient going to complete an unlikely comeback, no, the moment that still brings back nightmares even now. Lamar Reynolds what the hell were you doing, just watch the video, I have used far too many expletives on it already. Anyway his school boy defending allowed Barrow to cross, Peniket tapped home the winner. Trust me now, that was one depressing walk back to the hotel in Newcastle then another 3 hours spent with a magician, I bloody love them……..
After the poor performance in Gateshead, Ebbsfleet travelled to Brisbane Road, would a response come. Well, James Brophy and Josh Koroma were causing havoc down the flanks with Bonne going close. But you’ve guessed it, Orient hit with the sucker punch, as an Ebbsfleet break saw Corey Whitely slot home to make it 1-0. Luke Coulson could have made it 2-0 but Orient responded when man of the moment Brophy smashed a cross shot which Kenny Clark could only direct into his own net. Brophy continued to cause problems but Orient still could be caught on the break, in the end the points were shared.
Torquay at home next, a Tuesday night under the lights at Brisbane Road. The scene was set…. for probably one of the worse performances under Justin Edinburgh. Torquay a side fighting for their lives down the bottom and Orient started strongly but struggled to create chances. Then what everybody could probably sense, a Torquay goal. Brett Williams turned Caprice inside out down the right so much it looked like it was an early audition for Strictly, his cross found Romain who headed home. Safe to say, 1-0 smash and grab, but being at home, it was up to Orient to set the tempo and score the equaliser but they couldn’t.
A trip south to Eastleigh next, with artic temperatures and a wind chill just like a blast freezer, the game was fantastic, end to end, full of chances. I wish I could say that, but it was a game missing any real quality and 90 minutes you wouldn’t get back in your life. McAnuff hit the bar with a free kick and that pretty much explains the chances in the game.
Back to Brisbane Road, Woking the visitors, a team in free fall, surely Orient would bounce back with a win in this one. After Harrold managed barely 360 seconds after yet another injury, Woking could have taken the lead when Jason Banton superb curling effort smashed with bar with Brill an onlooker in the Orient goal. The O’s responding and pressed high, Dan Holman nicked the ball sliding in MacAuley Bonne, he took two bites at the cherry but he made no mistake and made it 1-0.
Brophy was causing mayhem on the left and his mazy run earned a penalty for Orient, Bonne stepped up and finished once more. A comfortable win you may think was coming, actually Woking were obviously given a shot up the rear end at half time. It was all the visitors in the second half with Brill having to be on hand to keep the ball out. The game turned back to Orient after Woking were reduced to 10 men when Regan Charles-Cook was stretchered off due to injury and they made all their subs. Brophy capped a man of the match performance adding a third which made the score line harsher than it should have been.
Last up a Good Friday trip North to Guiseley, the team rock bottom, surely we would end the month with maximum points. In rather uneventful first half where the O’s fans were giving the Guiseley keeper plenty of stick behind the goal. It must of work as minutes into the second half, he took out Bonne and received his marching orders. McAnuff stepped up and curled in a glorious free kick to make it 1-0, the 36 year old was again in brilliant form and added a second this time, cutting in from the right and smashed home from around 25 yards.
Then a goal which definitely will be on Football blooper videos in years to come, Joe Widdowson back past bobbled over Brill’s foot, straight into the Orient goal. Guiseley couldn’t believe their luck, Kent Teague couldn’t believe his eyes. Would Orient blow another lead, no, James Brophy’s run slipped in Mooney who added a third and made it back to back wins at the end of March.
Definitely an up and down month, which certainly highlighted to Justin Edinburgh there was still plenty of work to do at Brisbane Road over the summer. A disappointing end to the FA Trophy run but being 2-0 down away from home after 16 minutes after throwing away a 3-0 lead in the original tie, you don’t deserve to go through. With Orient looking certain of National League status, would Orient keep their unbeaten run going until the end of the season…..