Leyton Orient finally claimed their first win of the season last night away at Maidstone United. The O’s who had drawn their three previous games picked up maximum points in Kent thanks to goals from Josh Koroma and Marvin Ekpiteta. Shamir Mullings did halve the deficit late on but Justin Edinburgh’s men hung on for three precious points.
Fresh from their 2-2 home draw with Barrow on Saturday, head coach Justin Edinburgh made three changes to his side. James Dayton and Myle Judd started for the first time this season while Josh Koroma partnered MacAuley Bonne in attack. Club captain Jobi McAnuff missed out through injury while James Alabi and Sam Ling dropped to the bench.
Maidstone who were looked to bounce back from defeat at Halifax made three changes. Michael Phillips, Michee Efete and Joe Quigley were handed starts as George McLennan, Alex Wynter and Shamir Mullings dropped to the bench.
In a lively opening period it was Maidstone who started the better enjoying possession. Former O’s winger Blair Turgott was looking to create for the home side but his cross shot ran to safety. Turgott and Jamar Loza were looking to cut in from their wide berths to create problems for Orient. It was Loza who was next to try and effort as he cut in from the right but his shot was blocked by Marvin Ekpiteta.
The game was open with both sides looking to get down and play football. Edinburgh’s men were giving Loza too much space down the left but were thankful for lack of final delivery. However, minutes later Orient grabbed the opening goal through Josh Koroma. A Dean Brill goal kick was flicked on by MacAuley Bonne to Koroma, the O’s youngster flicked the ball over Stones defender, Will De Havilliand before firing through Lee Worgan to put Orient ahead.
Bonne was dominated the Stones defenders in the air winning the majority of forward balls. Captain on the night, Charlie Lee was next to try his luck but Worgan was always a match for his tame effort. The O’s were pressing balls in midfield, trying to keeper Maidstone at bay with Craig Clay doing an excellent job in central areas.
Maidstone midfielder Stuart Lewis tested the palms of Brill after neat play from the hosts saw Lewis curl an effort from outside the box. Orient were linking well going forward and doubled their advantage ten minutes before the break. A James Dayton right wing corner was met by defender Marvin Ekpiteta who glanced home for his first goal in an Orient shirt.
The O’s were looking comfortable, the only side note was a handbag incident which saw Bonne booked after a handbag incident with Jamar Loza. Orient had the cushion at the break but knew they had to start well in the second period. Ollie Muldoon fired a free kick over for the hosts while Craig Clay fired over for Orient down the other end.
With Maidstone pushing forward searching for a way back into the game they made changes to try and grab the important goal. Orient were looking to hit them on the break and nearly wrapped up victory through Dayton but he saw his effort saved. The Stones were looking to get crosses into the box and Ekpiteta did brilliantly to clear a free kick.
Then what could have been the controversial moment, Koroma broke into the box and it looked an almost certain penalty. However referee David Rock though Koroma had dived under a Jack Paxman challenge and he booked the O’s youngster. Edinburgh was seething even more about the decision as Maidstone halved the deficit with ten minutes to play. Orient left Seth Nana-Twumasi with too much space down the left, his inswinging cross found the head of substitute Shamir Mullings who nodded past Brill.
The goal invited Maidstone forward and saw Orient drop deeper and deeper. Koroma nearly made the game safe but his curling effort from 25 yards clipped the post and went to safety. Were Orient going to see the game out? With five additional minutes added, the O’s had to be thankful for a wonder Dean Brill safe from Blair Turgott to give them all three points in Kent.
Finally a first win of the season after four games. Unbeaten in four, and just four points from the top of the table. Not a bad start in hindsight, drawing the first three games against decent footballing sides before maximum points in Kent last night. It was a game where Orient stood strong and battled their was to three points.
The defence were solid throughout, Ekpiteta was once again assured and composed on the ball and did the simple things right last night. But as we know he is young and will have up and down performances as Saturday’s against Barrow showed. Josh Coulson a leader at the back and gives the backline some confidence and experience.
Myles Judd did very well in his first start of the season, replacing Sam Ling who hadn’t started the season that well. Judd defended well preventing crosses into the box but he is still learning the game.
Josh Kororma justified his start in attack and he linked very well with Bonne in attack. He grabbed his first of the season and was extremely unlucky not to have been awarded a penalty. The main difference with the strikers at Maidstone was Koroma looked for Bonne’s flick ons. James Alabi certainly knows that he is not guaranteed a start with Kororma continually banging on the door.
Then the biggest surprise for me last night was the performance of Craig Clay. It has been fair to say he hasn’t started the season well. Despite playing every minute before last night, his distribution and overall play was great. However last night, we may have seen what he brings to the side, energy, work rate and pressing in midfield. He was pressing Maidstone into mistakes and giving options going forward. The only thing left to do now, is put those performances in on a more consistent basis.
Next up Boreham Wood at home, a chance to pick up back to back wins and cement our place into the top seven. The start isn’t looking so bad after all and with no team with a 100% record left, everyone will take points off each other. The result should give the team a confidence boost and with Gorman nearing a first team return, Clay, Lee and Alex Lawless will need to be on their guard.
Anyway with barely 2 1/2 hours sleep, back to work. But it was definitely worth it after that win last night.