Leyton Orient lose thriller at home to National League high-flyers Aldershot Town
PUBLISHED: 17:05 27 January 2018 | UPDATED: 18:06 27 January 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
National League: Leyton Orient 2 Aldershot Town 3
Leyton Orient and Aldershot Town produced a superb five-goal thriller at Brisbane Road, but the hosts ended up on the wrong side of the scoreline.
Macauley Bonne and George Elokobi netted for the O’s, but Gary Waddock’s Shots grabbed the winner 14 minutes from time in east London.
Justin Edinburgh could be proud of his players, but this result means they remain in a relegation battle.
This was Orient’s first game since January 13 after last Saturday’s clash at Halifax Town was postponed hours before kick-off.
Edinburgh made five changes to the team which started at Bognor Regis Town in the FA Trophy two weeks ago.
Matt Harrold, Lamar Reynolds and Ebou Adams dropped to the bench with Dan Holman, James Dayton and Alex Lawless replacing them.
Bondz N’Gala dropped out of the squad completely having now returned to parent club Dagenham & Redbridge following the completion of his loan so Josh Coulson came in for him.
Coulson partnered Dan Happe at the heart of the O’s defence while Elokobi moved to left-back with Joe Widdowson out due to suspension.
Holman made his long awaited debut after signing on loan from Cheltenham Town over three weeks ago while the number of attacking options available to Edinburgh saw David Mooney miss out of the match day squad all together.
The Brisbane Road pitch, which was in a bad condition before and after the game with Boreham Wood on January 6, looked in slightly better shape, but still wasn’t at its vintage best, especially with rain slowly beginning to fall again before kick-off.
Orient got proceedings underway and didn’t need long to create the first attack of the game, which resulted in the opener!
Lawless passed into the path of stand-in captain Jobi McAnuff, he controlled before putting Bonne through on goal and he slotted the ball through the legs of Lewis Ward to put O’s 1-0 up with his 16th goal of the season.
After just 19 seconds, Orient were ahead and had made the perfect start in the rain at Brisbane Road.
The visitors immediately looked to regroup, but O’s stood firm and created another opportunity in the 14th minute.
Bonne combined impressively with Holman before the former saw a shot blocked by Will Evans, as the home side continued to show their potency going forward.
Five minutes later and Shots boss Gary Waddock showed his class when Evans fouled Holman near the touchline and the Orient forward slide into the concrete ground.
Waddock immediately checked to see if the O’s striker was okay before play resumed and McAnuff beat two opponents to get into the penalty area, but his shot was blocked for a corner.
The pace of the game became frantic now with Shots breaking from the Orient corner, but Craig Clay was able to clear the danger.
Aldershot attacked again moments later, in the 22nd minute, as James Rowe passed into the path of Lewis Kinsella, but his dangerous cross was tipped behind by Dean Brill for a corner, which O’s defended with ease.
Back down the other end and McAnuff’s influence was increasing as he let fly again from just inside the penalty area, but Ward got down low to save and grab the loose ball with Bonne ready to pounce.
The visitors were the next side to attack and good play between Scott Rendell and Josh McQuoid saw the latter work a half of space.
Lawless brilliantly slide in to block his first effort and although the loose ball fell to McQuoid again, Coulson was able to deflect his second shot behind for a corner in the 27th minute.
Shots, despite the condition of the pitch worsening, continued to try and pass the ball out from the back, but Orient were pressing magnificently.
Clay in particular was harrying the Aldershot players fantastically and good work by him saw Bonne control a loose ball and smash an effort towards goal from 30-yards, but it sailed over in the 33rd minute.
Two minutes later and good play by Rowe saw Cheye Alexander get in behind the O’s back four, but his low cross was just in front of Shamir Fenelon and Brill was able to gather.
More good pressing by the hosts saw Manny Oyeleke lose possession and McAnuff passed into Holman’s path.
The Orient loanee drilled a low effort towards the corner from 18-yards, but Ward made a superb one-handed save to keep the score at 1-0.
A delay in play occurred moments later when Dayton went down requiring treatment after appearing to suffer a reoccurrence of the calf injury which ruled him out of the Bognor game earlier this month.
When the game resumed, Orient created another chance and Bonne really should have doubled his and O’s tally.
Holman did well on the right and skinned Kinsella before cutting back to his strike partner, but Bonne miscued his effort and saw it curl harmless wide from just eight-yards in the 40th minute.
Dayton was replaced three minutes later with Koroma coming on in his place before Aldershot attacked again and this time they equalised.
McQuoid was picked out in space in the middle of the pitch and found Fenelon, who had drifted away from Elokobi, and he slotted past Brill to level a minute before half time.
It was a bitter pill to swallow for O’s who had largely defended well despite plenty of pressure from the Shots.
Three minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the half and Lawless went into the book of referee Peter Wright, which was his 10th caution of the season meaning he’ll now miss the trips to Halifax Town and Dover Athletic.
Moments later and the first half was brought to a close with both sides producing a quality opening 45 minutes of football.
Aldershot got the second period underway and although they didn’t score as quickly as O’s did in the first half, they did take the lead in the 47th minute.
Happe fouled Rowe and Adam McDonnell curled a free kick up and over the wall, but his effort hit the crossbar and bounced down on the line.
While some Aldershot players appealed that it had crossed the line, Evans kept his cool and headed the rebound in from close range to put the away side 2-1 up.
Orient responded well though, with Holman forcing a corner three minutes later after having a shot deflected wide.
Edinburgh’s team continued to push and good pressing forced Evans to lose the ball and Bonne won the O’s another corner.
McAnuff swung the set-piece in and Elokobi managed to get to the ball first and divert it past Ward from close range via a back heel.
It was a wonderful goal and sparked jubilant scenes at Brisbane Road with the popular defender making his first league appearance since Sepember 9.
The pace of the game, predictably, slowed after Orient’s equaliser, although McAnuff saw another effort go wide in the 58th minute.
Koroma went into the book of referee Wright eight minutes later for kicking the ball away as the game entered the final 25 minutes.
The contest now resembled the 11th round of a boxing match between a pair of heavyweights, who had traded several blows and were now looking for the knock-out punch.
Aldershot took the initiative and with 16 minutes remaining they took the lead when McDonnell, who had come so close with his free kick effort, let fly from just outside the area and Brill couldn’t save his shot as the ball squirmed under his body.
Edinburgh reacted by introducing Harrold for Lawless with 10 minutes left and O’s went close soon after.
Another McAnuff corner caused problems and Elokobi and Coulson kept the ball alive before Harrold saw an effort saved.
Bonne had a shot blocked minutes later before Elokobi was replaced by Reynolds with 83 on the clock.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the 90 and there was still time for one last piece of play.
A long kick from Brill was flicked on by Harrold, but Holman could only blaze over and the full time whistle occurred almost straight away after.
Despite a very good performance from Orient, they are now only two points above the drop zone after Solihull Moors’ win at Dagenham & Redbridge.
The O’s do have a game in hand on the Birmingham-based outfit and will aim to make the most of it on Tuesday night at Halifax Town.
Leyton Orient: Brill; Caprice, Coulson, Happe, Elokobi (Reynolds 83); Dayton (Koroma 43), Lawless (Harrold 80), Clay, McAnuff; Holman, Bonne.
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Adams, Reynolds.
Aldershot Town: Ward; Alexander, Evans, Fowler, Kinsella; Oyeleke, McDonnell; Fenelon (McClure 86), Rowe (Gallagher 86), McQuoid (Kabamba 64); Rendell.
Unused substitutes: Cole,Taylor.
Attendance: 5,728 (1,204 Aldershot Town supporters).