Nolan’s Orient fail Cambridge exam
16:57 30 January 2016
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Sky Bet League Two: Leyton Orient 1 Cambridge United 3
Kevin Nolan’s perfect start to life as Leyton Orient player-manager was ended by Cambridge United at Brisbane Road.
The visitors took all three points after punishing poor defending by the east Londoners in front of their best home crowd of the season.
Armand Gnanduillet did pull one back for the hosts, his first for the club, to make it 2-1, but another error allowed the U’s to travel back up the M11 happy.
Nolan named an unchanged team for the third consecutive match but did make altercations to his substitute’s bench.
Shaun Brisley, a recent loan signing from Peterborough United, was included among the replacements instead of youngster Aron Pollock.
Also returning was Sammy Moore after missing out on Tuesday night, he took Scott Kashket’s position on the bench.
Former Orient ace Elliot Omozusi was a substitute for the U’s as was Robbie Simpson, who spent time with the east Londoners during the 2013/14 campaign.
It was cold and windy at Brisbane Road, but with positivity seemingly coming back to the club a big crowd of 6,526 was in attendance.
The O’s made a strong start and Jobi McAnuff and Frazer Shaw linked up nicely in the second minute.
Shaw’s cross into the penalty area was a good one, but Ollie Palmer had two efforts blocked before Cambridge cleared.
It turned very scrappy afterwards and not much of note was happening until 10 minutes had been played in east London.
Firstly Shaw allowed a high ball to bounce before, without looking, passed back to goalkeeper Alex Cisak.
Ben Williamson has anticipated the back pass, though, and nipped in ahead of the Orient goalkeeper, composed himself before slotting into the net.
Nolan would not have been happy about the first goal conceded under his reign and it gave the hosts an uphill battle.
The U’s were full of confidence now and a dangerous Lewis Page delivered was dealt with well by Shaw before the resulting corner was headed over.
Nerves were getting the better of the hosts as Connor Essam was robbed of the ball just outside his own penalty area and Shaun Derry’s men won another set piece.
It was cleared, however, and the east Londoners broke before the ball was worked back to Shaw and Leon Legge made an excellent clearance from his delivery.
McAnuff swung the corner into the box and Mathieu Baudry met his centre, but could only head over with 19 gone at Brisbane Road.
Orient, despite going a goal down early on, were responding well and getting more possession now.
They peppered the Cambridge goal on a couple of occasions, but couldn’t test away custodian Will Norris before the half an hour mark.
Nolan’s side were getting the ball in some decent positions, but struggling to break down the U’s defence with Leon Legge winning two crucial headers from dangerous Sean Clohessy deliveries.
It remained that way until half time as, despite a minute of stoppage time being added on, the O’s couldn’t test Norris and came in at the break behind.
The only shot on target in the first half was Williamson’s opener as the east Londoners were largely frustrated by the visitors.
Orient started the second period brightly as first Jay Simpson had a volley blocked before another threatening Clohessy centre was cleared.
But eight minutes after the interval and Cambridge doubled their advantage after more poor defending by the hosts.
Williamson beat Essam too easily and rifled past Cisak from inside the penalty area to make it 2-0.
Gnanduillet was introduced straight away, although he was being prepared to come on before the goal.
The substitute had an instant impact and scored his first for the Brisbane Road outfit just four minutes after coming on.
He flicked on McAnuff’s corner and Simpson had a shot blocked on the goalline before the away side made a hash of trying to clear the ball.
Nigel Atangana tried to flick it in from close range before Gnanduillet showed good composure to poke into the corner.
Blair Turgott came on following the goal after a lengthy chat with goalkeeper coach Lee Harrison and Jack Payne fired over on the volley just past the hour mark.
It was all Orient at this point but another mistake at the back would prove costly in the 63rd minute.
Williamson tried to get past Essam, the defender seemed to have the situation under control, but thought goalkeeper Cisak was coming out to collect the ball.
He wasn’t, because it wasn’t close enough, and Williamson picked up the ball and squared for Jimmy Spencer to score just two minutes after his introduction.
And it could have been 4-1 in the 66th minute when Harrison Dunk picked out Luke Berry from a corner, but the Cambridge man volley wide.
Nolan brought himself on a minute later and Gnanduillet soon went close again, but James Dunne made a brilliant block.
With just 20 minutes remaining at Brisbane Road, the hosts had their work cut out to try and get something from the game.
Unfortunately no matter how hard the O’s tried they couldn’t break the visitors defence down.
Turgott had an effort on goal a minute from time after twisting and turning outside the area, but Norris saved well.
Five minutes of stoppage time were added on but Orient’s hopes of taking any reward from the encounter had long gone.
The O’s player-manager did have a great chance to reduce the arrears late on, but slotted wide when well placed and the full time whistle followed shortly.
After such a bright start under their new manager, the bad defending that cost Ian Hendon his job crept back into their play against Cambridge.
The defeat leaves the O’s ninth in the table, but only a point off the play-off ahead of facing Portsmouth next weekend.
Leyton Orient: Cisak, Clohessy, Baudry, Essam, Shaw, Jahraldo-Martin (Turgott 58), Payne (Nolan 67), Atangana, McAnuff, Palmer (Gnanduillet 53), Simpson.
Unused substitutes: Grainger, Moore, Brisley, Pritchard.
Cambridge United: Norris, Page, Coulson, Legge, Furlong, Dunk, Dunne (Simpson 82), Donaldson (Spencer 61), Berry, Williamson.
Unused substitutes: Beasant, Omozusi, Roberts, Ahearne-Grant, Horne.
Attendance: 6,526 (1,237 Cambridge United supporters).