Simpson scores late on to rescue a point for Orient
16:56 02 January 2016
Simon O'Connor Photography
Sky Bet League Two: Stevenage 2 Leyton Orient 2
Leyton Orient salvaged a point late on against Stevenage after Jay Simpson scored deep into injury time to earn a 2-2 draw.
Simpson put the visitors ahead early in the second half, but Boro substitute Armand Gnanduillet scored twice to turn the match on its head.
But Simpson popped up again to score his second and 20th overall of the campaign and earn a point for Ian Hendon’s side.
Orient made one change from the side defeated 2-1 at Bristol Rovers on Bank Holiday Monday.
Defender Jean-Yves M’voto missed out with a groin injury and was replaced by Frazer Shaw, who slotted in at left-back.
That meant Connor Essam and Cole Kpekawa partnered each other in the heart of the O’s back four.
On the bench for the east Londoners was new signing Calaum Jahraldo-Martin, who joined from Hull City this morning, and academy graduate Aron Pollock.
Pollock is a defender, who has impressed of late and joined fellow youngsters Charlie Grainger, Freddy Moncur and Scott Kashket on the substitute’s bench.
Hendon was without the likes of Mathieu Baudry, M’voto, Sammy Moore, Lloyd James, Paul McCallum and Dean Cox, but still would have expected his team to get back to winning ways against Stevenage.
Orient got proceedings underway at Broadhall Way in wet and windy conditions in Hertfordshire.
They immediately controlled possession well and Bradley Pritchard won a free kick inside the opening minute after Connor Ogilvie pulled him down.
It did seem like the Zimbabwean was fouled inside the area, but referee Darren Deaman awarded a free kick.
Jobi McAnuff took the free kick and looked to find Ollie Palmer at the back post, but his cross sailed out for a goal kick.
Hendon’s men had started brightly against the Boro and in the 11th minute Blair Turgott latched onto a poor pass by Ogilvie.
The former West Ham winger ran into the hosts penalty area, picked out Palmer, but his touch let him down and the chance was gone.
Turgott was involved again two minutes later, running at the Stevenage back four before linking up with Jay Simpson.
He passed out to McAnuff afterwards and the Jamaican international crossed into the box where Turgott got on the end of his centre, but Chris Day easily saved his effort.
Although the O’s were enjoying lots of the ball, Stevenage looked a potential threat from corners and had won three inside the opening quarter of an hour.
But the east Londoners were defending them well and looked comfortable during the opening exchanges at Broadhall Way.
Turgott was having a big influence so far and in the 20th minute flashed an effort past the post after Palmer’s knock down.
A minute later and a Ronnie Henry cross was met by the head of Jamille Matt, but it went well wide of Alex Cisak’s goal.
Teddy Sheringham’s host had another opening moments later after some confusion in the Orient defence, but McAnuff made an important block from Matt’s goalbound shot.
Kpekawa went close with a free kick in the 25th minute, his effort going over the wall, but just failed to hit the target.
Seven minutes later and the best chance of the game occurred for the home side following a mistake.
Kpekawa could only slice his clearance and Matt ran through on goal, but his low drilled effort was excellently saved by Cisak.
A minute later and Orient created their best opportunity of the match as Turgott’s shot was spilled by Day.
Simpson latched onto the rebound, composed himself before making space and firing towards goal.
His effort flew past Day, but Henry was back on the line to somehow clear and ensure the O’s didn’t take the lead.
Hendon’s men were pressing now and McAnuff cut inside and fired wide of the post in the 38th minute.
A minute later and he was involved again, collecting Pritchard’s pass and turning around 25-yards-out.
Once again, however, his effort failed to test Day as it flew over the crossbar and it remained goalless at Broadhall Way.
Chances were few and far between after that and despite a minute of stoppage time being added on, it finished goalless at the break.
Stevenage got the second period underway and Henry had an early effort that went way over the crossbar.
In the 54th minute a mistake by Kpekawa nearly allowed the hosts to take the lead as his poor back pass put Cisak in trouble, but the Australian managed to slide out and tackle Matt.
Five minutes later and the O’s broke forward at pace with McAnuff beating two players before laying the ball off to Simpson.
League Two’s top goalscorer let fly from outside the area and his shot hit the hand of Stevenage’s Fraser Franks.
Referee Deadman pointed to the spot straight away and gave Orient the chance to take the lead at Broadhall Way.
Simpson duly obliged, sending Day the wrong way and scoring his 19th goal of the campaign in the process.
Hendon’s men led with an hour played, but Stevenage immediately looked to respond and went close when Jamie McCombe headed wide from a corner.
Orient created the next chance when Turgott and Sean Clohessy linked up well on the right before Turgott’s ball across the face of the Stevenage goal was cleared.
The O’s really should have had somebody on the end of the cross and in the 74th minute they were punished.
Tom Pett did well on the right and his centre was powerfully headed in by substitute Gnanduillet.
Jahraldo-Martin was introduced three minutes later, replacing Turgott, and making his debut out on the left.
But two minutes later and Stevenage took the lead when Ben Kennedy’s chipped through ball ran through to Gnanduillet and he fired past Cisak.
Hendon responded by bringing John Marquis off the bench, coming on for McAnuff with 10 minutes remaining at Broadhall Way.
Orient’s two substitutes linked up well five minutes from time when Jahraldo-Martin crossed in for Marquis, but his header was all wrong and didn’t even go out for a goal kick.
Clohessy beat his man moments later, but his cross was blocked as the O’s desperately looked to get back on level terms.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added on and in the second minute they managed to equalise.
Pritchard passed into Palmer and he managed to work the ball to Simpson, who smashed into the top corner to spark jubilant scenes.
Orient’s top goalscorer had smashed in his 20th of the season to rescue a point, although Hendon’s men had chances to grab a winner after.
The last play of the match saw the ball drop to Palmer in the box, but his shot was saved and the full time whistle was blown.
Some of the away fans chanted ‘Hendon out!’ afterwards as it was another game where the O’s could have taken all three points.
They don’t play again now until January 16 when Exeter City make the trip to Brisbane Road.
Stevenage: Day, Henry, McCombe, Franks, Ogilvie, Lee, Tonge, Gordon (Kennedy 61), Pett, Matt, McFadzean (Gnanduillet 64).
Unused substitutes: Crowe, Hughes, Johnson, Conlon, Gorman.
Leyton Orient: Cisak, Clohessy, Essam, Kpekawa, Shaw, Turgott (Jahraldo-Martin 77), Payne, Pritchard, McAnuff (Marquis 80), Palmer, Simpson.
Unused substitutes: Grainger, Dunne, Kashket, Moncur, Pollock.