Super-sub Rommy Boco salvages Leyton Orient deserved point at Aldershot Town
PUBLISHED: 17:07 23 September 2017 | UPDATED: 17:07 23 September 2017
Simon O'Connor Photography
National League: Aldershot Town 2 Leyton Orient 2
Substitute Rommy Boco netted a late equaliser for Leyton Orient to give them a deserved point away to Aldershot Town.
The Shots went two goals ahead early on at the Recreation Ground and looked set to coast to another National League victory.
But Steve Davis’ team showed a tremendous amount of character and thanks to Craig Clay and Boco, came away with a 2-2 draw.
Charlie Grainger also made a couple of outstanding saves to cap a good afternoon for O’s despite a terrible start in Hampshire.
This meeting at the Recreation Ground was the first between the two clubs since the Shots reformed in 1992 after Aldershot FC were wound up in the High Court.
O’s last played the Hampshire-based team in their previous form back in 1989, though the last league battle occurred in 1987.
Despite the clubs both appearing in League Two recently, this was now a National League contest and they both needed the points for differing reasons.
Orient, after their third consecutive defeat, made three changes to the team which lost 2-1 at home to Hartlepool United last weekend.
David Mooney missed out with a shoulder injury, while Josh Koroma dropped out of the squad and Dan Happe had to settle for a place on the bench.
Coming in for the aforementioned trio were debutant James Brophy, after signing on loan from Swindon Town on Thursday, James Dayton and Josh Coulson.
The east Londoners had missed the presence of Dayton and Coulson in recent losses at Brisbane Road to Hartlepool and Halifax Town.
Meanwhile the addition of Brophy on the left, allowed Davis to try Jobi McAnuff off lone striker Macauley Bonne.
O’s were wearing their brand new third kit for the first time and got the game underway with the sun shining in Hampshire.
Straight away the partnership of Bonne and McAnuff worked to good effect with the latter playing in Dayton, but the winger had made his run too early and was offside.
Aldershot responded instantly when Craig Clay fouled Cheye Alexander on the right and it gave the hosts a chance to swing the ball into the Orient area.
Grainger punched clear Adam McDonnell’s free kick and O’s had passed their first set-piece test, which felt significant after their troubles against the Pools.
The end-to-end start continued with both sides getting forward quickly, but the offside flag prevented any real progress for either team.
Aldershot were looking confident, which was no surprise given they were top, and in the ninth minute they took the lead.
Jim Kellermann looked to find a team-mate and was lucky to see his pass deflect into the path of right-back Alexander and the defender, under little pressure, drilled in from the edge of the area.
It was a stunning strike, but Orient would have been disappointed to see the full-back have so much time, especially so close to the O’s goal.
Having made a fairly bright start, Davis’ team found themselves behind and now facing the prospect of a fourth consecutive defeat.
Gary Waddock’s side looked to build on their opener and went close again with quarter of an hour played.
A McDonnell corner to the back post found ex-Dagenham & Redbridge forward Matt McClure and he headed wide from a tight angle.
The biggest worry for the O’s was the fact the striker was unmarked inside the penalty area and that was something they were going to have to improve going forward.
Things went from bad to worse for Orient with 21 minutes on the clock when a simple long ball forward was terribly defender by Sendles-White.
McClure was the target of a forward pass, but the O’s centre back appeared to have it all under control.
Sendles-White got his body in a terrible position though, and was easily outmuscled by McClure and it left the Shots forward in on goal.
With the ex-Swindon Town defender on the floor complaining, McClure controlled and smashed past Grainger from inside the area and doubled the hosts lead.
Despite more remonstrations from Sendles-White, the only person he could blame was himself and O’s were left with an uphill battle.
Aldershot wouldn’t ease off despite their two-goal lead and looked for more against an Orient side looking sluggish and slow.
The excellent Manny Oyeleke won the Shots a free kick in a dangerous position soon after, but James Rowe could only curl into the side-netting.
Waddock’s team went close again 10 minutes before the break when Kellermann picked out Rowe at the back post and his low header was brilliantly pushed wide by Grainger.
It was an excellent save by the young goalkeeper and O’s then had to survive a huge goalmouth scramble from the following corner.
After those hairy moments, Orient finally got on the front foot and produced a neat move in the 38th minute.
Bonne controlled a forward pass and quickly found McAnuff on the left, and the winger looked up before crossing in for Clay, but his low header was saved by Jake Cole.
It was much better by O’s and from the resulting corner, Dayton was fouled on the right by Rowe and it gave the visitors a free kick in a dangerous position.
McAnuff stood over it and Shots boss Waddock tried to get the message across to his team that Clay was unmarked at the back post.
It didn’t ring alarm bells for Aldershot, but should have, as Orient’s number seven found Clay at the back post and he headed in to halve the deficit.
With six minutes of the first-half remaining, O’s had been handed a huge lifeline and arguably against the run of play.
Davis’ team appeared full of confidence now and should have equalised in one minute of stoppage time.
Bonne did well to win a free kick in a dangerous position on the left and McAnuff again stood over it.
The former Jamaican international swung in a sensational cross, which Coulson failed to connect with, and the delivery smashed against the post.
It rebounded up into the air and Bonne looked to head in the rebound, but Cole saved bravely and the chance went.
Referee David Rock ended the first half straight after and O’s, despite being under the cosh for most of it, came in just one goal behind.
Orient started strongly after the interval and Clay won the ball deep inside the Shots half and played in Brophy, but his cross was poor and a good chance had been wasted.
McAnuff was involved again moments later in the 49th minute and put Brophy in down the left again, yet he couldn’t pick out Bonne.
The visitors were piling the pressure on and another free kick caused Aldershot some problems, but the hosts managed to survive and keep hold of their lead.
Stand-in captain Alex Lawless was urging his team forward and dictating play now with Clay snapping into challenges.
It contributed towards Orient looking a different side and they went close again in the 58th minute.
O’s moved the ball from left to right and Jake Caprice squared up his marker before cutting back for Dayton, but he curled wide from just outside the area.
You could feel the tension starting to fill into the Aldershot supporters, as every misplaced pass was now greeted with groans and not supporting clapping.
The momentum Orient had appeared to go slightly, as the game approached the 65th minute mark.
Aldershot went close in the 69th minute McDonnell was given too much time and forced Grainger into an excellent diving save.
Davis reacted to O’s slightly losing their grip on the match by introducing Boco for Dayton with 18 minutes left.
The summer signing, who had disappointed during the defeat to Halifax, lined up behind Bonne with McAnuff moving out to the right.
Orient got back on the front foot after the substitution and produced a neat move in the 77th minute, though it ended with Caprice losing the ball.
Shots countered brilliantly and Alexander picked out Kellermann at the back post and unmarked, but he headed over with only Grainger to beat.
It felt like a big moment in the game and O’s were now hoping it would potentially cost the hosts.
Davis’ team kept on pushing and in the 82nd minute they got their reward, although due to a slice of luck.
A long ball forward caused problems for Aldershot with Bonne in the mix of it and the ball run for Boco and he fired in with Cole’s goal empty.
It sparked big celebrations from the travelling support and the Orient players and the visitors scented blood now.
Happe came on for Coulson after the equaliser with the Cambridge United loanee going off after battling through despite struggling with an injury in the second half.
Orient had more chances after their leveller with Bonne having a shot deflected after more good play by McAnuff.
From the resulting corner, Clay met McAnuff’s delivery and saw a header cleared off the line by Alexander.
It was the final noteworthy chance of the match before the full time whistle eventually occurred at the Recreation Ground.
O’s certainly would have taken that result after a dismal opening 39 minutes, but they were excellent once Clay pulled a goal back.
Davis’ team, despite a plethora of injuries, showed their mettle by coming back to take a point at the divisions leaders.
The east Londoners could even have won it, but they’ll hope this is a big moment in their season.
Orient remain 13th and host AFC Flyde next Saturday looking to return to winning ways at Brisbane Road.
Aldershot Town: Cole; Alexander, Fowler, Reynolds, Arthur; Oyeleke (Robert 79); McDonnell, Gallagher; Kellermann, McClure (Rendell 70), Rowe.
Unused substitutes: Okojie, Lyons-Foster, Smith.
Leyton Orient: Grainger; Caprice, Coulson (Happe 83), Sendles-White, Widdowson; Lawless, Clay; Dayton (Boco 72), McAnuff, Brophy; Bonne.
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Ochieng, Dalby.
Attendance: 3,060 (566 Leyton Orient supporters).