10-man Leyton Orient suffer final defeat of 2017 at home to Bromley, but can hold heads up high
- Credit: Archant
National League: Leyton Orient 0 Bromley 1
Leyton Orient ended 2017 with a National League defeat after losing 1-0 at home to Bromley, but again showed the characteristics needed if they are to make the New Year a memorable one.
Justin Edinburgh’s team had to play with 10-men for 86 minutes, yet produced a fine effort and dominated the second half.
Bromley failed to build on their 22nd minute opener and were almost made to pay, but O’s finishing let them down.
Nevertheless, there was plenty to be optimistic about as Orient ended a tumultuous 12 months, which saw relegation from the Football League and players and staff go weeks without pay under old owner Francesco Becchetti, with a performance to be proud of.
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The only change from the team which saw off Dagenham & Redbridge 2-0 on Boxing Day was Dan Happe dropping to the bench to be replaced by Bondz N’Gala.
N’Gala had rejoined the O’s on a month’s loan from Daggers on Wednesday and was straight back into the side.
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In the Bromley team, there were a number of players with links to Orient with David Gregory spending the second-half of the 2015/16 on loan at the Brisbane Road club.
Gregory started in goal and in front of him was centre back Ben Chorley, who spent four years at the O’s between 2009 and 2013.
Further up the pitch was Frankie Sutherland in the centre of midfield, who was with Orient in 2013 on loan from Queens Park Rangers, but only made one appearance before suffering anterior cruciate ligament damage.
Meanwhile in attack was George Porter. He was with the O’s during the same time as Chorley, but left in 2012 after turning down a new contract to sign for Burnley – just two-years after signing for the east Londoners from non-league Cray Wanderers.
All four were part of the Bromley team which thrashed Orient 6-1 on August 15 and revenge was on the minds of the home players.
The first shot of note went to the visitors as Adam Mekki attacked on the left and cut inside Jake Caprice too easily, but Dean Brill saved his curler effort without any fuss with two minutes played.
Two minutes later and the first moment of controversy arrived and it would prove to be costly for Orient.
Joe Widdowson attempted to pass the ball back to Brill, but didn’t get anywhere near enough pace on it and Porter nipped in.
N’Gala looked to get back at the Bromley attacker, yet appeared to clip his legs around 22-yards-out and the former Orient wide-man went down and referee David Rock had a decision to make.
With the linesmen waving his flag in the air, the decision had virtually been made and N’Gala was shown a straight red card.
After only four minutes, the hosts were down to 10-men and facing a massive uphill task to take anything from the game.
Fortunately for the O’s the resulting free kick from Louis Dennis was curled straight into the hands of Brill and moments later Orient made a change.
Happe came on for the unlucky David Mooney in the eighth minute and the home side set up in a 4-4-1 formation.
Predictably Bromley dominated the opening 20 minutes, but Orient stood firm and snuffed out any danger.
The O’s then had a rare foray forward when Macauley Bonne nodded down for James Dayton and eventually the ball was worked out to Caprice, but his cross was cleared.
Soon after Bromley attacked again and this time they made Edinburgh’s men pay with 22 minutes played.
Josh Rees controlled the ball midway into Orient’s half and slide a pass into Dennis’ path and he stroked past Brill with confidence to open the scoring.
If O’s were going to get anything from this match, they really need to hold out longer than the 22nd minute.
Nevertheless, the home side looked to somehow find a way back into the game and changed formation to a 4-3-2 with Dayton up front with Bonne.
Bromley produced a nice move on the half an hour mark when Mekki turned away from McAnuff and Clay before the ball was worked out to Luke Wanadio, but his centre was cleared by Happe.
Orient were not giving up though and won a free kick in a dangerous position in the 33rd minute when Sutherland, who had recently been booked, brought down Dayton.
Dayton picked himself up and whipped in a stunning delivery which Josh Coulson headed against the post before Bromley cleared.
The O’s had come within a whisker of equalising and it lifted the crowd with Jobi McAnuff producing another cross moments later.
Bromley responded with Dennis firing straight at Brill before drilling another effort wide of the goal.
There were definitely encouraging signs for Orient though, with the Ravens dropping their intensity as the first half drew to a close.
O’s went close on the stroke of half time when McAnuff and Dayton combined on the edge and the former saw a shot deflected over.
McAnuff went across to take the resulting corner and it was a good one as Coulson was picked out again, but his looping header was cleared off the line by Luke Woolfenden.
Orient were getting closer and from the next set-piece the ball was cleared to Dayton on the edge, but he could only drilled over.
The half time whistle followed soon after following the end of two minutes of additional time and predictably there were boos for referee Rock and his assistants.
After finishing the first period strongly, O’s were looking to pick up where they left off after the restart.
And they did just that and won a free kick in a dangerous position in the 51st minute when Jack Holland was penalised for a high challenge on Dayton.
McAnuff took the free kick, which was 25-yards-out, and it clipped the wall and went away for another corner.
Orient’s stand-in captain McAnuff went over to take and produced another fine ball, which Coulson attacked and with Gregory beaten, Sutherland managed to get back to clear before Alex Lawless struck over from range with 53 minutes played.
It was another opportunity gone for O’s, but Bromley were looking so suspect from set-pieces more chances appeared on the horizon.
For a side playing against 10-men, Neil Smith’s Ravens were not showing enough ambition and Orient’s confidence was growing.
Edinburgh made another chance soon after and McAnuff came off after a superb run near the corner flag won O’s a free kick.
Matt Harrold replaced the stand-in skipper straight after with 63 on the clock and the armband was handed to the impressive Lawless.
Orient were unable to make the most of the set-piece opportunity, but continued to push for an equaliser.
A poor clearance by Holland gave Dayton the ball in the area and he found Craig Clay, but his shot was smashed away from goal by Chorley in the 66th minute.
Frustration was starting to get the better of Bromley with Porter and Chorley both showing their annoyance before Gregory was booked for time wasting.
Nerves were starting to show and it all added to the growing optimism at Brisbane Road that O’s could get something from the game.
The Orient fans let former player Porter know what they thought of him when he was replaced in the 73rd minute by Brett Williams.
And the buzz inside the stadium continued to grow with Edinburgh urging his players on.
O’s produced a fine move in the 74th minute when Bonne and Harrold linked up well and Clay’s cross was cleared out to Lawless. He controlled and curled towards the top corner, but Gregory pushed his shot wide.
It was another near-miss for Orient and from the resulting corner, Dayton picked out Clay at the back post, but he could only head over on the stretch.
Bromley made another change with 11 minutes left and it was a defensive one with Frankie Raymond, formerly of Dagenham, replacing the more attacking-minded Wanadio.
The O’s continued to press as the game entered its final 10 minutes and Orient really should have levelled in the 81st minute.
Clay curled the ball in and Bonne, unmarked, headed over from six-yards with only Gregory to beat.
It was a fantastic opportunity and it had been wasted, yet it didn’t knock Edinburgh’s team off their stride.
With 85 on the clock, more excellent work by Lawless won the ball back and it came to Dayton, but he volleyed wide.
Orient were then given a let-off when Gregory’s long clearance was misjudged by Happe and Williams got in, though he could only hook over.
Four minutes were added on at the end of the 90 and O’s went close when Harrold’s cross found Bonne and he knocked down for Clay, but he could only fire over.
It seemed like being Orient’s final opportunity, but one more was to arrive and it fell to their top goalscorer.
Caprice was picked out in space on the right and crossed into the six-yard area and Gregory pushed out to Bonne, yet he could only shoot over and the full time whistle soon followed.
Orient had ended 2017 with a defeat, but could be proud of their effort and again demonstrated why the New Year will bring new hope to everyone associated with the O’s.
Edinburgh’s men will look to bounce back on Monday when they make the short trip to local rivals Dagenham.
Leyton Orient: Brill; Caprice, N’Gala, Coulson, Widdowson; McAnuff (Harrold 63), Lawless, Clay, Dayton; Mooney (Happe 8), Bonne.
Unused substitutes: Grainger, Sendles-White, Koroma.
Bromley: Gregory; Woolfenden, Holland, Chorley, Sterling; Mekki (Higgs 54), Rees, Sutherland, Wanadio (Raymond 79); Dennis, Porter (Williams 73).
Unused substitutes: Johnson, Vose.
Attendance: 5,227 (322 Bromley supporters).