Leyton Orient suffer opening-day National League defeat at Sutton United
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGS Photo
National League: Sutton United 2 Leyton Orient 0
Leyton Orient’s National League opener didn’t go to plan, as Sutton United handed them an opening-day defeat.
Jamie Collins and Dean Beckwith netted in the first half to give Steve Davis a losing start to life as O’s head coach.
The east Londoners struggled to create chances through at Gander Green Lane and were punished for lapses at the back.
As expected, Jake Caprice, Josh Coulson, George Elokobi and Joe Widdowson all made their competitive debuts for Orient and lined up in the back four in front of Charlie Grainger.
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James Dayton, Alex Lawless and Charlie Lee also started a league fixture for O’s for the first time, while Jobi McAnuff made his official return for the club.
David Mooney was up front alongside another debutant in Macauley Bonne, while Sam Sargeant, Rommy Boco, Michael Clark, Josh Koroma and Craig Clay were on the bench.
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Myles Judd, Jamie Sendles-White and Tristan Abrahams were left out of the squad despite making the initial 18.
National League rules state clubs can only select five players on the bench over the usual seven in the Football League.
There was a lot of excitement at Gander Green Lane, however, with several Orient supporters in attendance and the BT Sport cameras present.
Sutton were not going to be a walkover for O’s, with Paul Doswell including plenty of experience players in his starting XI.
U’s Captain Collins boasts a wealth of know-how, while Craig Eastmond and Nicky Bailey have a lot of previous in the Football League.
On the bench for Sutton was winger Josh Taylor, who started pre-season on trial at Orient before securing a contract with the south Londoners.
And then after months of lows and then highs, the new season got underway with the sun shining at Gander Green Lane.
It was an even start with the ball spending a lot of time in the air during the opening five minutes.
Davis’ team wasted a decent chance in the eighth minute when McAnuff over-hit a free kick from a good position.
Orient produced a decent move three minutes later when Lee picked out Dayton and his dangerous crossed was cleared behind for a corner.
McAnuff swung the delivery in, though Lee could only head over, as O’s settled into life in the National League.
But after 14 minutes that all changed as Sutton kept the ball alive in the middle of the park and it was knocked forward towards Craig Dundas.
Widdowson appeared to be in a good position, but was outmuscled by the U’s winger and fell over as a result, tripping Dundas in the process inside the penalty area.
Referee David Rock pointed to the spot immediately and Collins stepped up and sent Grainger the wrong way to score the first goal of the new season.
It was not the start Orient had wanted, but they responded positively with Mooney having a goal ruled out soon after.
The O’s began to dominate possession following the goal and delivered a number of balls into the area without really testing Sutton custodian Jamie Butler.
Orient almost got in more trouble in the 27th minute when Coulson intercepted a cross well, but then passed into Elokobi’s path.
The former Colchester United centre back was too relaxed on the ball and Dundas nipped in before Coulson cleared.
A slight moment of controversy occurred seconds later when Dayton tried to pick out Bonne, but Beckwith knocked the ball back to his goalkeeper Butler.
Referee Rock felt it was accidental, but Orient’s players called for a free kick to be awarded for a back pass.
It wasn’t forthcoming and O’s were asking more questions just before the half an hour mark when Dayton won a corner off Aswad Thomas.
Orient wanted a penalty, but all they got was a set-piece, which eventually came to nothing before the rain started to pour down.
Just as the heavens opened, Sutton made the most of an attack to double their lead at Gander Green Lane.
Ross Lafayette was given too much time out wide by Elokobi and his teasing cross saw Grainer failed to commit and Beckwith tapped in from close range.
After 34 minutes, O’s found themselves two down and with the weather deteriorating as hailstones started to fall in south London.
Caprice did well before the break, as he combined with Dayton, but his final ball failed to pick out a team-mate.
A McAnuff free kick then caused Sutton problems, though Elokobi could only head over from close range.
Two minutes of additional time were added on at the end of the first half, but they went by with little to note and at half time, Orient trailed Sutton by two goals.
The second period got underway with Davis and O’s desperate for a quick response, but it was the hosts who started more brightly.
Frustration was starting to boil over, as Bonne caught Butler late, although it still didn’t warrant the yellow card referee Rock showed the forward.
Orient were beginning to lose patience with passes going astray and anxiety starting to creep into the team.
Sutton, despite having a two-goal lead, were the side looking more likely to add a third, as McAnuff fouled Thomas just outside the area.
Good goalkeeping by Grainger saw the youngster punch away the influential Nicky Bailey’s free kick.
Lafayette fired wide moments later in the 64th minute, though Coulson was fuming with the referee for not spotting a push.
Davis made his first change with 21 minutes left, as Koroma was introduced in place of McAnuff.
Timing was running out for Orient with Sutton still looking a threat whenever they sent the ball direct down the middle.
Dayton had O’s first effort on target in the 73rd minute, but his low drive was easy for Sutton goalkeeper Butler.
Koroma got away down the right moments later following a Bonne flick and won the visitors a corner kick.
Unfortunately for Davis’ team, Dayton’s delivery was over-hit and another potential opening was wasted.
Bailey won Sutton a corner soon after, though Grainger did well to punch it clear and try to get Orient attacking again.
Clay made his debut for O’s with 10 minutes left, as captain Lee made way and Koroma and Dayton switched wings.
Another change was made moments later with Boco making his competitive Orient bow with Dayton being replaced.
Orient had another attempt on goal in the 86th minute, but Coulson headed Boco’s corner well over.
Four minutes of additional time were added on at the end of the 90 and O’s pushed for a small lifeline, but it wasn’t forthcoming.
It was a disappointing way for Orient to start the new campaign and they’ll look to hit back on Tuesday at home to Solihull Moors.
Sutton United: Butler; Spence, Beckwith, Collins, Thomas; Bailey (Wright 87); Dundas, Davis, Eastmond, Cadogan; Lafayette.
Unusued substitutes: John, Monakana, Emmanuel, Taylor.
Leyton Orient: Grainger; Caprice, Coulson, Elokobi, Widdowson; Dayton (Boco 84), Lawless, Lee (Clay 80), McAnuff (Koroma 69); Mooney, Bonne.
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Clark.