Life under Justin Edinburgh begins with another National League defeat with Solihull Moors seeing off Leyton Orient 1-0
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National League: Solihull Moors 1 Leyton Orient 0
Life under Justin Edinburgh started on a low note for Leyton Orient after they suffered another defeat in the National League – this time away to fellow relegation rivals Solihull Moors.
Liam Daly scored the only goal of the game for the hosts in the second half, but in all truth it could have been a lot more than 1-0 to the Midlands side.
Orient, for the second weekend in a row, were second-best and their wait for a win in the division stretches on with their supporters not seeing a league victory since September 2 now.
Edinburgh made four changes to the O’s team which lost 3-0 at Torquay United last weekend with one decision in particular proving a major talking point.
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Charlie Grainger was dropped to the bench, but it wasn’t fellow youngster Sam Sargeant who went in goal. Instead, it was Dean Brill.
Brill, Orient’s goalkeeper coach, signed playing forms earlier in the campaign and came in to make his first competitive appearance since April 2015.
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With Jake Caprice suspended, Myles Judd returned to the team alongside Henry Ochieng and Macauley Bonne with Zain Westbrooke on the bench and Josh Koroma not part of the squad.
It was a bold first selection by the new O’s head coach, but one that added to the bubbling enthusiasm building before kick-off.
The opening 10 minutes offered some encouraging signs with stand-in captain McAnuff delivering a couple of dangerous balls into the area.
From one of them, an unmarked Matt Harrold headed wide from around 12-yards when he should have perhaps done better.
The big forward then did well on the right before picking out James Dayton, but his effort was blocked.
Solihull got on top after those opening exchanges and came so close to taking the lead in the 13th minute.
James Bowen crossed in and Jermaine Hylton headed against the crossbar with Brill beaten before Joe Widdowson brilliantly denied Jamey Osborne with a block.
It was the start of a ding-dong battle between Orient’s left-back and his opposite number on the right-hand side.
Seconds later Osborne was played in again, but Widdowson slide in to thwart the danger in the 14th minute.
A mistake by Brill in the 17th minute saw Moors have another chance when he dropped a free kick and Fiacre Kelleher had an effort blocked.
The dangerous Oladapo Afolayan was next to get in, but Jobi McAnuff helped out Judd and forced a corner.
Another great opportunity occurred in the 22nd minute when Bowen picked out Osborne at the back post, but Brill saved well.
A crunching tackle from Widdowson on Liam Daly appeared to turn the tide for the struggling visitors.
Orient nearly created a chance just before the half time when McAnuff blocked a clearance and Bonne almost got in, but Kelleher got back well to clear.
Dayton then quickly threw the ball into Bonne’s path, but was penalised for a foul throw much to Edinburgh’s frustration.
Osborne headed into the arms of Brill with 31 on the clock before O’s slowly began to create chances.
Dayton forced Max O’Leary into a good save four minutes later with a flying volley after Harrold’s knock down.
Craig Clay had an effort deflected wide soon after following McAnuff’s centre, but the resulting corner came to nothing.
McAnuff then let fly from the edge of the area before the half time whistle signalled to end a poor first 45 for O’s.
Orient would have been looking to make a strong start after the interval, but Hylton played through Afolayan and Brill had to come out fast to deny the forward.
Another chance occurred in the 48th minute when Osborne had a shot blocked by Widdowson before he teed up Afolayan again, but he fired tamely at the O’s custodian.
Edinburgh was much happier three minutes later when McAnuff cut inside and saw an effort deflected wide.
Unfortunately it wasn’t the start of things to come as the breakthrough was made in the 59th minute.
Bondz N’Gala gave away a needless foul near the touchline when he shoved Kwame Thomas to the floor.
Moors captain Darren Carter, formerly of Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion, crossed into the back post where Daly headed in from close range.
Orient’s head coach reacted seven minutes later by introducing David Mooney with Harrold making way.
After it didn’t have the desired effect, Edinburgh called for Sam Dalby with 17 minutes left at Damson Park.
The youngster was introduced for fellow academy graduate Ochieng, who had a poor game, and O’s switched to a diamond formation in midfield.
Orient’s cause wasn’t helped by a stoppage in the 76th minute when Widdowson suffered a head injury and needed treatment.
He was eventually able to resume and the rain began to pour in Solihull with O’s in desperate need of an equaliser.
An outstanding tackle from Judd prevented Thomas from sealing the game for the hosts in the 80th minute.
Good play from Widdowson three minutes later forced a corner, but Bonne had a shot blocked by Carter inside the area.
It was end-to-end now and Thomas came close to scoring again in the 85th minute, but Brill got down low to deny him.
The next opportunity fell to McAnuff, after Bonne had teed him up, but he could only lash over from 25-yards.
On the stroke of full time, that same duo were involved again, but Bonne’s shot was tame and O’Leary saved with ease from close range.
More drama was to come in the four minute of additional time when Solihull were awarded a penalty.
Paul Green went down under the challenge of Bonne and the forward picked up a yellow for his troubles.
Fortunately for O’s, Carter could only hit the post, but it didn’t prevent them going down 1-0 at Damson Park.
It was another bitterly disappointing afternoon for the east Londoners and their loyal supporters and only goes to highlight the current plight they find themselves in.
McAnuff went over to apologise to the fans at the end, but ended up getting involved in a war of words with a supporter.
Eventually it ended, but what can’t be forgotten is the shocking display the O’s had put in during what was suppose to be the start of a new era.
Orient and Edinburgh will look for a response at home to Sutton United, but it will certainly not be easy.
Solihull Moors: O’Leary; Atkinson, Daly, Kelleher, Bowen; P.Green, Carter; Afolayan (Asante 80), Hylton, Osborne (Murombedzi 87); Thomas.
Unused substitutes: K.Green, St.Ledger, Carline.
Leyton Orient: Brill; Judd, N’Gala, Happe, Widdowson; McAnuff, Ochieng (Dalby 73), Clay, Dayton; Harrold (Mooney 66), Bonne.
Unused substitutes: Grainger, Pollock, Westbrooke.
Attendance: 1,118 (533 Leyton Orient supporters).