Losing start to 2017 for Leyton Orient

Leyton Orient manager Andy Edwards looks on (pic Simon O'Connor)

Leyton Orient manager Andy Edwards looks on (pic Simon O'Connor) - Credit: Archant

Sky Bet League Two: Exeter City 4 Leyton Orient 0

Leyton Orient were brought crashing back down to earth in League Two with a 4-0 defeat at Exeter City in their first match of 2017.

Fresh from beating Crawley Town and drawing with Cambridge United, Andy Edwards and his team travelled to Devon with confidence.

But the Grecians were a class apart throughout and maintained their impressive record against Orient with another win.

The O’s were forced to make three changes to the team which started against Cambridge United on New Year’s Eve.

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Sam Dalby, Sandro Semedo and Teddy Mezague all missed out through injury with Ollie Palmer, Callum Kennedy and Yvan Erichot starting.

It was Kennedy’s first appearance since suffering a groin problem at Wycombe Wanderers on December 17 as Edwards included youngsters Aron Pollock, Henry Ochieng and Victor Adeboyejo among the replacements.

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Lloyd James started for Exeter against his old club while Robbie Simpson and Jake Taylor were among the substitutes.

The sun was shining in Devon and it looked like causing home custodian Christy Pym problems in the first half.

It took Orient less than two minutes to test Exeter’s goalkeeper when Palmer linked up nicely with Paul McCallum.

The play spread wide to the right where Myles Judd combined with Gavin Massey before the latter crossed in.

Palmer headed towards goal, yet Pym saved and the Grecians went straight down the other end and tested Alex Cisak for the first time through Reuben Reid.

It didn’t take long for Exeter to forge another attack and this one proved costly for the visitors as Erichot failed to deal with the first ball into the box and the hosts kept it alive before Nicky Hunt switched off and David Wheeler ghosted in to flick past Cisak from close range.

It wasn’t the start Orient wanted, but Edwards’ team, as they had on New Year’s Eve, responded positively.

Three minutes later and Massey got in down the right again and found McCallum in the middle, but nobody could get on the end of his knockdown across goal.

Ollie Watkins, fresh from his hat-trick against Newport County two days earlier, was soon to show off his talent as Exeter’s talented forward fired wide after combining with Reid before being played through on goal.

Cisak stood up to the challenge of Watkins and produced a fine save in the 14th minute to ensure it remained 1-0.

The Grecians were playing with a lot of confidence and Orient’s goalkeeper had to come off his line to tackle Reid soon after.

Exeter kept the ball well and James threaded a fine pass into Watkins, who fired into the corner, but fortunately for O’s he was adjudged to be offside.

It seemed the O’s had weathered the storm approaching the half-hour mark, before Paul Tisdale’s team threatened again.

Watkins caused Orient’s back four more problems and smashed an effort against the post in the 28th minute. The rebound hit Tom Parkes and was looping into the net, before the defender headed off the line and Edwards’ team survived.

Exeter’s director of football Steve Perryman was doing his best to fire up the hosts from the stand by shouting out instructions and praise.

It was one-way traffic for much of the first half with the hosts dominating possession and looking dangerous.

Orient were looking off the pace, yet they created the next chance in the 42nd minute when Massey got in on the left and raced into the area, only to fire wide with the outside of his boot.

A minute of stoppage time was added on and fortunately for O’s it was remained 1-0 to Exeter at the break.

The first action of the second half saw Watkins and Parkes come together in the area, but referee Michael Salisbury correctly waved play on.

Orient enjoyed a short spell of pressure after, which ended with Pym claiming a long throw from McCallum. But then the decisive second goal of the match arrived and predictably it went to the home side.

Wheeler produced an excellent centre and Ryan Harley peeled off Judd too easily and tapped past Cisak in the 50th minute.

Edwards made a change nine minutes later with O’s struggling to threaten as Josh Koroma replaced Kennedy.

A long throw from McCallum caused problems in the Exeter penalty area and the loose ball dropped for Atangana, but he smashed way over in the 62nd minute.

The Grecians introduced Liam McAlinden straight after and the substitute had an immediate impact.

McAlinden, who shone at Brisbane Road on November 22, played in Watkins and Parkes brought the forward down just inside the area.

Referee Salisbury pointed to the spot and, after some protests from the visitors, Harley fired into the corner to make it 3-0.

Edwards was getting visibly frustrated on the sidelines, but a nice move between Judd and Massey put the former Colchester United winger in behind the home defence.

Massey’s centre was cleared for a corner and from the resulting set-piece, the O’s attacker volleyed over.

Koroma showed his ability minutes later with a fine piece of footwork and then played a one-two with Michael Collins.

The academy star got to the byline and tried to pick out Palmer, but his centre was cleared.

Orient captain Robbie Weir was then introduced for Palmer with 17 minutes left and Koroma was involved again soon after as he sprinted past three opponents before firing over Pym’s goal.

The teenager punched the ground in frustration after the miss before things got even worse for O’s as Atangana lost possession and substitute Robbie Simpson put McAlinden through and he slotted past Cisak to make it 4-0 in the 82nd minute.

Shortly after the restart Edwards was handed another problem when Weir went down somewhat innocuously and was left holding his knee.

The scream of pain from the O’s skipper and the reaction of his team-mates, especially McCallum, suggested it could be anterior cruciate ligament injury to the knee.

It took four minutes before Weir left the pitch on a stretcher, with Adeboyejo coming on in his place, and five minutes of stoppage time were added on as O’s briefly threatened from a corner before the full time whistle followed.

And defeat leaves the east Londoners in 20th place ahead of Saturday’s London derby with Barnet at Brisbane Road.

Exeter City: Pym; Stacey, Brown, Moore-Taylor, Woodman (Archibald-Henville 83); Wheeler, Tillson, James, Harley (Simpson 74); Watkins, Reid (McAlinden 63).

Unused substitutes: Olejnik, Taylor, Ampadu, Sweeney.

Leyton Orient: Cisak; Judd, Erichot, Parkes, Hunt; Massey, Collins, Atangana, Kennedy (Koroma 59); Palmer (Weir 73, Adeboyejo 87), McCallum.

Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Bowery, Pollock, Ochieng.

Attendance: 4,537 (259 Leyton Orient supporters).

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