Macauley Bonne brace helps Leyton Orient down Sutton United and end 15-match run without National League success
- Credit: Archant
National League: Leyton Orient 4 Sutton United 1
Leyton Orient gave their supporters an early Christmas present and boy did the fans deserve it as Justin Edinburgh’s side ran out 4-1 winners at home to Sutton United.
The U’s were top of the table heading into the clash at Brisbane Road while the O’s had gone 15 games without a victory in the National League.
An early goal from Macauley Bonne helped set the tone for Orient and they went on to record a handsome triumph.
Matt Harrold got on the scoresheet before Bonne added another and James Dayton provided the icing on the cake.
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It was a wonderful day for Orient and their supporters, who hadn’t seen their side win in the division since September 2.
Given it was set to be O’s last home game before Christmas, it was the perfect present for the long-suffering supporters after a horrible run of form.
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Edinburgh made one change to the team which lost so disappointingly at Solihull Moors last weekend.
Henry Ochieng dropped out of the squad altogether and was replaced by Alex Lawless in the centre of midfield with Josh Koroma returning to the bench.
The leaders included a number of players in their squad with links to Orient or at least the local area.
Sutton centre back Simon Downer began his career at Brisbane Road before leaving in 2004.
Elsewhere, U’s left-back Nicky Bailey had played for Orient’s rivals Southend United while centre midfielder Craig Eastmond started in the Arsenal academy before linking up with Colchester United.
Out wide was one-time Billericay Town winger Tom Bolarinwa and on the bench for the south Londoners was Josh Taylor, who was on trial with O’s this summer.
After such a lacklustre performance at Solihull, Orient began with better intent this time around and Craig Clay showed his aggression inside 60 seconds with a crunching tackle on Simon Walton.
With Orient on the front foot, they nearly took the lead in the fourth minute from their first corner of the game.
Stand-in captain Jobi McAnuff swung the ball in and although Bondz N’Gala missed it, Dan Happe fired towards goal, but a combination of U’s goalkeeper Jamie Butler and his defenders blocked the effort on the line.
It was encouraging for Edinburgh and soon after he was to witness Orient score their first goal under his tenure.
Alex Lawless picked the ball up on the right and back heeled for Dayton, who turned well before getting into the area where Walton bundled him to the ground.
Sutton’s midfielder picked up a booking as a result and Orient had the chance to take the lead in the seventh minute.
Top goalscorer Bonne made no mistake from the spot and fired into the corner for his 11th goal of the season and 10th in the league.
Orient were unable to build on their early lead, however, with Bolarinwa signalling his threat with a fine run, but he couldn’t pick out a team-mate with his cross.
Dean Brill was then called into action in the 11th minute when Bailey’s free kick was headed down for Ross Lafayette, but his shot was brilliantly tipped away by O’s 32-year-old goalkeeper.
Joe Widdowson went into the book moments later for a foul on Bolarinwa and Orient had to defend for their lives from the resulting free kick.
They did though, with Myles Judd making an excellent block before Dan Happe put it behind for a corner.
Although Sutton were dominating possession and pinning Orient back inside their own half, they were struggling to create chances.
In the 23rd minute the home custodian was needed when Lafayette headed down for Craig Dundas and he got a slight touch, but Brill blocked well.
Edinburgh’s men created an opportunity of their own soon after when Butler dropped a cross and Bonne chipped over his head, but Ilford-born Jamie Collins cleared off the line.
Sutton were back on the front foot in the 25th minute, however, with Bolarinwa causing Widdowson more problems, but his shot was deflected wide by Happe.
After an up and down opening half an hour, O’s started to get on top again with their skipper leading by example.
McAnuff dribbled past a couple of U’s players on the right before picking out Bonne, but Orient’s top goalscorer headed wide from eight-yards.
O’s captain then won a free kick near the corner flag, which Dayton whipped in, but Lawless saw a shot deflected up and safely into the arms of Butler.
Frustration was starting to get the better of Sutton, who knew they were in a real game, as Walton showed his displeasure at Clay after the midfielder committed a foul.
U’s captain Collins then went into the book of referee Adam Bromley for dissent as the red mist descended on the south Londoners.
Dayton smashed a free kick over on the stroke of the break before the half time whistle was signalled to bring a good first 45 to an end.
Orient led at the interval for the first time since their last win – a 1-0 victory at home to Dagenham & Redbridge in the FA Cup on October 17.
The first chance in the second half went to Sutton, but Eastmond’s curler was easily held by Brill in the 52nd minute.
Edinburgh’s men created the next opportunity 60 seconds later and it led to their second goal.
Dayton was fouled around 25-yards-out and McAnuff whipped a cross in which found Harrold, unmarked, and he headed home his third goal for the club.
Orient were two goals ahead in the league for the first time since their last success in the division – a 4-1 victory over Guiseley on September 2.
Away manager Paul Doswell wasted no time trying to change things as he made two substitutions in the space of six minutes.
One of them saw Taylor, who was on trial with Orient during pre-season, come on with 26 minutes left.
It failed to have the desired effect and Doswell made his third and final change five minutes later.
The O’s were defending well and Edinburgh would have been full of pride on the touchline at Brisbane Road.
Sutton, despite have plenty of the ball, were struggling to break the hosts down with Judd in particular excelling at right-back with several interceptions and tackles.
Edinburgh made his first substitution with 13 minutes left as David Mooney came on for Harrold, who left to a standing ovation.
Three minutes later, in the 80th minute, and Orient appeared to seal their victory with a third goal.
Mooney controlled inside the area and shot towards goal, but saw his effort deflect onto the post. It rolled out for Bonne and he drilled past Butler from eight-yards.
With 10 minutes left, O’s were three goals up and surely on the verge of ending their 15 match run without a league run.
But in typical Orient fashion, they conceded three minutes later when Sutton substitute Tommy Wright controlled a long pass, got past Bondz N’Gala too easily and fired past Brill at his near post.
The home custodian was furious with his defence after seeing his clean sheet evaporate before his eyes.
It wasn’t to matter too much though, as with four minutes left, Dayton fired an effort past Butler via a deflection to cap the scoring and give Edinburgh and O’s supporters a cherry on top.
The Orient fans chanted ‘Justin, give us a wave, Justin, Justin give us a wave’ and the new head coach duly obliged.
It had been a brilliant afternoon for the former Gillingham manager and there was still time for Koroma to replace the excellent Bonne.
Koroma showed his quality as well with a fine run before having a shot blocked and then the full time whistle occurred.
Orient, three months and one week after their last league victory, had rediscovered their winning touch in the National League.
The Edinburgh effect appears to have made a difference, but the O’s still remain in a dangerous position.
Chester, in 21st position, are only three points behind Orient with a game in hand on the east Londoners.
But the hope will be the O’s can build on this result and start to put a run together now which will move them away from the relegation zone.
If nothing else, this was the perfect early Christmas present for the supporters and showed signs of life under Orient’s new head coach.
Leyton Orient: Brill, Judd, N’Gala, Happe, Widdowson; McAnuff, Lawless, Clay, Dayton; Harrold (Mooney 77), Bonne (Koroma 90).
Unused substitutes: Grainger, Pollock, Westbrooke.
Sutton United: Butler; Spence, Downer, Collins, Bailey; Walton; Cadogan (Wright 58), Eastmond (Taylor 64), Bolarinwa; Lafayette, Dundas (Stearn 69).
Unused substitutes: Beckwith, John.
Attendance: 4,180 (443 Sutton United supporters).