Bonne helps O’s return to winning ways with revenge over Daggers
- Credit: Archant
National League: Leyton Orient 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 0
Macauley Bonne’s first-half header was enough to help Leyton Orient return to winning ways in the National League and gain some revenge over Dagenham & Redbridge with a 1-0 success in E10.
It was a deserved victory for Justin Edinburgh’s side and helped them build a lead at the top of the table.
After ending 2018 without a win in two games, Orient started the year with a victory, but for Daggers it is now back-to-back defeats.
The O’s were boosted by the return of captain Jobi McAnuff, who came in for Matt Harrold and Harrold dropped to the bench as a result, which saw young forward Ruel Sotiriou miss out.
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For Daggers, Peter Taylor, previously a player at Orient, introduced Jack Munns, Alex McQueen and Gavin Hoyte for Ollie Harfield, Harry Phipps and Ben Nunn.
Sam Ling and Joe Widdowson were up against their old club while on the bench for the visitors was Lamar Reynolds, who spent the second half of last season on loan at the E10 club.
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After a minute’s applause for the supporters who passed away in 2018, Orient got the game underway and attacked from the off.
James Brophy saw a cross blocked before Marvin Ekpiteta and Bonne were unable to get shots off.
The game settled down after and Dagenham played like a side who had won seven of their last nine matches as they passed the ball around with confidence.
It was the away side who created the first real chance of note when Angelo Balanta’s flick on sent Conor Wilkinson through on the left, but his lob was saved by Dean Brill and it stayed goalless after 17 minutes.
Back came Orient, though, and they nearly tested Elliot Justham in the 20th minute, but Charlie Lee’s volley, following McAnuff’s corner, sailed a few inches wide.
As the local clash reached the halfway point of the first half, it was still 0-0 with very few chances created.
The two sides were eager not to give anything away early on after a hectic period and it saw a cagey fixture produced.
Dagenham nearly broke the deadlock with 26 on the clock when a neat free kick routine saw the ball end up in the Orient net.
McQueen played short to Munns and he curled in for Balanta, who controlled and back heeled smartly past Dean Brill.
Away defender Manny Onariase looked to be in an offside position, however, and did affect Brill’s eyeline, so the goal was ruled out for offside.
It would prove an important moment in the match as with 32 minutes played Orient took the lead.
The danger appeared to be over for Dagenham, but Ling curled back into the area and Ekpiteta nodded up in the air, and unsurprisingly Bonne was the most alert to cushion a header into the corner and open the scoring.
Orient needed a lift and their top goalscorer had provided it with his 19th effort of the National League season.
The home fans were full of voice again now and the leaders seemed to have a spring in their step after two games without a win.
Plenty of individual battles were taking place all over the pitch, but the eye-catching one was between Widdowson and Wilkinson, who were far from best friends.
In the space of four minutes, they had three run-ins with both avoiding a booking but it seemed only a matter of time before one of them was cautioned by David Rock.
A minute of stoppage time was added on at the end of the first 45 and it went by with little to note as O’s held a slender advantage at the break.
Daggers got the second period underway and it didn’t take referee Rock long to bring out a yellow card for Widdowson.
The Orient left-back caught fellow full-back Hoyte late, but fortunately for O’s the free kick came to nothing after both Wilkinson and McQueen had bizarrely ran over it before the former whipping it into Brill’s hands.
Edinburgh’s men soon got on the front foot themselves and forced several corners in quick succession, but Justham dealt with them well.
Daggers’ goalkeeper was beaten all ends up in the 53rd minute, though, but he and the away side were saved by the woodwork.
O’s captain McAnuff picked the ball up near the halfway line and brought it forward, and dribbled past a number of opponents before he saw a low strike smash against the post and away to safety.
It was almost 2-0, but Taylor’s Dagenham were firmly still in the game and Munns let fly from 22-yards in the 55th minute, yet his drive took a deflection and sailed wide.
The game had turned into an end-to-end contest now with both sets of supporters full of noise and Orient hit the post again with 59 on the clock.
Gorman and McAnuff slide in and won the ball back before they found Koroma and his effort from 14-yards smashed against the woodwork and behind for a goal kick.
Justham did let the strike go and in the end was right to do so, but there was a growing sense of anticipation that a goal was coming.
The first substitution by either side was made in the 66th minute when Alex Lawless came on to replace Orient midfielder Gorman.
Dagenham showed their potency three minutes later when left-back Liam Gordon burst forward again and delivered a wonderful ball into the area.
Brill came and failed to claim, so it was left to Josh Coulson to head behind and ensure it stayed 1-0 to the hosts.
Orient knew they needed a second goal and ramped up the pressure with 20 minutes to go in east London.
The woodwork came to Daggers’ rescue again with 71 played when Widdowson cut the ball back for Koroma, but his side-footed shot took a deflection off Onariase and hit the crossbar.
Koroma was in full flow now and nearly produced a trademark goal with 76 played as he raced past Kenny Clark and Ben Goodliffe, but with the goal in sight, he missed his kick and the visitors survived.
Both sides made changes with 13 minutes left as Reynolds replaced Munns to face his old club and Matt Harrold, who enjoyed a brief loan spell with Dagenham almost 15 years ago, came on for Brophy.
Taylor was forced to make another substitution with 82 played when Onariase clashed heads and needed to be replaced by Shamir Mullings.
As the seconds ticked away, the tension increased and Koroma and McAnuff picked up cautions for dissent.
Koroma got back to what he does best in the 89th minute when Harrold did well to win the ball off Wilkinson and found the 20-year-old.
With three defenders around him, Koroma turned superbly and raced past Gordon and got around Justham, but blazed over slightly off balance with Lawless to his right.
It would have been a terrific goal, but it didn’t go in and so Dagenham remained in the game as four minutes of stoppage time was added on at the end of the 90.
Orient, with Coulson clearing everything, remained strong though and two clearances by Ekpiteta in the final seconds ensured they held on for a vital triumph.
After two games without a victory, O’s returned to winning ways and moved four points clear at the top of the table after Salford City defeated Wrexham.
Salford and Orient do battle on Saturday and Edinburgh’s men go into it knowing whatever the result, they will stay top after this success.
For Daggers, they return home at the weekend to take on Boreham Wood eager to bounce back.
Leyton Orient: Brill; Ling, Coulson, Ekpiteta, Widdowson; McAnuff (c), Gorman (Lawless 66), Lee, Brophy (Harrold 77); Koroma, Bonne.
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Happe, Alabi.
Dagenham & Redbridge: Justham; Hoyte, Goodliffe, Onariase (Mullings 82), Clark, Gordon; Wright, McQueen, Munns (Reynolds 77); Balanta, Wilkinson.
Unused substitutes: Moore, Smith, Blanchfield.
Attendance: 6,001 (647 Dagenham & Redbridge fans).