Magpies deservedly pinch the points away to nervy O’s
- Credit: Archant
National League: Leyton Orient 0 Maidenhead United 1
Leyton Orient’s hopes of winning the National League title were dealt a massive blow after they lost 1-0 at home to Maidenhead United this afternoon.
The Magpies took the lead at the start of the second period and deserved their victory in E10 after a determined and disciplined display.
Justin Edinburgh’s side huffed and puffed in E10, but rarely created anything of note and have now slipped to third in the division.
Orient made two changes to the side which could only draw 1-1 at Hartlepool United last weekend.
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Sam Ling returned at right-back with Myles Judd missing out completely and the big news was Jay Simpson started from the off.
It was his 100th appearance for O’s and came over two years since his last, after he completed a free transfer to the club on Tuesday.
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There was more good news for the east Londoners with Marvin Ekpiteta back and fit again after an ankle injury, but he had to settle for a place on the bench.
For the first time since November 17 when Bromley visited E10, Orient kicked off a game not top of the table.
Solihull Moors’ 3-0 triumph at Aldershot Town during the week knocked the O’s off the summit, but they knew a win here would give them the opportunity to return there.
After a minute’s silence for Matt Brazier, formerly of Orient, and England World Cup winner Gordon Banks, the hosts got proceedings underway.
Simpson’s arrival had clearly buoyed the east London faithful, who cheered his name ahead of kick-off, and O’s made an excellent start.
Edinburgh’s team won two corners inside the opening 60 seconds and from the second Charlie Lee headed Jobi McAnuff’s cross wide.
With three on the clock, Orient really should have taken the lead and Simpson played his part in the move.
He linked up nicely with Joe Widdowson on two occasions and the left-back picked out fellow full-back Ling with a superb cross, but he volleyed wide from eight-yards.
Following a brief opening 10 minutes, the game settled down and the Magpies showed their intent when Adrian Clifton saw a shot deflected behind for a corner.
It came to nothing, with 11 gone, but demonstrated Maidenhead’s potency should the O’s take their eye off the ball.
Six minutes later and the Magpies wanted a penalty kick and could feel aggrieved not to get one from referee Simon Mather.
The ball dropped inside the Orient area and as Jamie Turley went to clear, Clifton got in ahead of him and was caught by the centre back.
Referee Mather remained unmoved, though, but Maidenhead kept the move alive and a cross came for Clifton again, but he fired over with an overhead kick.
Moments later and Simpson’s involvement started to increase as he set Craig Clay up for a chance, yet his 25-yarder was easy for Carl Pentney.
Then James Brophy cut inside, but couldn’t get a shot off and Lee also saw an effort blocked by a defender.
Alan Devonshire’s Maidenhead were more than holding their own, however, and had a couple of opportunities midway through the half.
Firstly Sam Nombe got around Widdowson too easily, but his cross was blocked in the 24th minute and then two minutes later Ryan Upward tested Dean Brill.
It was not exactly going to play for Orient with half an hour on the clock in the capital, although there was still plenty of time to go.
Maidenhead were full value for a point so far, but they almost fell behind in the 38th minute when Brophy and Ling combined and the latter found Bonne, but the cross was just behind him and he could only deflect an effort wide.
Two minutes later and O’s had another scary moment at the back when Simpson lost possession and the Magpies sent the ball over the top for Clifton to chase.
Brill came out and looked to get there first, but Maidenhead’s number 17 got their first and it left the referee with a decision to make.
After consulting with his linesman, a yellow was handed to Brill with the goalkeeper getting the benefit of the doubt with Clifton knocking the ball almost out of play.
It was another let-off for Orient and they nearly punished the visitors a minute before the end of the half when the ball dropped for Simpson inside the area, but his shot was blocked and so was Clay’s follow-up effort.
Two minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the 45 and they went by with little to note as it remained goalless at the break.
A strong start was needed by O’s, but they didn’t get it and in the 53rd minute the away side took an arguably deserved lead.
Remy Clerima curled a cross into the area and although all of the Orient players stopped and put their hands up for the offside flag, it stayed down and Clifton tapped home to open the scoring.
The task of the hosts was even tougher now and they were prevented from trying to immediately get back on level terms when Pentney needed treatment.
Eventually he was able to resume, but with the clock on the hour mark, O’s had just over 30 minutes to get two goals.
Orient boss Edinburgh had already seen enough and switched Brophy and McAnuff and the former automatically looked better on the left.
Yet it failed to produce enough openings and Jordan Maguire-Drew came on with 19 minutes left.
Soon after, Harrold was introduced, as O’s switched formation to 3-4-1-2 in an attempt to try and get something from the game.
The changes kept on coming as Dale Gorman replaced Simpson in the 78th minute and Orient desperately searched for a leveller.
Finally they started to build up ahead of steam and a succession of corners got the fans off their feet, but Maidenhead remained organised and disciplined at the back.
Gorman was looking lively and he turned away from an opponent in the 84th minute, yet his effort was easy for Pentney.
Still O’s waited to create a big opportunity and two minutes from time they did, but it fell to the wrong man.
Bonne and Gorman combined and the latter found Clay, who sprinted into the area and past one opponent before he squared for Harrold, but he could only scoop over from four-yards under pressure.
It was a gilt-edged opportunity and Orient were lucky moments later when Mike Fondop went through and chipped past Brill, yet his effort hit the post and bounced away to safety.
Six minutes of stoppage time was added on, although the first 120 seconds were occupied with both sets of players squaring up to each other after a foul on Brophy.
After tempers had cooled, O’s went about trying to produce opening, but this day belonged to Devonshire’s team.
They held on for a massive three points in their survival battle with the Magpies fans celebrating wildly at full time.
For Orient, things could have been a lot worst given Solihull Moors could only draw 2-2 at home to Barnet and Salford City and AFC Fylde lost at home to Dover Athletic and Chesterfield respectively.
Wrexham did win, though, and that sends O’s down to third and they don’t play in the league again until March 2 where they will desperately need to rediscover their form from the early part of the campaign.
Leyton Orient: Brill; Ling, Turley (Harrold 74), Happe, Widdowson; Brophy, Clay, Lee (Maguire-Drew 71), McAnuff (c); Bonne, Simpson (Gorman 78).
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Ekpiteta.
Maidenhead United: Pentney; Clerima, Kilgour, Massey ©, Steer; Obileye; Nombe (Kelly 90), Comley, Upward, Akintunde (Owusu 75); Clifton (Fondop 72).
Unused substitutes: Bird, Mason.
Attendance: 5,337 (224 Maidenhead United supporters).