Simpson’s strike keeps Orient top after battle with Wycombe

Leyton Orient forward Jay Simpson celebrates after scoring (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient forward Jay Simpson celebrates after scoring (pic: Simon O'Connor). - Credit: Archant

Sky Bet League Two: Leyton Orient 1 Wycombe Wanderers 1

Jay Simpson’s sixth goal of the season earned Leyton Orient a point at home to Wycombe Wanderers, which was enough to keep them top of the League Two table.

Ian Hendon’s team came from behind at Brisbane Road to show they have the character to respond to adversity.

The performance of Ollie Palmer, a half-time substitute, was a huge plus for the hosts with the big forward playing a key part in the goal.

Simpson’s strike continued the O’s unbeaten record at home and leaves them at the summit with 17 points from eight league fixtures.

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Cox was recalled to the starting team for the visit of the Chairboys after sitting on the bench at Cambridge United last weekend because he wasn’t 100 per cent fit.

And a groin injury to Bradley Pritchard meant Hendon wasn’t forced to make a tough decision about who to drop for the O’s number seven.

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Freddy Moncur, wearing bright pink boots, came onto the substitute’s bench in Pritchard’s absence after recently making his debut at Luton Town in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.

Brisbane Road was filling up nicely before kick-off as the hosts welcomed a Wycombe team, sitting fourth in the table, with an unbeaten away record thus far this season.

A minutes’s silence was impeccably observed by both sets of fans in memory of Orient’s Malcom Graham after he passed away recently before the home side got the action underway.

Garry Thompson had the first effort of note, but he poked over the bar for the visitors from outside the area.

Gareth Ainsworth’s team enjoyed the majority of the possession during the opening 10 minutes and they were opting to shoot when the goal was in sight.

Fortunately none of their efforts were testing home custodian Alex Cisak, but Hendon’s side began to get more of a foothold in the game and put the away goal under some pressure before the visitors broke from a corner and Sean Clohessy picked up a booking in the 13th minute.

Despite that caution the Brisbane Road outfit were growing into the contest and in the 19th minute Simpson had a shot blocked after nice football beforehand between Cox and Jack Payne.

The O’s had a scare midway through the half when Marcus Bean flicked on Joe Jacobson’s free kick over Cisak, but captain Mathieu Baudry was back on the line and volleyed clear.

Baudry was called into action again a minute before the half an hour mark as the ball dropped in the box and Gozie Ugwu lashed towards goal. Orient’s skipper was on hand to block, though, and it stayed goalless with a third of the game played in east London.

Wycombe went close again for the away side shortly afterwards after a poor back pass by Lloyd James. First Cisak stopped from Thompson before blocking Stephen McGinn’s effort.

From the resulting corner Aaron Pierre headed goalwards, but once again Cisak was on hand to prevent the visitors taking the lead.

Orient responded, though, when Cox was picked out in space and his centre across goal was nearly converted by Paul McCallum. The ball was half cleared, however, and Sammy Moore’s strike was deflected over the crossbar.

Cox’s corner kick was then met by Connor Essam, but he headed over and the away side went ahead moments later.

A ball into the box by Jacobson ricocheted up and Ugwu deflected it towards goal and Mason Bloomfield bundled it over the line from close range to put Wycombe ahead four minutes before the break.

It was the first time Hendon’s side had conceded at Brisbane Road this season and meant they faced an uphill battle to continue their 100 per cent record at home.

Three minutes of stoppage time were added on, but neither team was able to create anything significant and it remained 1-0 to the visitors at the break.

The O’s made a change at the break with forward Palmer coming on to replace James and switching to a 4-4-2 formation with Simpson moving to the right wing and Cox drifting out to the left.

It was a big opportunity for Palmer, after netting in a development match during the week, and showed Hendon isn’t afraid to make a tactic switch early.

After nine minutes the substitute showed his impact, holding off Sido Jombati and laying the ball to McCallum, but his ambitious volley from 30-yards-out flew wide.

But McCallum was replaced shortly afterwards and Blair Turgott introduced and taking over on the right, with Simpson restored back up front.

On the hour mark Pierre tested Cisak after controlling the ball in the box and creating a yard of space. He couldn’t beat the Aussie, however, and Orient should have tested Matt Ingram down the other end moments later.

Payne crossed into the penalty area and Cox, in space and free, headed over the bar when he should have at least hit the target.

In the 67th minute, though, the hosts did finally get back on level terms, but only after Wycombe nearly doubled their advantage.

A ball into the box was hacked clear by Baudry and Palmer flicked on towards Simpson, who ran towards goal.

It seemed like the opportunity was gone, though, but Palmer showed brilliant strength to outmuscle his opponent, put the challenge in and Turgott rolled the ball to Simpson.

Orient’s top goalscorer made no mistake and curled into the top corner and equalise, much to the delight of the Brisbane Road faithful.

The home fans were in fine voice now and the O’s continued to push forward with 23 minutes remaining.

Palmer was putting himself about and causing all sorts of problems for the away defence with the hosts now in the ascendancy.

And Hendon’s men had the chance to go ahead in the 77th minute when Cox picked out Simpson, he cut inside and shot towards goal, but Ingram pushed his effort wide with his feet and it remained level.

The match was delayed afterwards as fan invaded the pitch, but after he was eventually caught the game continued.

In the 86th minute Palmer and Bloomfield had a coming together inside the box, nothing was given by referee James Linington, but it definitely seemed like their was contact and Orient were perhaps a little fortunate not to concede a penalty.

Pierre and Moore clashed afterwards and Essam and Ugwu also got involved, but nothing was given and six minutes of stoppage time were added on.

Wycombe pushed for a winner during injury time and Payne made an excellent last ditch block inside the area to prevent the visitors grabbing a victory and the full time whistle shortly followed.

Although Orient’s run without a win extended, they still remain top of the table and came from behind against a title rival, which shows the character in this new team.

Leyton Orient: Cisak, Clohessy, Essam, Baudry, Shaw, Payne, James (Palmer 46), Moore, Cox, Simpson, McCallum (Turgott 56).

Unused substitutes: Grainger, Dunne, Kashket, Maguire, Moncur.

Wycombe Wanderers: Ingram, Jombati, Jacobson, McGinn, Pierre, Thompson (Amadi-Holloway 78), Bean, Bloomfield (Kretzschmar 90), Harriman, O’Nien, Ugwu.

Unused substitutes: Lynch, Banton, Sellers, Rowe, Donacien.

Attendance: 5,946 (835 Wycombe Wanderers supporters).

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