Five-star Orient set new club record thanks to Bonne treble
PUBLISHED: 21:44 25 September 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
National League: Braintree Town 1 Leyton Orient 5
A Macauley Bonne hat-trick inspired Leyton Orient to a 5-1 win away to Braintree Town in the National League to help the club set a new record for its longest unbeaten start to a new league campaign.
Heading into the clash, Justin Edinburgh’s team had played 12 and were the only side in the division yet to taste defeat.
Back in the 2013/14 campaign, Orient also began the season unbeaten after 12 league matches, but lost the 13th fixture to Coventry City while in League One.
There was no repeat this time around as the O’s romped to a stunning victory with goals from Marvin Ekpiteta and Josh Koroma helping cancel out Lyle Della-Verde’s first half leveller for the Iron to keep the E10 outfit at the summit.
The O’s picked the same starting XI for the ninth consecutive match, but head coach Edinburgh did made a change to the bench.
Matt Harrold dropped out and was replaced by the fit again James Brophy, who had not featured for Orient in a competitive game since August 14.
Harrold was at Cressing Road though to support the squad, alongside George Elokobi, Sam Ling and Alex Lawless.
In the Braintree Town team was ex-O’s centre back Michael Clark, but fellow Orient academy graduate Henry Ochieng was not part of the matchday squad.
Joe Ellul, formerly of Billericay Town and Barkingside, also started for the Iron and in goal for the hosts was youngster Ben Killip, who earned a call-up to the England C squad earlier today alongside Koroma and Ekpiteta.
A number of E10 supporters made the trip up to Braintree via the M11 and A120 and an expectant atmosphere was present minutes before kick-off.
It didn’t take Orient long to get on the front foot as Bonne nearly got through on goal in the sixth minute, but Clark got back to help clear the danger.
The O’s pressed again with seven on the clock and this time they got some reward as Koroma won the visitors a penalty.
He got in behind the Braintree back four and just as he was about to shoot, Ellul come back and clipped his foot.
Referee David Rock took a few moments to gather his thoughts before he pointed to the spot and Bonne made no mistake to make it 1-0 to Orient with nine minutes gone.
It was the perfect start for Edinburgh’s men, but Braintree immediately looked to find a way back into the contest and tested Dean Brill for the first time in the 11th minute.
Lyle Della-Verde turned away from Joe Widdowson and curled an effort towards goal, Danny Rowe ran across it and it was enough to put O’s number one off as he could only spill the ball wide for a corner.
The Iron didn’t threaten too much from the set-piece, but their response showed they were not going to just roll over at Cressing Road.
Orient were still looking strong and nearly went two up in the 22nd minute when Charlie Lee’s long throw was flicked on by Ekpiteta and Bonne controlled smartly before volleying just wide.
It was a stunning piece of play and the only thing lacking for the O’s was the finish by their leading marksman.
And then, almost from nowhere, Braintree were level and it was largely thanks to a fine run by Clark.
The ex-Orient defender brought the ball forward and played a one-two with Della-Verde before Widdowson come across to make an intervention inside the visitors penalty area.
While some Braintree players appeared for a penalty, no spot-kick was given and the ball rolled for Della-Verde and he slotted past Brill to level it up in the 23rd minute.
Orient did regroup and Koroma saw an effort blocked four minutes later, but the goal had buoyed the Iron.
Bradley Quinton’s men were full of adrenaline now and Dave Nieskins saw a long-range strike easily saved by Brill in the 32nd minute.
Less than 60 seconds later Braintree forced O’s into more mistakes as first the captain Jobi McAnuff gave the ball away and then Charlie Lee chipped out for a throw when under pressure.
Orient didn’t necessarily look rattled, but they knew they were in a battle against last season’s National League South play-off winners.
Bonne went into the book of referee Rock minutes later for a late tackle on Ellul and the home fans, who were hugely outnumbered, were starting to eye an upset.
Edinburgh’s side slowly began to wrestle a foothold back in the contest though, with Lee’s long throws causing Braintree problems.
In the 40th minute, another long throw by Lee caused Killip problems and the ball was only partially cleared back to McAnuff.
The O’s captain used all his experience by delivering a looping, tricky cross back into the area and even though Bonne was brilliantly denied by the Braintree stopper, the ball fell for Ekpiteta and he drilled home to score his third goal of the campaign.
Five minutes before half time, Orient were back in front and again in the driving seat at Cressing Road much to the delight of their jubilant supporters.
Braintree seemed a tad deflated after the second O’s goal and after two minutes of stoppage time at the end of the first 45, both sets of players come in for a well-earned 15-minute break.
Half of the job was done for Edinburgh’s team, but he would have made the point of saying during the interval there was a long way to go.
Craig Clay got the second period underway and O’s began with a controlled manner and Jon Muleba went into the book in the 51st minute after McAnuff tricked him into a needless sliding tackle.
It was the first of a few notable fouls in the opening exchanges after the restart and at this point it seemed Braintree were tiring.
Another free kick was given away in the 56th minute and fortunately for the hosts Josh Coulson could only head over after Ellul had failed to clear sufficiently.
Orient were pressing for a third and 12 minutes into the second half it arrived and in stunning style.
Lee whipped the ball over the top of the Braintree back four and invited Killip to try and claim the loose ball.
The Iron goalkeeper couldn’t beat Koroma to it and Orient’s young attacker showed his class with a stunning lob from 25-yards.
With around half an hour left at Cressing Road, O’s were firmly on top and on course for a 13th consecutive match without defeat this season.
Braintree were looking more and more knackered with every passing minute and in comparison, Orient appeared full of energy.
It seemed only a matter of time before the east Londoners added a fourth and in the 65th minute they did.
Yet another long throw from Lee caused the hosts problems and a flick on allowed the ball to come for Bonne and he made no mistake at the back post to net his eighth goal of the campaign.
Edinburgh made a substitution straight after the tap-in as Dale Gorman replaced Clay, who had just been on the receiving end of a heavy tackle from Clark minutes earlier.
Orient had four, but they were not finished there and grabbed a fifth in the 70th minute and it was no surprise to see Bonne on the scoresheet again to secure the match ball.
The former Colchester United forward ran and ran at Nieskins and worked his way into the area before firing past Killip from 12-yards.
It was another excellent finish by the O’s hitman and gave him a second treble at the club since signing in the summer of 2017.
Soon after Edinburgh made a second change as Brophy made his return from injury by coming on for the final 19 minutes.
Lee was the man to make way and McAnuff moved into the centre of the pitch to link up with Gorman.
As was to be expected, the Orient faithful were in party mood now with their team on the verge of setting a new club record.
James Alabi entered the fray with 76 played with Dayton making way to a rapturous applause from the away following.
Braintree appeared to get a second wind at this point and put pressure on the O’s back four with a number of corners won in quick succession.
Orient were not about to give away another goal, however, and chucked themselves at every cross which entered the area to ensure the score stayed 5-1.
The Iron did threaten again in the 86th minute, but Della-Verde’s curling effort went harmlessly over Brill’s goal.
Four minutes of stoppage time was added on at the end of the 90 and the 1,334 Orient fans inside Cressing Road didn’t want the game to end.
It eventually did, but it only reiterated O’s strength as the win moved them two points clear at the top of the table after 13 matches.
Orient will host Sutton United next on Saturday and will be out to keep up this terrific form in front of their home fans.
Braintree Town: Killip; Clark, Nieskins, Ellul (Amaluzar 81); Muleba, Crook (Sogaf 61), James, Gabriel ©; Della-Verde; Rowe (Charles 81), Bettamer.
Unused substitutes: Pattison, Grant.
Leyton Orient: Brill; Judd, Coulson, Ekpiteta, Widdowson; Dayton (Alabi 76), Clay (Gorman 65), Lee (Brophy 71), McAnuff ©; Bonne, Koroma.
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Happe.
Attendance: 2,574 (1,334 Leyton Orient supporters).