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Nicky Hunt hopes Jay Simpson stays at Leyton Orient despite Southend United chasing his signature

PUBLISHED: 14:00 17 August 2016

Leyton Orient striker Jay Simpson gets in a shot against Stevenage on his first competitive appearance of the campaign (pic: Simon O'Connor)

Leyton Orient striker Jay Simpson gets in a shot against Stevenage on his first competitive appearance of the campaign (pic: Simon O'Connor)

Simon O'Connor Photography

Experienced defender discusses 3-0 triumph over Stevenage and how grabbing first goal of the match was crucial

Nicky Hunt hopes Leyton Orient can keep hold of last season’s top goalscorer Jay Simpson after he made his first appearance of the campaign last night.

The ex-Arsenal forward has been heavily linked with a move away from Brisbane Road this summer.

Southend United have held talks with the 26-year-old, but he played 74 minutes last night against Stevenage.

Although he failed to hit the back of the net, his presence was a big boost to the players and the supporters.

“You don’t score 25 goals last year and not give the team and fans a lift. Jay reacts off that and we react off him. He played well against Stevenage,” said Hunt.

“We certainly hope he’s going to be here for the rest of the season, but it’s up to him and the owners to work their magic and keep him at the club. In our eyes and the manager’s, he is a fantastic striker at the club.”

Andy Hessenthaler would have been pleased to be able to include Simpson in the starting XI and even more delighted with O’s 3-0 win.

Gavin Massey opened the scoring in the 20th minute before Dean Cox added a second eight minutes before half time.

Harry Cornick crossed in from the right and Orient’s number seven headed home from the edge of the area.

Massey made it 3-0 late on, lashing in Jordan Bowery’s cross, and Hunt reflected on the victory.

He said: “Coxy is only about 5 ft so he doesn’t score many headers, but it’s great and when you go two up it is always a bit iffy.

“You think there going to come out up for it after half time and they had a chance or two, but we killed it off with the third goal. It was relatively easy towards the end of the game.”

The ex-Bolton Wanderers defender stressed how big the opening goal of the game was at Brisbane Road for both teams.

Jamie Jones initially denied Simpson before Cornick’s header hit the post, but eventually Massey rifled home.

It was a huge relief for the Orient players, fans and manager and allowed them to relax a little bit.

Hunt added: “You can’t state enough the importance of the first goal. It gives you the edge and puts the opposition on a bit of a downer.

“They’re thinking is another one coming and we’re thinking we need to go get another to try and kill the game off.

“It was a massive mental statement we achieved against Stevenage and we need to do that every game.

“The stats are huge on scoring the first goal, I think 60 per cent of teams win so it shows it is massive.”

Orient will hope to open the scoring at Grimsby Town on Saturday and have Simpson involved again too.

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