Orient edge Exiles thriller to stay top and keep 100 per cent league record
PUBLISHED: 17:01 22 August 2015 | UPDATED: 17:01 22 August 2015
©TGS Photo tgsphoto.co.uk +44 8450 946026
Sky Bet League Two: Newport County 2 Leyton Orient 3
Leyton Orient remain top of the League Two table but only after edging a five-goal thriller with Newport County at Rodney Parade.
Ian Hendon’s team were two goals up inside seven minutes with Paul McCallum and Jay Simpson on target.
But the Exiles responded by scoring twice in the final four minutes of the first half to level the scores.
The O’s were faced with a real test of character afterwards and managed to pass it when Dean Cox scored from close range just before the hour mark.
Although Newport put the pressure on, the east London outfit held on to keep their 100 per cent record in the league – the only team to still hold that in the fourth division this season.
Hendon named the same starting XI that played against Stevenage, resisting the temptation to give Blair Turgott and Ollie Palmer starts after impressing on Tuesday night.
Alan Dunne missed out at Rodney Parade with a thigh injury and that allowed youngster Montel Agyemang to come onto the substitute’s bench.
The sun was shining brightly in South Wales and the O’s were wearing their blue third kit for the first time this season.
Newport’s fans made an enormous amount of noise before kick-off and that continued after the visitors got the match underway.
It didn’t take long for the first chance to be created and Orient and McCallum showed a fantastic clinical edge as the away side took the lead after just four minutes.
Bradley Pritchard threaded into Simpson in space, he crossed into the box but couldn’t find anyone. The ball came to Cox, though, and he picked up his fifth assist of the season.
His centre was met by McCallum, who climbed above both Newport defenders to head past the County goalkeeper Joe Day via the crossbar. Afterwards the former West Ham forward celebrated his third goal of the season with his trademark salute.
It had been a fantastic start by Hendon’s side, but it was to get better just three minutes after their opener.
Simpson, making the 249th appearance of his career, controlled the ball just outside the Exiles box, made a yard of space and rifled into the top corner with a stunning left-footed strike.
Orient were now in dream land after just seven minutes at Rodney Parade and it seemed like a long way back for the home side.
Terry Butcher’s team responded by forcing a corner, but it came to nothing and it was nearly three for the east Londoners in the 16th minute when Cox latched onto a poor pass inside the Newport half.
His shot was saved by Day and the rebound fell to McCallum, but instead of shooting he tried to tee up strike partner Simpson and the hosts were able to clear the danger.
It continued to be one-way traffic as three minutes after that opportunity Cox picked out McCallum with a wonderful outside of the boot cross. The O’s forward headed over the bar, though, when in space.
Possession began to be more even as the half progressed, but the chances carried on coming for Orient and the next was in the 28th minute.
McCallum met Cox’s corner and his header hit the crossbar and bounced up and hit the crossbar again before hitting it one more time and going back into play where skipper Mathieu Baudry couldn’t force it in.
It was an incredible piece of play and another opportunity that wasn’t taken. Newport responded and Mark Byrne had an effort blocked for a corner by Baudry, who was looking excellent.
Orient’s goalkeeper Alex Cisak, fresh from his call-up to the Australian national team, came out to punch the set piece clear and the visitors lead remained intact.
Kevin Feely headed over the bar from another corner minutes later, but Hendon’s outfit were looking comfortable against a home side void of ideas going forward.
But in the 41st minute, almost out of nowhere, the home side reduced the arrears when Scott Boden fired in after ghosting into the box unmarked.
And in a strange sequence of events less than a minute later, Mark Byrne beat Cisak from outside the box with a curling effort to level the scores.
Orient, who had dominated for 40 minutes, suddenly found themselves level and playing at a positivity buzzing Rodney Parade.
Two minutes of addition time were added on and Danny Holmes nearly put Butcher’s men ahead, but Cisak tipped over the bar and it remained level at the break.
It had been an unusual opening 45 minutes with the O’s in control and seemingly on their way to three points before the Exiles hit back in some style during the final five of the half.
What it provided, though, was the first real test of character for this new Orient team and for Hendon. They needed to respond after the interval.
Newport began the second period and Cisak was forced to punch clear early on as the hosts continued playing with the momentum they generated towards the end of the first half.
Butcher’s team won a corner in the 49th minute and despite a decent delivery, Orient cleared. The next ball in found Feely, though, and his goalbound header was going towards the top corner, but Cisak tipped it away.
The hosts continue to press and the O’s management team responded by bringing goalscorers from Tuesday night Palmer and Turgott on for Lloyd James and Simpson.
Orient were now playing with a flat midfield four, but Newport still held the advantage and Medy Elito fired wide from outside the box to signal his threat.
But a minute before the hour mark and Hendon’s changes paid off. Palmer held the ball up and found McCallum. He passed out to Turgott and his centre was volleyed into the corner by Cox for his second goal of the campaign.
It quietened the home fans and was exactly what the doctor ordered at Rodney Parade for the away side at least and Hendon’s men.
Although Turgott created the goal, Palmer was having an even better game. The forward was looking a constant menace for the Newport defence and making his presence felt.
Butcher’s team did respond to going behind, however, as Boden went close with a header as the game entered the final 20 minutes.
Palmer had an opportunity shortly afterwards as Cox picked him out in the box, but the big forward volleyed over the bar.
Hendon made his third and final change in the 74th minute as Scott Kashket made his first competitive appearance of the season, replacing Cox.
The youngsters was immediately thrust into the action as he combined with Bradley Pritchard before a body of Newport defenders prevented him getting a shot off.
Palmer went close again soon after as he combined with Kashket and McCallum before Baudry headed a corner wide.
Newport appeared to get a second wind as the game edged towards the final 10 minutes and substitute Aaron Collins should have levelled the scores in the 84th minute, but fired wide of goal inside the box.
Orient were able to catch their breath when Frazer Shaw blocked an effort with his face and had to receive treatment. The break in play allowed Hendon’s players to take in some water and regroup.
The home side continued to bring the ball forward and put pressure on the O’s as four minutes of stoppage time were added on at Rodney Parade.
Josh Laurent had a great chance to level in addition time but poked over the bar and Hendon’s men held on to earn a fourth consecutive league win of the campaign.
It keeps them at the summit and they are the only side in the division to have a 100 per cent record this season.
Newport County: Day, Holmes, Barrow, Feely, Elito, Klukowski (Owen-Evans 83), Ansah (Collins 68), Twumasi, Boden (Laurent 74), Poole, Byrne.
Unused substitutes: Taylor, Hayden, Parselle, Jones.
Leyton Orient: Cisak, Shaw, Essam, Baudry, Clohessy, James (Turgott 53), Moore, Pritchard, Cox (Kashekt 74), Simpson (Palmer 53), McCallum.
Unused substitutes: Grainger, Moncur, Agyemang, Ling.
Attendance: 2,779 (525 Leyton Orient supporters).