Brentwood, 11.47pm: 12°C, clear sky

O’s Come Back From Behind To Knock Out Trophy Holders


Brackley Town 1 Leyton Orient 2

Buildbase FA Trophy Quarter Final

Saturday 23rd February


Leyton Orient are into the Semi Finals of the Buildbase FA Trophy after coming from behind to knock out holders Brackley Town. Second half goals from Matt Harrold and Dan Happe cancelled out Lee Ndlovu’s first half effort, but the Saints certainly put up a dogged defence of the silverware they won last May against Bromley. It was the third time in as many years that they had reached this round, and in front of a crowd of they showed the O’s just why they are also challenging


It was the O’s who actually created the first chance when in the 5th minute Jobi McAnuff floated over one of his dangerous free kicks that Danny Lewis did well to cut out. But the hosts countered quickly and there was a scary moment for Justin Edinburgh’s side as Matt Lowe managed to slip into the box, almost taking the ball past Dean Brill who did manage to re-group and charge the ball down. And it was to be Lowe who had the first meaningful chance when his low shot tipped away by the O’s stopper.


The O’s did manage a couple of free kick, but then were in a spot of bother as a ball over the top allowed James Armson to go onto a one-on-one with Brill, which the O’s ‘keeper saved. Moments later and Brill was in action again, diving and palming away a Glenn Walker free kick.


A determined run by Dale Gorman did manage to win the O’s a corner in the 18th minute. The resulting corner was knocked down to Macauley Bonne but on this occasion the O’s talisman could only fire his shot high and wide of goal.


Brackley’s team contained nine players who had won the Trophy in May. One of those was Matt Lowe and he had a major hand in the goal that handed the holders the lead in the 24th minute. Lowe was able to beat Sam Ling and then centred across Orient’s six-yard box where Lee Ndlovu was waiting to tap the ball home.


The holders nearly doubled that lead two minutes later when Gareth Dean’s powerful header from a corner was kept out by a superb Brill save. And Brackley kept chipping way, with Luke Fairlamb having two attempts at goal – McAnuff and a returning Marvin Ekpiteta both blocking.


Orient’s defence had been under heavy pressure but the O’s were able to muster a chance of sorts in the 34th minute. McAnuff knocked a ball onto Bonne,  who poked it towards Ekpiteta whose flick was cleared on the line.


But the hosts saw out the rest of the half having most of the possession, although Brill was not called upon to make any further saves. At the half time whistle the holders were looking good for their lead.


The O’s created another half-chance of sorts early in the second half. Bonne managed to nod a tame header wide. At the other end and Brill had to be at his best to stop Brackley adding to their tally. In an almost carbon copy of their first goal, Walker was able to exploit some space down the left flank, then delivered a pinpoint cross into Orient’s six-yard box that was aimed at Ndlovu. It would have got to him had Brill not made a brilliant catch.


Bonne had a run inside Brackley’s box halted by Dean, then Gorman skewed a shot wide. It was meagre pickings and luckily for the O’s Brackley went on to be wasteful with their next opportunity. A ball over the top found Armson unmarked and in a good position to lob Brill, instead he could only miscue his shot horribly wide.


Brackley needed another goal and kept trying to attack. One dangerous ball into the O’s danger zone saw Ekpiteta put in some brave defending to get a ball away, colliding with a Brackley player in the process and coming off with an injured nose. Then in  the 69th minute the holders conceded a penalty after Jordan Maguire-Drew was adjudged to have been fouled in the box by the referee. Having been handed an opportunity to draw level, Orient were then left chasing the game as Lewis managed to tip Bonne’s spot kick around the post. And the Saints ‘keeper then did further good work as the resulting corner ended up with Maguire-Drew having a go from an acute angle that Lewis was wise to.


However the O’s managed to get back on terms in the 74th minute. Brophy battled and then won the ball, centred and Matt Harrold was there to poke the ball home from close range. A very similar goal to the one Brackley had scored earlier in the game. But now having levelled the tie, the O’s were now in the ascendancy. Another Orient ball into the Brackley box saw Craig Clay going down after a challenge. On this occasion Mr Hulme wasn’t convinced, turned away the appeals and dished out a yellow card to Clay for stimulation. In all honesty – I think the referee got the two penalty appeals the wrong way round.


But play continued and so did Orient’s attack, which was now clicking into gear. Maguire-Drew had played a major part since being introduced from the subs bench. It was he that did some good approach play before setting up Jay Simpson, who wasted the opportunity and lashed his shot over the bar.


But the O’s were knocking and the door finally opened again in the 83rd minute. A corner was headed home by Dan Happe at the back post to head Orient the lead.


The O’s now kept it tight at the back, and had to as well because there were to be six further minutes of stoppage time to negotiate. Brackley didn’t want to hand the Trophy back just yet and fought for every ball. But the only real chance they managed was a Walker effort that he drilled over the bar. Maguire-Drew could have put the tie to bed late on when his mazy run through the Brackley defence suddenly run out of steam and he wasn’t able to get a shot off on time and was soon swamped out.


Brackley can be proud of their display here. As for the O’s they came through a lacklustre first half display to suddenly find some further gears to see them turn the game on its head. Into the Semi-Finals of the Trophy then, the furthest Orient have ever got in this competition. The real prize is returning to the Football League, but as we head into March Justin Edinburgh has steered the O’s into a position where they could land a double.


Brackley Town: Danny Lewis, Ellis Myles (Daniel Nti 85’), Glenn Walker, Shane Byrne, Connor Hall, Gareth Dean (Capt), Matt Lowe, Luke Fairlamb, Lee Ndlovu, James Armson, Adam Walker.

Scorer – Lee Ndlovu (24’).

Leyton Orient: Dean Brill, Myles Judd (Jordan Maguire-Drew 57’), Marvin Ekpiteta (Josh Coulson 55’), Dan Happe, Sam Ling, Jobi McAnuff (Capt), Dale Gorman (Matt Harrold 65’), Craig Clay, James Brophy, Macauley Bonne, Jay Simpson.

Scorers – Matt Harrold (74’), Dan Happe (83’).

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