REPORT FROM ORIENT SITE
www.brisbaneroad.com: Match Report
Leyton Orient 3 Mansfield Town 1
by Mark S Waters
Orient bounced back from last week's debacle with an excellent victory against another of the division's top teams. The scoreline doesn't tell half the story however, as Mansfield dominated the first half and will feel aggrieved at going home with nothing - but full credit to the O's team who defended resolutely in the first 45 minutes, and turned things around convincingly after the break.
It was a dream start for Orient - after only five minutes Jabo Ibehre headed on Justin Miller's long throw from the left, and Gary Alexander, the latest O's player to inherit the captain's armband, slotted home the opening goal. The marking had been slack, but if Mansfield had taken their time to get their game together they soon made up for it.
Mansfield are renowned for their attacking philosophy, and they threw men forward in an effort to get back on terms. The O's defence, bolstered by new signing John Mackie, were stretched time and again, and Morris' goal was under siege for much of the half. Matthew Joseph put in a saving tackle on 20 minutes when Newey somehow managed to chest the ball back 20 yards and put the defence under pressure, then almost immediately Morris made a good stop on the line form a lob, ending up with a Mansfield forward crashing on top of him, the away player hitting his head on the post but both thankfully getting up unscathed.
Orient's attacking forays were few and far between at this stage, with Jabo and Alexander isolated by a deep-lying midfield four and getting little support when the ball found them. The result was the play switching straight back to the other end and inevitably the pressure eventually led to an equaliser. Wayne Corden's corner, the latest of an almost countless number, was met by Jake Buxton's powerful header from the edge of the box, and the ball beat Morris at the far post.
Mansfield weren't content with that and continued to press forward. Morris did well to block Junior Mendes' close range shot after Peters had cleared off the goal-line, and after a rare Orient break ended with Miller shooting over, Hunt picked up a yellow card for holding back MacKenzie who looked to be getting through on goal. But the half ended with the teams all square and at that point most O's fans in the stadium would probably have been happy for it to end that way.
The second half however saw a total transformation in the game. Maybe it was slightly disappointing to see the same eleven players take the field that had done so little in the previous 40 minutes, but the performance was a complete contrast. Justin Miller was pushed further forward, Newey came into the game for probably the first time, and the ball was being played to Ibehre's feet rather than his and Alexander's heads. More importantly, the game was being played in Mansfield's half, and though mistakes were still made, they were made in areas that were less damaging, and the ball was being won back more readily.
Mansfield weren't out of it - Joseph was booked for bringing down Mendes in full flight and the speedy striker was a threat throughout. But Orient were now taking the game to the visitors and Alexander was unlucky when the ball broke unkindly for him in a one-on-one with Stags keeper Pilkington. Mansfield countered by bringing on Iyseden Christie in place of Larkin, but this was an unadventurous change, using "Eyesdown" to replace a striker rather than giving him a running brief from midfield, and he was to prove largely ineffective.
Orient kept up the pressure, but it was Mansfield's turn to defend resolutely, and it looked for a while as though the breakthrough might be beyond the O's attack. But a corner from David Hunt was headed clear to Newey, who looked to have delayed his shot too long, but as a challenge came in he half-volleyed the ball into the bottom-right corner of Pilkingon's goal to restore the lead. The best, though, was yet to come. The Mansfield defence had been struggling to contain Ibehre, but finally Jabo wriggled past two defenders on the left goal-line and cut the ball backto Newey, whose low ball across the six-yard line was turned in by Alexander.
With less than ten minutes left it was effectively "game over", though Mansfield didn't give up. Mackie headed off the line following a free-kick, the ball eventually scrambled away after the ensuing goalmouth melee, and Day had the ball in the O's net, though only after the whistle had sounded for a push. Loan signing Lloyd Sam and Wayne Purser came on for Newey and Ibehre respectively as time-wasting substitutions, though Sam did get in one run down the left to give a taste of things, hopefully, to come. But the changes really gave the home crowd a chance to applaud the two heroes of the second half - however, the defence should also take a lot of credit for keeping the team in the match in the first 45 minutes.
Team: Morris; Joseph, Peters, Mackie, Billy Jones; Toner, Hunt, Miller, Newey (Sam); Alexander, Ibehre (Purser).
Subs not used: Harrison, Zakuani, Tate
O-Net Man-of-the-Match: Jabo Ibehre. Set up the opener in an otherwise anonymous first half. But once he started getting the ball at his feet, caused the Stags defence plenty of problems, culminating in the last goal.
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