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Leyton Orient 3-0 Harrogate Town
Danny Johnson took his tally for the season to twelve as his impressive hat-trick helped Leyton Orient return to Sky Bet winning ways against out of sorts Harrogate Town at the Breyer Group Stadium.
Orient’s recent slump – a quartet of defeats across all competitions – had drawn criticism from supporters, questioning the tactics and team selection from Head Coach, Ross Embleton. Nevertheless, without a midweek fixture, the O’s chief and his squad – no doubt of the back of some considerable soul searching and hard work – were determined to draw a line and get back to basics.
“We have been able to sit and do what we consider the main part of our job,” Embleton explained.
“It’s also important that we’ve been able to rest. Training isn’t the same intensity as a game.
“We haven’t had to travel, and we haven’t had a Tuesday game for the first time in a long time.”
While Orient hadn’t tasted victory in four, visitors Harrogate arrived without a league success in five. Unsurprisingly, fluency wasn’t particularly evident from either during an untidy opening.
Leading marksman, Jack Muldoon found the upper rows of the stand with an early attempt for the visitors. But when Jobi McAnuff and Conor Wilkinson combined to send Johnson away, the O’s top scorer was altogether more ruthless, firing low across James Belshaw to hand the East Londoners the lead.
Belshaw sprung to his right to palm away Wilkinson’s left-footed strike – McAnuff again pulling the strings after driving from midfield. But within seconds, Johnson had rifled a crisp drive beyond the Harrogate stopper to double his and the O’s account for the afternoon.
James Brophy should have sealed the deal, sending a low shot the wrong side of an upright after Johnson had turned provider Meanwhile, Aaron Martin nodded into the gloves of Lawrence Vigouroux as the sides exchanged decent openings either side of the interval.
Brophy and McAnuff saw efforts blocked in quick succession, but from the resulting flag-kick flag-kick from the latter, Johnson arrived unmarked at the back post to claim the match ball and all but seal the points.
Belshaw stuck out a hand to deny Wilkinson a fourth, while Vigouroux did well to divert Tom Walker’s late effort. But Orient had done more than enough to relieve some of the pressure and edge into the top half of the table just two points shy of the play-off places.
Leyton Orient returns to Sky Bet League Two action on Tuesday, November 24 when they take on Bradford City at The Breyer Group Stadium (7pm). Then they head to Port Vale on Saturday 28 (3pm).
Leyton Orient: Lawrence Vigouroux, Sam Ling, Joe Widdowson, Ouss Cisse, Dan Happe, Josh Coulson, Jobi McAnuff (Capt) (James Dayton 78’), Conor Wilkinson (Jordan Maguire-Drew 81’, James Brophy (Louis Dennis 81’), Hector Kyprianou (Josh Wright 88’), Danny Johnson Subs not used: Sam Seargent (GK), Jordan Thomas, Louis Dennis, Tunji Akinola
Booked: Josh Coulson (foul)
Goals: Danny Johnson 19’, 31’, 73’
Harrogate Town: James Belshaw, Ryan Fallowfield, Dan Jones, Josh Falkingham (Capt), George Thomson, Aaron Martin (Jon Stead 60’), Jake Lawlor (Warren Burrell 46’), Brendan Kiernan (Tom Walker 86’), Lloyd Kerry (Connor Kirby 60’), Jack Muldoon, Connor Hall Subs not used: Joe Cracknell (GK), Kevin Lokko
Booked: Warren Burrell (foul), Dan Jones (foul)
Referee: Neil Hair
Assistants: Sam Ogles and Oliver Jackson
Fourth Official: Adrian Tranter