Leyton Orient 2 Cambridge United 1
Sky Bet League Two
Ross Embleton’s O’s are now unbeaten at home since Christmas – seven games – as two first-half Jordan Maguire-Drew and poacher, Danny Johnson strikes sufficed.
Paul Mullin hit the out-of-sorts U’s consolation after the interval, but the hosts held out for their second double of the season, on Saturday.
Persistent home pressure paid off when Maguire-Drew fired home on 18 minutes, after excellent Craig Clay approach work.
Before their second goal, the O’s survived a 32nd minute scare, when Harrison Dunk’s in-swinging free-kick hit a post, before Mullin saw his header blocked.
Despite Embleton and his bench gesticulating at the referee to blow for half-time, the hosts ultimately profitted as the original three minutes’ time added-on became five.
From another superb Clay give-and-go James Dayton’s shot was only parried by a shaky Callum Burton and poacher Johnson hit the O’s second.
Johnson then missed a couple of presentable chances to put the game out of United’s and they were made to pay as Mullin – in too much space – halved the O’s lead on 63 minutes.
Four minutes later, despite the game still being in the balance, Embleton gambled by subbing Dayton and giving player-coach, Jobi McAnuff a first appearance after a long-term lay-off.
And, the former Reading and Cardiff star didn’t disappoint and slotted into the fray immediately and soon brought a fine save out of the improving Burton, with a stinging 81st minute volley.
Orient are clearly improving and held out quite comfortably, but in the expected late Cambridge rally, the underworked Lawrence Vigouroux produced another late, top drawer tip-over to deny sub, Jack Roles.
Embleton said: “We need to show that steel and resilience to get through those tough moments – like we did today. Today was all about winning the next game – that’s what we’ve done today.”
“We’re proving a tough nut to crack – and a difficult team to beat when we play here.”
“I think there have been times when we’ve sent messages to other teams in the league – but haven’t quite got over the line. We need to show that steel and resilience to get through those tough moments – like we did today.”
He added: “Jordan Maguire-Drew’s finish was
great and Danny Johnson hit the sort of goal we had bought him in
for. Craig Clay had been moved up the pitch and finds himself in some
real key areas.”
With just ten games remaining, a a, Embleton revealed: ”I’ve got an eye on next season, in terms of recruitment, and how the squad looks. But, ultimately, it’s about ‘now’.”
Orient travel to high-flying Bradford City, this Saturday (kick-off 3pm),and Embleton concluded: “We go to Bradford with little to fear and to make our mark on the game.”
Opposing boss, Mark Bonner, criticised his players: “We need more ‘bite’ and must be brave enough at the back by not defending too deep. We need to get tougher.”
U’s defender, skipper Greg Taylor admitted: “It might have been a different game if we hadn’t conceded that second goal just before the break. It rather gave us a mountain to climb.”
McAnuff had the last word: “It was great to be back today and for the team it was good to get over the line today. We ran out worthy winners. In fairness, I did hit my effort straight at their keeper – but he did make a good save.”
Leyton Orient: Lawrence Vigouroux, George Marsh, Josh Coulson (captain), Dan Happe, James Brophy, James Dayton (Joe Widdowson 75), Craig Clay, Ouss Cissé, Jordan Maguire-Drew (Jobi McAnuff 66), Ruel Sotiriou, Danny Johnson (Lee Angol 75). Subs (not used): Sam Ling, Louis Dennis, Matt Harrold, Hector Kyprianou.
Cambridge United: Callum Burton, Kyle Knoyle, Harry Darling, Greg Taylor (captain), Harrison Dunk, Leon Davies (Jack Roles 58), Samir Carruthers (Liam O’Neill 48) Paul Lewis, George Maris, Victor Adeboyego, Paul Mullin. Subs (not used): Dimitar Mitov (gk), George Taft, Ben Coker, Sam Smith, Tom Knowles.
Referee: Paul Marsden
Assistants: Samuel Ogles, Paul Lister
Fourth Official: Michael Webb