Stevenage 1 – 4 Leyton Orient
By Gavin Willacy at Met Police Sports Ground, Bushey
Leyton Orient jumped up the FLYA South East table with an emphatic 4-1 win over Stevenage on Tuesday afternoon, leapfrogging Colchester, Wycombe and Brentford into third place.
Fielding a strong side, the O’s looked the better side for much of the game but were fortunate not to go behind after ten minutes when Boro midfielder Louis Perry hit a rasping half-volley that Tom Lovelock managed to tip over the bar.
In a blustery wind at Bushey that made passing difficult, Boro keeper Jake Knight was unable to handle Sam Konway’s speculative 25 yard strike that gave Orient the lead on the half hour.
That reflected the game but Boro were stunned to leave the field 3-0 down at half-time, conceding two goals in a minute before the break through Chris Benjamin and 16 year old Afi Olafemi, both set up by midfield playmaker Moses Odubajo.
The visitors could have stretched their lead considerably after half-time, playing some flowing football. Olafemi hit the inside of both posts with one effort and then went close again, as did strike partner Benjamin, as Boro’s younger side struggled to cope.
Stevenage coach Jimmy Gilligan, in his last game in charge, made a triple substitution on 53 minutes, bringing on three U18 players who made a major difference, strengthening the whites and creating a more even game.
But still Orient scored a fourth on 61 minutes, a fantastic team goal on the break, culminating in Billy Lobjoit’s perfect right wing cross being swept home by Benjamin, who did not have to break his stride. That was Benjamin’s 20th league and cup goal of the season.
Knight made two fine saves to keep the score down and Boro had chances of their own but Orient looked like securing their first clean sheet of the whole season.
However, with five minutes left, Stevenage centre-back Farai Hallam advanced from the back and as the O’s defence expected a through ball, he drove an ambitious shot towards goal from at least ten yards inside his own half. O’s keeper Lovelock was well off his line and could nothing to stop the ball go over his head and drop into the net for an astonishing consolation goal. Sadly it was not captured on camera.
This was a fifth win in a row for Andy Edwards’ Orient boys, their eighth in ten games as they finish the season on a real high.