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Leyton Orient 1 - 0 AFC Telford United

Match Date: 16/3/2019
Competition: FA Trophy
Kick Off: 15:00
Attendance: 3662

Opposition Own Goals: 0

Team Sheet
Andy Wycherley
Ross White
Stephan Morley
Jonathan Royle
Shane Sutton
Theo Streete
Ryan Barnett
James McQuilkin
Amari Morgan-Smith
Daniel Udoh
Darryl Knights

Dominic Smith ( Replaced Ryan Barnett, 82 mins)
Sheridan Martinez
Brendon Daniels ( Replaced Stephan Morley, 20 mins)
Zak Lilly
Andre Brown ( Replaced Amari Morgan-Smith, 65 mins)

Referee: David Rock
Assistant 1: Oliver Jackson
Assistant 2: James Vallance
Official 4: Wayne Cartmel

A single second-half strike from O’s striker Macauley Bonne was all that separated them from the Bucks at the end of the first leg of a tight semi-final contest, leaving the second leg evenly poised.

Backed by close to 500 travelling fans, the Bucks made a bright and positive start, with Ryan Barnett prominent on the right-hand side; however, the game’s first goal attempt fell to O’s sharpshooter Bonne. Amari Morgan-Smith was harshly penalised for handball, and when Andy Wycherley could only parry Dale Gorman’s well-struck 30-yard shot, Bonne headed the rebound wide, perhaps caught by surprise at receiving the opportunity.

The visitors were creating more in forward areas than the hosts, and James McQuilkin had a shot blocked from 20 yards after Barnett and Darryl Knights both saw crosses not dealt with decisively by the O’s defence. Top scorer Dan Udoh then got within inches of a first effort on goal, unable to reach Steph Morley’s left-wing cross after Amari Morgan-Smith won a header from a free-kick to create the crossing opportunity. Morley and Darryl Knights combined well on a couple of occasions as the Bucks continued to look for weaknesses; O’s skipper Jobi McAnuff first wasted a free-kick chance, then saw Bucks captain Shane Sutton thrust himself in the way of his shot from the edge of the box, demonstrating the Bucks determination and commitment.

Just before the 20 minutes mark, the Bucks suffered a blow; whilst defending a situation which ended with an O’s effort headed well wide, Morley went down with an injury, and it quickly became apparent his afternoon’s work was over. He limped from the field dejectedly and substitute Brendon Daniels, a more naturally attacking player, took up Morley’s wing-back role.

Orient weren’t able to use their possession to great effect, and after Jon Royle conceded a corner on the right, Matt Harrold was unable to rise and connect cleanly to direct a header, the former Shrewsbury man yelling in annoyance. He wouldn’t have been in any better mood when he joined a quick counter-attack, but ran past where the ball in from the left would eventually arrive as the Bucks won the ball back through the tenacious James McQuilkin.

The swirling wind inside the Breyer Group Stadium was making it difficult for both teams; just after the half-an-hour mark, Bucks skipper Sutton found himself at the heart of things, and received a bang in the face for his pains. After attention from the physio, Sutton temporarily left the field, with swabs in his nostrils to stem some light bleeding; he would, however, continue.

Morgan-Smith, trying to work enough space for a shot in the Orient ‘D’, laid the ball off for a shot by Knights that was blocked, and he was to experience a sense of déjà vu moments later. After a terrific bit of footwork from Barnett that left his marker on his backside, the Bucks no.7 delivered another testing ball into the O’s penalty area that set up Knights to drive hard and low at goal, his effort charged down.

Orient responded, and after Ross White thrust out a leg to turn James Brophy’s low cross from the left away from goal, Barnett was guilty of a loose pass; his clearance came off the back of his own player and had the Bucks at sixes and sevens momentarily. That created a shooting chance for the O’s, and after Wycherley again parried straight to Bonne, the forward controlled the ball before then snatching at the chance and blasting horribly wide from no more than ten yards out.

The visitors were coming out worst in some of the physical challenges, and both Morgan-Smith and Streete went to the turf, both provoking uncharitable responses from a slightly tetchy home crowd. Streete was to be involved in the last action of the half too; from a long throw-in from the right, the ball was knocked down and Bonne swivelled at the back post to shoot, only to see Streete lunge across to deflect the effort wide of Wycherley’s right post. From the resulting corner, Brophy had a shot blocked from 20 yards before then skewing second shot wide of goal as the ball rebounded to him.

HALF TIME: Leyton Orient 0 AFC Telford United 0

The second half began with both sides now attacking the goal behind which their fans were gathered, and it was the Bucks followers who saw the first effort on goal. Dan Udoh, facing the imposing Marvin Ekpiteta, swayed this was and that to find room in the left channel before dragging a low shot wide of Brill’s far post.

The pattern of the first half continued, with most of the shots on goal coming from distance. McAnuff shot from an angle went wide past Wycherley’s far post, the O’s man vainly claiming a corner for a deflection. Daniels then conceded a free-kick for a foul on McAnuff, and the ball into the box, searching for Dan Happe at the far post, passed through the danger area for a goal-kick, Happe some distance from connecting. The breakthrough, however, was about to arrive.

On 54 minutes, the Bucks conceded an attacking throw, and from a ball into the box from the O’s right, Harrold beat Sutton to knock the ball down for Bonne to swivel and score low past Wycherley’s left-hand into the corner, White unable to block the effort. With the advantage, the home side started to look more confident as they went about their business. Jamie Turley won a corner off White down the right, and the delivery to the near post was met by Bonne; his header, however, went well wide of the post, Bonne’s contact too firm to require Wycherley to make a save.

Gavin Cowan made his second substitution, and replaced Morgan-Smith, who had found life difficult, with Andre Brown. He quickly got involved, helping to set up a crossing chance for Barnett, whose influence had waned, but the O’s dealt with the threat. They made a change of their own, replacing Gorman with the lively Josh Koroma, although his first act was to hurl himself theatrically to the floor, trying to win a free-kick; referee David Rock was unmoved.

The sense was that Orient manager Justin Edinburgh saw this as his side’s moment to try and take the tie away from the Bucks, and they started to knock on the door more frequently, but without really testing Wycherley. Brophy couldn’t direct a diving header at the far post after the O’s returned an initial cross cleared by Sutton. Koroma was busy making an impression, seeing a cross cleared, whilst at the other end, a rare Bucks foray saw Udoh squeezed out between two O’s defenders as he tried to go between them, his claims for a free-kick ignored.

That came with 15 minutes remaining, and although they didn’t abandon their defensive duties the Bucks found their second wind and sought a goal to take back to the New Buck’s Head. From a corner conceded by McAnuff after pressure from Barnett, Sutton won a back-post header and Brown’s close-range shot from the skipper’s knock-down was blocked low down. Sutton was to be at the heart of things for the next few minutes; from a corner won by Turley, the ball went to the far side of the box, and when Koroma retrieved the ball and cut inside to shoot, it was Sutton who blocked his effort. Then, from another O’s cross, a header back across goal that had Wycherley beaten looked set to drop in before Sutton seemed to change direction in mid-air to head the ball to safety.

Both sides ended the game looking for the goal to either kill the tie or set up the second leg, and McAnuff shot wide as he stumbled at the end of a surge into the penalty area. On 84 minutes, the Bucks almost profited from some nervy Orient defensive work; a free-kick retrieved by Brown was played into the box and with the ball cleared only to Knights on the edge of the area he took a touch before his low shot, which he tried to place into the corner, was blocked by Craig Clay. Goalkeeper Brill, who had been prone on the floor, saw the ball fortuitously land within feet of him, and gratefully grasped it to his midriff.

It was to be the last real opportunity of a game which neither side ever looked completely in control of, and that in itself offers some promise to the Bucks for the second leg. They had coped with the majority of what the O’s could muster, digging in resolutely when the National League table-toppers had looked to be gaining the upper hand, and must feel that the opportunity of a Wembley final is still very much there to be claimed.

Leyton Orient: Brill, Ling (Coulson 45), McAnuff (c), Clay, Bonne, Happe, Brophy, Gorman (Koroma 66), Harrold (Dayton 80), Ekpiteta, Turley.

Unused Substitutes: Sargeant, Alabi.

Scorers: Bonne (54).

Bookings: None.

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