Johnstone’s Paint Trophy quarter-final: Stevenage 3-2 Leyton Orient
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO
A horror first half defensive show knocked Leyton Orient out of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy at Stevenage.
New signing Robbie Simpson started on the bench, but could have made himself a hero after he came on in stoppage time - he headed wide from Lloyd James’ cross, which would have taken the game to penalties.
He was joined by joint top scorer Kevin Lisbie, but it’s in defence where the O’s problems lay - three goals were conceded in the first quarter of an hour.
Orient were behind within two minutes in the southern section quarter-final, Francois Zoko’s shot looping into the net off the unfortunate Elliott Omozusi.
The striker claimed the goal but it might be one for the dubious goals committee, judging by the reaction of the O’s defender.
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Things went from bad to worse 10 minutes later at the Lamex Stadium. After former Brisbane Road stalwart Jimmy Smith had cleared off the line from Shaun Batt, Stevenage raced up the other end and doubled their lead.
A cross from former Chelsea trainee Filipe Morais was expertly finished by Lucas Akins.
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Midfielder Romain Vincelot was suspended and Frankie Sutherland has returned to parent club QPR after rupturing his cruciate ligament in the FA Cup win against Southport on Saturday as Orient’s performance was unrecognisable.
The visitors were struggling but top scorer David Mooney reduced the arrears on 13 minutes, Batt’s cross was half cleared and the Irish striker showed his confidence by volleying into the bottom corner.
Just when the O’s thought they were back in the game, the home side were awarded a penalty when Omozusi handballed a shot from Luke Freeman - the defender’s evening going from bad to worse.
Morais’s spot kick squeezed past Jamie Jones into the bottom corner, and it sparked a defensive reshuffle for the visitors.
Omozusi moved into the centre, Moses Odubajo went to right back and Gary Sawyer moved to centre back.
The Boro were still on top though and wanted another penalty when Freeman’s cross was blocked by Cuthbert, but referee James Adcock was unmoved.
He became the centre of attention eight minutes before half-time though when he reduced the home side to 10 men.
Batt, who started his career at Stevenage, raced clear down the right and was tripped by Roarie Deacon, a late replacement for captain Jon Ashton who injured himself in the warm-up.
Adcock deemed Deacon the last man and brandished the red card.
The O’s were given a further lifeline in stoppage time when Stockley was floored in the area by a strong challenge.
The referee pointed to the spot for the second time in the half. After a lengthy delay for Stevenage protests, James reduced the arrears to make it 3-2.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Stevenage still offered a goal threat as Orient’s defence continued to struggle.
Zoko had a goal disallowed for a foul on Omozusi while Michael Doughty flashed a shot over.
Mooney and Marvin Bartley brought the best out of Stevenage keeper Chris Day after the break, but they struggled to make the most of their man advantage.
Kevin Lisbie replaced usual strike partner Mooney in a surprise change with 20 minutes to go and Yohann Lasimant entered the fray in place of Batt, who was booed off the pitch.
Simpson came on for his debut with 11 minutes remaining but could not make much of an impact in his first competitive game since May and Stevenage held on to progress to the southern section semi-finals.
The O’s will have to concentrate on their League One promotion campaign and an FA Cup second round tie against Walsall next month.