Credit: Simon O’Connor
Declan McCarthy provides an in-depth analysis as the O’s grab a home victory with a late winner.
Leyton Orient moved back into the playoff places with a slender 1-0 victory at home to 10-man Morecambe.
An 80th minute Ryan Edwards own goal was all that separated the two sides, but it looked set to be a frustrating day for the O’s who saw a first-half penalty saved as well as being denied by a combination of the woodwork and a spectacular goalkeeping display from substitute Keiran O’Hara, after first-choice stopper Barry Roche had been sent off on the 12th minute.
1. Simpson needs to get back to scoring ways
It is clear that the main man at Orient is finding it hard to net at the Matchroom Stadium. Fans have to go back as far as late November to find a goal scored by Simpson from open play on home turf. Away from home, it’s a different story. The former Arsenal striker has scored six goals in his last eight away league matches for the O’s and it’s no coincidence that Orient boast the league’s fifth best away form from the last 10 matches.
Simpson has only managed two goals in his last 10 league matches for the O’s, which will certainly bother the man who has netted 23 goals – the most times in League Two this season.
Despite all this Simpson did have a good overall performance and linked up well with Armand Gnanduillet. The striker even could have even netted a penalty but was denied by goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara.
2. Bright return from James
Following his injury back in December, Lloyd James retuned against Morecambe to end a run of three months on the sidelines. Looking sharp and poised for a strong comeback, the midfielder, who played as a pivot in the diamond formation (4-1-2-1-2) having entered the field of play at half-time. It was a good way for Orient to show they have a Plan B and can play different systems in tricky times.
The switch from a traditional 4-4-2 to the diamond formation meant Morecambe had more to deal with through the middle, which also allowed full backs Nicky Hunt & Binnom-Williams with loads of time and space to deliver crosses into the box, which ultimately lead to Orient taking all three points home.
3. Morecambe show a lack of firepower
It was a poor attacking performance from Morecambe who failed to register a single shot on target – until the 92nd minute.
The Shrimps have only managed four goals in their last six away games, and it wasn’t a surprise given the lack of power upfront on show at the Matchroom Stadium.
At home Morecambe are a different side; scoring eight in their last six home games. Morecambe boss Jim Bentley just needs to find a way to score away from home, and once his team overcomes that obstacle they will look a lot more promising and could boast a strong finish in League Two.
4. O’Hara almost denies the O’s
One shining light for the visitors was 19-year-old goalkeeper Kieran O’Hara, who entered the pitch as a substitute after Barry Roche was sent off for bringing down Simpson in the penalty area on the 12th minute.
It was only O’Hara’s second professional game for Morecambe but he couldn’t have started it any better as he saved the penalty to the despair of Simpson.
The Manchester United loanee had a consistent solid game denying Gnanduillet, Jerome Binnom-Williams and Ollie Palmer, and was unfortunate to not take home a clean sheet as an own goal flashed passed him and into his own net. Despite this the young goalkeeper certainly produced a fine professional performance when his team needed him most.
5. Resolute Orient
It was another defensively sound performance for Orient. More pleasing was the instant solidarity that new loanee signing Peter Ramage and Shaun Brisley showed throughout the game. With more game time together will they get a better understanding of one another.
The 1-0 win over Morecambe was the O’s seventh clean sheet from 11 games under player-manager Kevin Nolan.
Now only six points off the automatic promotion places, having a strong balanced defence in the latter stages of the season will be key for the O’s and could be crucial come the end of the season as the race for promotion intensifies.