HEN­DON: O’S STRUCK DOWN BY THE CURSE

The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By Matt Bam­sey

IAN Hen­don watched his Ley­ton Ori­ent side’s per­fect start to the sea­son fall to pieces at Ex­eter – and then blamed the crush­ing de­feat on his man­ager of the month award.

Ori­ent, who were rel­e­gated from League One last sea­son, had al­ready made a state­ment of their pro­mo­tion in­tent thanks to five straight wins at the start of the cam­paign.

But from the mo­ment Ex­eter striker Tom Ni­chols was sent sprawl­ing by debu­tant keeper Char­lie Grainger for an early penalty, the writ­ing was on the wall.

Ni­chols con­verted from the spot be­fore Alex Ni­cholls dou­bled their lead with a fierce strike.

Ni­chols dis­patched his sec­ond penalty af­ter the break and David Wheeler made it four but O’s boss Hen­don is con­fi­dent his side will bounce back when they travel to Cam­bridge United next week­end.

He groaned: “The man­ager of the month curse struck big time here, so I am to blame for the re­sult.

“We have had a fan­tas­tic run and it has come to an end. It is my job to keep the play­ers’ heads up.

“We are go­ing to bounce back and show our char­ac­ter. The lads are very dis­ap­pointed and now we need to put it right.

“The de­feat was fair and square – they took their chances and we didn’t. We had a lot of pos­ses­sion of the ball and didn’t work their keeper nearly enough. I don’t think 4-0 was a fair re­flec­tion of what went on, but that is football.”

Ori­ent came fly­ing out of the traps but some­how found them­selves be­hind af­ter five min­utes.

Grainger, who was re­plac­ing Alex Cisak af­ter his call-up by Aus­tralia, came rac­ing off his line and sent Ni­chols plung­ing to the deck and the Ex­eter striker tucked the spot-kick into the bot­tom cor­ner.

The hosts sur­vived a dou­ble scare af­ter Troy Brown made a last­ditch headed clear­ance to deny Paul McCal­lum.

Mo­ments later Matt Oak­ley was in the right place at the right time to head Jay Simp­son’s ef­fort off the line, but the home side soaked up the pres­sure and dou­bled their lead.

Ryan Har­ley’s cor­ner came back to the midfielder and he pulled the ball back to the edge of the box where Ni­cholls took one touch and ri­fled an un­stop­pable shot past Grainger.

Hopes of an Ori­ent come­back evap­o­rated af­ter the break when Alan Dunne bun­dled into the back of Wheeler to present Ex­eter with their sec­ond penalty of the match.

Ni­chols drove the spot-kick straight down the mid­dle to make it three goals for the sea­son.

Har­ley then un­leashed a blis­ter­ing ef­fort from the edge of the box that can­noned back off the cross­bar and Grainger was quick off his line to deny Ni­cholls from the re­bound.

The home side poured fur­ther salt into Ori­ent wounds on 77 min- utes af­ter Grainger pulled off a smart save to deny Har­ley only for Wheeler to steer the re­bound into the bot­tom cor­ner.

Ex­eter boss Paul Tisdale said:“It was an em­phatic win against the league lead­ers, but it was a re­ally tough game. I am not sure the score­line does jus­tice to the op­po­si­tion, they were the best side we have faced so far. We had a very sim­ple task and that was de­fend­ing against a very good at­tack­ing team and we took our chances. Goals are al­limpor­tant in football and I guess we got away from them.

“But we saw a very good game of football against a very good Ori­ent team and I’ll be sur­prised if they aren’t near the top at the end of the sea­son.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

HELP­LESS: Ley­ton Ori­ent’s Char­lie Grainger and Mathieu Baudry look on as David Wheeler’s – out of shot – ef­fort makes it 4-0 to Ex­eter City

STAR MAN TOM NI­CHO

LS Ex­eter

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