HENDON: O’S STRUCK DOWN BY THE CURSE
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.”
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