CAVALRY SAVE O’S BLUSHES
THREE substitutes combined to snatch a point for Leyton Orient against fellow promotion chasers Oxford, and O’s boss Ian Hendon believes the comeback could be a turning point for his side.
Oxford surged into a two-goal, half-time lead, but substitutes Jack Payne and Ollie Palmer created Jay Simpson’s goal and fellow sub Scott Kashket slotted in an injury-time equaliser.
Hendon said: “I’m really pleased with the attitude of the players in the second half, especially the subs that came on. Payne was excellent. He controlled the game. Palmer, the big man, did what he’s up there to do.
“That could be a pivotal one. We’ve come back from the dead. No-one was expecting that. We deserved the few boos we got at half-time, but second-half they were on their feet cheering.
“Obviously we want to win games, but we were as disappointed as the fans at half-time and as elated as them when we came off.”
Orient went behind after dealing poorly with Jordan Graham’s cross. Having cleared a corner back to Graham, its taker, Mathieu Baudry messed up the second cross to present an unmissable, three-yard tap-in to Kemar Roofe.
The score was doubled when the tireless Liam Sercombe stole possession and fed John Lundstram, whose shot was deflected over Alex Cisak.
The second goal was unfortunate for Orient, but the half-time scoreline was not, as Oxford’s youthful front six zipped around Orient’s defence with Graham, Sercombe and Roofe especially impressive.
A double half-time switch initially bore little fruit for Orient, but Palmer headed a long ball from Payne into Simpson’s path and League Two’s top scorer poked it home via Sam Slocombe’s weak hand.
The goal was simple in its conception, superb in its execution and game-changing in its impact.
Three minutes later Graham was booked for kicking the ball away, soon after his first yellow. The talented Wolves loanee has a bright future, but his dismissal was brainless.
Kashket, the third substitute, grabbed a point with his first senior goal that Graham’s teammates little deserved, his 20-yard, 91st-minute strike slipping in via the post.
Oxford manager Michael Appleton said:“You don’t get your three points finishes.
“With the substitutes they made at half-time we knew they’d get a lot of balls into the box and we knew we’d have to defend well.
“What we didn’t read in the script was being down to ten men. Graham’s a young player and young players are going to be immature at times and they don’t have the experience to deal with certain situations.
“I felt we’d weathered the storm
until the game and then they got their first goal.
“The centre-backs will be beating themselves up about that one. We’d conceded the joint-lowest number of goals before today and I don’t see us going and conceding a load of goals.”