TON-UP MIKE HAS SHOCKER
MICHAEL Appleton’s centenary game in charge of Oxford United will be one he won’t want to remember, as his side lost to a Jobi McAnuff strike.
McAnuff struck in his first start since coming back from injury, but Orient fans were left with a bittersweet taste when Mathieu Baudry was shown a straight red card to make for a cagey finish.
Oxford remain in second place despite a fourth home defeat since the turn of the year.
And boss Appleton believes his side’s promotion push remains firmly in their own hands, despite recent results having no doubt buoyed the chasing pack.
“I completely believe that it is about what we do, and not what other teams do around us,” he said.
“And we should make sure that is the case right up until the last day of the season.
“I think they came here with a game plan and you have to give respect to the opposition when they execute it that well.
“You never have a God-given right to win a football match, but as a manager you have an expectation of levels of energy and excitement from your players which we lacked up until we conceded. It wasn’t good enough.”
Player-manager Kevin Nolan’s Orient side are still unbeaten away from Brisbane Road during his tenure.
And the Orient boss felt the red card shown to Baudry was a harsh one.
“I must admit I don’t think it was a red card,” he said. “We will analyse it, but I was very surprised when I saw the red card and it is something that I hope we are going to appeal against.
“After last week’s disappointment I asked the lads for a reaction and I got that and every one of them were fantastic.
“I think it was a well-deserved victory.We carved out some good chances and it could have been three or four, but we’ve got to get that ruthlessness going away from home.”
The closest either team came to breaking the stalemate in the first half was through Orient defender Shaun Brisley’s close-range header on 40 minutes, which was cleared away in a goalmouth scramble.
Visiting stopper Alex Cisak was called into action for the first time on the hour mark, diving to parry in-form Kemar Roofe’s drilled free-kick to safety.
At the other end Armand Gnanduillet was slotted in by Nolan on 70 minutes but couldn’t lift his shot over keeper Benjamin Buchel.
Two minutes later a Gnanduillet pull-back found Sean Clohessy who was gifted two golden opportunities to fire Orient ahead, but wasted both, firing straight into a group of U’s defenders.
Clohessy redeemed himself moments later though, crossing for the returning McAnuff who took a touch before calmly finishing into the bottom corner.
Liam Sercombe saw a last-ditch drive go agonisingly wide as Oxford pushed for a late leveller.
And French defender Baudry had a moment of madness in stoppage time, scything through Roofe for his second red card of the season but O’s held firm.