Two goals in as many second-half minutes secured Leyton Orient an opening day victory over Barnet at the Matchroom Stadium.
Following a goalless first-half, the O’s dominated after the break and took a deserved lead with just over 15 minutes remaining when Jay Simpson crashed home a volley from a Dean Cox cross, before Paul McCallum reacted quickest to double Orient’s lead two minutes later and hand Ian Hendon his first win as Orient Head Coach.
Hendon was taking charge of his first competitive match since his appointment back in May, and just before kick-off the new O’s Head Coach was introduced to the fans on the pitch alongside Chief Executive Alessandro Angelieri and President Francesco Becchetti.
For the first match of the season Orient lined up in a 4-4-2 diamond formation, which had been used in pre-season victories at Colchester and Southend, as five summer signings made their competitive debut for the Club, including the O’s top scorer in pre-season Paul McCallum who passed a late fitness test.
Following a frantic start to the tie Orient fans thought they had seen their first goal of the 2015-16 campaign when Lloyd James played a ball over the top for Paul McCallum to go clean through.
The 22-year old had been in scintillating form for the O’s during the season but was unable to open his account as he spotted Bees stopper Graham Stack off his line but saw his lob drop just wide.
Barnet were keen to make a good impression following their return to the Football League and it was the visitors who really should have taken the lead on the 15th minute through Michael Gash.
John Akinde was causing all sorts of problems for the O’s defence and managed to dispossess Mathieu Baudry on the corner of the penalty area.
The Bees striker then pulled the ball back across the six-yard line, which fell to the feet of Gash who to everyone’s amazement dragged his shot wide of the post.
Orient were struggling to cause Stack many problems in the Barnet goal during the opening period and the closest the hosts came to taking the lead was when Jay Simpson received a pass from Sean Clohessy inside the box before bending his shot over the bar.
Despite the chance Akinde was continuing to be a thorn in the O’s defence and moments later the powerful striker managed to get through one-on-one with Alex Cisak but the O’s keeper reacted well to first force him wide and then save his initial effort before captain Curtis Weston sent a header over.
That was to be as close as either side was to come to finding the breakthrough however as they went into the interval all square.
Following the restart Orient started brightly as they controlled possession and McCallum nearly puts Ian Hendon’s side ahead when Simpson’s shot was parried to the side by Stack but the O’s striker could only poke the rebound into the side-netting under pressure from Bondz N’Gala.
Soon after it was another of Orient’s summer recruits who came close as Frazer Shaw’s cross towards the back-post was touched back by McCallum into the path of Clohessy who failed to keep his volley on target.
Orient were continuing to push forward and a minute alter Bradley Pritchard got on the end of another Shaw cross but could only head straight into the hands of Stack.
With just over 20 minutes left to play the O’s then worked a wonderful chance as Dean Cox combined well with Pritchard on the right before picking out the run of Simpson inside the box, Simpson reacted sharply to get to the pass first before dragging a shot just wide of the far post.
Cox was continuing to be at the heart of every Orient attack and with 73 minutes on the clock, the hosts finally took the lead.
After receiving a pass down the right, Cox took the ball to the byline before picking out Simpson on the penalty spot who then expertly rifled a shot beyond the reach of Stack.
Having waited what felt like an eternity for the breakthrough goal, Orient then doubled their lead two minutes later when McCallum carried on his fine pre-season campaign.
Much like the first, Orient attacked down the right and Clohessy delivered a teasing ball towards the head of the O’s forward. Despite not managing to get a clean header away, McCallum then reacted first to smash in the loose ball from close range as the O’s claimed their first points of the 2015-16 season.
ORIENT: Cisak, Clohessy, Baudry (C), Essam, Shaw, James, Pritchard, Moore (Dunne 84), Cox, Simpson (Turgott 88), McCallum (Palmer 90+5)
SUBS: Woods, Ling, Moncur, Kashket
GOALS: Simpson (73), McCallum (75)
BOOKINGS: Baudry (43), McCallum (67), James (70)
BARNET: Stack, Hoyte (Gambin 81), N’Gala, Dembele, Johnson, Yiadom, Togwell, Weston (C), Vilhete (Muggleton 66), Gash (Stevens 87), Akinde
SUBS: Stephens, Nelson, Champion, Batt
BOOKINGS: Akinde (58)
ATTENDANCE: 6,151 (905)