Danny Senda took charge of the O’s in the absence of Head Coach Ross Embleton, who is currently self-isolating. Conor Wilkinson returned to start for Orient in place of Lee Angol, who dropped to the bench.
The U’s were first to create an opportunity; Hannant found Iredale in the left-hand channel, who fizzed a ball towards Mullin, who couldn’t quite connect with the ball with the goal beckoning.
Down the other end, Wilkinson took aim from 25-yards, but his stinging strike sailed over the crossbar. The same man was involved again shortly after, this time Harry Darling stood in-between Wilkinson and the net, and blocked his acrobatic volley.
Orient continued to dominate the opening stages of the match and looked most likely to open the scoring. Jobi McAnuff’s whipped corner was met by centre-back Dan Happe, who nodded the ball onto the roof of the net, after beating his man to the ball.
The O’s came forward again and took the lead after 23 minutes. McAnuff’s low cross into the area was spilled by the Cambridge ‘keeper, to the path of Danny Johnson who slid ahead of his marker and found the back of the net!
Assistant Head Coach Danny Senda will have been delighted with the way his team continued to press the opposition and seek a second goal before half-time. Josh Coulson and Conor Wilkinson both had good chances to score.
Following another set piece; the ball spun out to Coulson, who lashed at the ball with his left foot and fired wide. Soon after, Wilkinson dribbled past a number of defenders, cutting in from the right – but his eventual shot was punched away by Burton.
The Orient backline were reminded of Cambridge’s attacking threat ten minutes prior to half-time. Paul Mullin created space to strike at goal, but his attempt was comfortably dealt with by Lawrence Vigouroux.
Moments before the break, Callum Burton was called into action again. James Brophy’s in-swinging corner curled towards the goal at pace, however, The U’s shot-stopper did enough to turn the ball over and keep the score at 0-1. HT: Cambridge United 0-1 Leyton Orient
Mark Bonner’s team were much better following the restart and quickly flipped the game on its head to take a 2-1 lead. Former Norwich man Wes Hoolahan found the back of the net with his left foot to pull Cambridge level ten minutes into the second-half.
Just two minutes later, Paul Mullin had time and space in the penalty area, to pick his corner and put United ahead.
Orient were startled and were fortunate not to fall further behind when Taylor’s looping cross-cum-shot rattled the top of the bar
With 15 minutes to go, The O’s made a doubled substitution, introducing Lee Angol and Louis Dennis to the game, with Joe Widdowson and Ouss Cisse making way. Ruel Sotiriou was next to be brought on, as Conor Wilkinson came off.
Despite the offensive changes, Orient failed to produce in front of goal. The best opening came from a looping McAnuff cross, which was claimed on the goal line by the U’s ‘keeper, who was under pressure from Angol.
The away team stepped it up in the closing minutes of the match and put pressure on the Cambridge defence. Lee Angol’s shot was blocked by a man in yellow and Josh Coulson had a header saved, but the O’s couldn’t find an equaliser.
The U’s: Burton, Knoyle, Iredale (Davies 88’), Digby, Taylor, Darling, Hannant (Dunk 88’), Mullin (Knibbs 82’), Hoolahan, May, Ironside
BENCH: Mitov, Cundy, El Mizouni, Worman
GOALS: Hoolahan 55’ Mullin 57’
BOOKED: Hannant 33’ May 83’
The O’s: Vigouroux, Ling, Coulson, Happe, Widdowson (Dennis 75’), Cisse (Angol 75’), Clay (Maguire-Drew 86’), McAnuff, Wilkinson (Sotiriou 78’), Johnson, Brophy
BENCH: Sargeant, Dayton, Akinola
GOALS: Johnson 23’
BOOKED: Happe 63’