Orient made it three wins in a row and back-to-back wins at the Matchroom Stadium after a 4-1 win over Barrow AFC on Saturday afternoon.
An early Luke James goal for Barrow was cancelled out by a Dan Jones own goal late in the second half, before a second-half strikes from Josh Koroma and a late Macauley Bonne brace bagged all three points for the O's.
Head Coach Justin Edinburgh made one change to the side who began the 1-3 victory at Guiseley in the O’s previous league encounter on Good Friday. Dan Holman missed out through injury meaning David Mooney paired with Macauley Bonne in attack as the O’s lined up in a 4-4-2 formation.
In the reverse fixture against Barrow on October 7th, the O’s were held to a 2-2 draw at Holker Street. Mooney gave us the lead on 19 minutes before Bedsente Gomis equalised for the hosts. Craig Clay restored our advantage with 27 minutes played only for Jordan White to level the game before the break.
After a minute’s applause for former O’s player Ray Wilkins, who sadly passed away this week, Barrow got the game underway but were quickly on the back foot as Orient tried to break down the visiting defence early on. After just two minutes, the ball dropped kindly for James Brophy inside the area but he was sharply crowded out as he shaped to shoot.
Despite a positive start from the O’s, it was the visitors who opened the scoring on six minutes against the run of play. Dan Jones’ teasing cross from the left found Luke James at the near post who guided his header past Dean Brill in the Orient goal much to the delight of the travelling supporters.
At the other end, Orient began their quest for an equaliser and came close when the ball fell nicely for Josh Coulson who struck his effort over the crossbar from close range. Meanwhile, Barrow were using Jones’ long throw to good effect which caused concern within the O’s defence.
On 18 minutes, Ebou Adams showed great tenacity to retrieve possession in the midfield before driving forward and stinging the palms of Steve Arnold in the visiting goal. Then, some good interplay saw Jobi McAnuff pick out Bonne who could not connect with the ball inside the area.
Orient were forced into their first change of the afternoon on 25 minutes when Josh Coulson limped off and was replaced by Marvin Ekpiteta for his home debut. Moments later, the O’s thought they had equalised when McAnuff squared for Bonne to tap-in only to be denied by the offside flag.
However, Orient grabbed their equaliser shortly after when McAnuff’s corner was flicked on by Bonne whose effort went in off Jones to level the game at 1-1 before the half hour mark. Soon after, Barrow were awarded a free kick in a dangerous position but Brill was alert to push Calum MacDonald’s curling effort behind.
For a short spell, the game had turned scrappy with neither side able to sustain a spell of possession as they both went in search of a second goal before half-time. It was Orient who came closest to taking the lead with two chances going amiss. First, McAnuff forced Arnold into a flying save from a well-taken free-kick before the Barrow keeper held onto Mooney’s angled header.
At half-time, Orient were left to reflect on a good response having fallen behind in the early stages. They were creating chances and carving out opportunities but would need to be more clinical in front of goal in the second half.
It was a quiet start to the second half, but on 57 minutes Barrow came close to re-taking the lead only for Sam Ling to brilliantly deny Nathan Waterston with a last-ditch block in the centre of the goal.
There were relatively few chances of note until the 68th minute when McAnuff came inside before drilling a low shot towards goal that was comfortably dealt with by Arnold. Then, the O’s made their second substitution of the game with Mooney being replaced by Josh Koroma with twenty minutes remaining.
Then, on 71 minutes the O’s got their noses in front when George Elokobi flicked the ball into the path of Koroma who nodded home moments after coming on to give the O’s a 2-1 lead.
With just under fifteen minutes remaining, Barrow were reduced to ten men when Jones was dismissed for a second bookable offence. Soon after, Orient raced up the other end with Koroma who went down in the box only for the referee to wave away the resulting penalty claims.
Orient could have sealed the victory with four minutes remaining but Craig Clay angled his effort wide of the mark from the edge of the box. On the next attack, Brophy and Bonne combined brilliantly inside the area for the latter to pass the ball into the corner of the net and give Orient a 3-1 lead.
For the final moments, Lamar Reynolds came on to replace Clay. The O’s had a hunger for further goals and bagged a fourth in stoppage time when Joe Widdowson’s cross from the by-line was met by Bonne who headed home his second of the afternoon to make sure of back-to-back home wins and all three points for Orient.
ORIENT: Brill, Widdowson, Elokobi, McAnuff (C), Bonne, Mooney (Koroma 69’), Coulson (Ekpiteta 25’), Clay (Reynolds 90’), Brophy, Adams, Ling.
SUBS: Grainger, Judd.
BOOKED: Adams (33’)
GOALS: Jones OG (28’), Koroma (71’), Bonne (89’, 90+3’)
BARROW: Arnold (C), Jones, James, Diarra, MacDonald, White (Holt 56’), Waterston (Fitzpatrick 70’), Barthram, Gomis (Walters 83’), James, Cook.
SUBS: Hall, Makoma.
BOOKED: Jones (66’), Gomis (74’), MacDonald (85’)
GOALS: James (6’)
SENT OFF: Jones (77’)
REFEREE: Gary Parsons
ATTENDANCE: 3,979 (163 Barrow)