O's fall to late defeat in pre-season opener
Leyton Orient started their pre-season programme with a defeat as Braintree ran out 2-1 victors in Ian Hendon’s first game as O’s head coach.
Orient claimed a first half lead through Paul McCallum’s close range finish but were pegged back by Kenny Davis’ 35th minute penalty, before substitute Sean Marks headed home the Iron's winner with two minutes remaining.
Three of the O’s summer signings lined up for the first half and it was two of new boys that combined in the opening minutes as Blair Turgott’s cross from the right was headed goalwards by Paul McCallum but his effort was held by Nathan McDonald.
Chez Isaac picked up a loose pass from Mathieu Baudry and drove towards the edge of the box but he could only fire a tame effort into the hands of Gary Woods.
Lloyd James came close to opening the scoring several minutes latter as a ball into the box from Turgott was headed into the midfielder’s path but his shot was headed behind for a corner.
The O’s were dominating the early proceedings and with 18 minutes on the clock they took a deserved lead when McCallum slid in to divert a Dean Cox shot into the net from close range.
Woods was then called to action soon after as Braintree’s skipper Kenny Davis tried his luck from outside the box, but the O’s stopper was equal to the attempt and parried it behind for a corner.
Despite Orient having taken the lead it was the hosts who grew into the tie and it was Michael Cheek who came close for the Iron next as he saw his powerful strike drop just wide.
Having weathered the brief storm, Orient responded with a chance of their own as Cox stung the hands of McDonald with a strike from 25-yards before Mathieu Baudry headed the resulting corner over the bar.
With ten minutes of half remaining Braintree were then awarded a penalty as Cheek went down under the challenge of an Orient trialist. Iron skipper Davis stepped up to take the kick and slotted it low to his left to level the score.
During the break Hendon rang the changes, as he made no less than 10 alterations to the side that saw the O’s latest recruit Ollie Palmer partner Scott Kashket in attack.
Jay Simpson had a couple of half-chances for the O’s soon after the restart but it was Braintree who had the first real chance of the half just after the hour mark. Jordan Cox rose highest from a corner but Charlie Grainger managed to get down in time to smother the effort.
With 15 minutes remaining Orient saw penalty appeals of their own waved away as Sandro Semedo’s cross towards the back post was touched down by Kashket and appeared to hit an arm but any claims were quickly dismissed.
Grainger was then forced into making two impressive saves in quick succession as he first denied Sean Marks as he closed in on goal before holding on to a Cox header from close range.
As the game entered the final 10 minutes Palmer nearly worked a chance for himself as he plucked the ball out of the air on the edge of the penalty area but the O’s striker was denied by a last-ditch challenge before Semedo sliced the loose ball wide.
Despite the game looking destined to end in a draw it was the hosts who managed to edge in front as Marks latched on to Billy Gibson’s cross towards the far post to head home an 88th minute winner.
ORIENT FIRST HALF XI: Woods, Clohessy, Baudry (C), Trialist, Trialist, Turgott, James, Cox, Trialist, McCallum, Trialist
GOALS: McCallum (18)
ORIENT SECOND HALF XI: Grainger, Pritchard, Clarke (C), Trialist (Ling 61), Lee, Semedo, Moore, Trialist, Simpson, Kashket, Palmer