A stunning team goal and an emphatic strike from Jake Caprice ensured the O’s ran out 2-1 winners at Billericay Town this afternoon.
Macauley Bonne headed home the opener following a lovely passing move on the seventh minute, and the O’s looked full value for their lead as Caprice smashed home a second midway through the first half having showed great composure to break into the area.
Sam Deering then pulled a goal back for the hosts with a header, but the O’s went into the break a goal to the good.
With exactly a week to go until the O’s opening day trip to Sutton United, Head Coach Steve Davis named a strong starting XI for the trip to the AGP Arena, with latest signing Josh Coulson partnering George Elokobi in the centre of defence.
One absentee however was that of First Team Captain Charlie Lee, who missed out due to a knee injury, meaning David Mooney took the armband in his absence.
Following kick-off, rain started to fall but the O’s didn’t let the weather conditions prevent a fast start to the match as Jobi McAnuff’s free-kick wide of the far post.
With seven minutes played Macauley Bonne then continued his impressive form in pre-season, by notching the opener and his fourth of the summer.
Having initially started out on the left, Orient worked the ball brilliantly across to the right and Romuald Boco was then on hand to spot the run of Jake Caprice who clipped a lovely cross into the area for Bonne to rise high and head beyond the Billericay goalkeeper.
The move for the goal was brilliant to watch, and David Mooney had a wonderful chance to double our advantage four minutes later when teed up by Bonne, but the forward could only place his shot over the bar.
The O’s looked to be controlling the play, and with 27 minutes on the clock doubled their lead through a moment of brilliance from Caprice.
The full-back had been a constant outlet on the right, and took the ball well in his stride before playing a neat one-two with Boco to get in the area. Having held off the challenge of a defender, Caprice then unleashed an unstoppable shot which crashed in off the post.
Despite having a two-goal advantage, the O’s allowed Billericay to grow into the game in the final stages of the half as Jermaine Pennant saw a free-kick brilliantly pushed behind by Charlie Grainger.
With six minutes of the half remaining Billericay then pulled a goal back, as midfielder Sam Deering headed beyond Grainger after the O’s had failed to deal a cross into the box.
Following the interval, the O’s fielded the same XI for the start of the second half and almost claimed a third early on as Craig Clay’s low shot from 25-yards flashed wide of the post.
Soon after Bonne had a chance to claim his second having been released down the right, but despite breaking into the area his left-footed strike was parried for a corner.
Grainger then had to be alert to push a Deering volley behind, and from the ensuing corner the hosts were denied by the woodwork as a header took a deflection and hit the post.
Deering was then presented with another chance to equalise on the hour, but after taking the touch the midfielder found himself crowded out as his shot was deflected wide of the post.
With the final 20 minutes approaching, McAnuff saw a free-kick pushed over the bar before midfielder Alex Lawless was presented with a chance from the corner, only to see his shot deflected behind.
Billericay then looked to have levelled the tie on the 72nd minute as substitute Jake Robinson got up well to direct a header beyond the reach of Grainger, but the forward’s effort also came back off the post before being clawed away by the Orient defence.
Seven minutes later it was then the O’s time to be denied by the woodwork, as Trialist B’s free-kick left the goalkeeper rooted to the spot before clipping the post and going behind for a goal kick.
George Elokobi appeared to have wrapped up the victory on the 83rd minute, but despite connecting well with a shot in the area the defender’s shot came back off an Orient man on the line.
Billericay continued to push forward in search of an equaliser, and Robinson was presented with two great chances in close succession but could only direct both attempts wide of the far post.
The late chances proved to be costly for the hosts as Orient saw out the closing stages to record a 2-1 victory at the AGP Arena.
The O’s bring their pre-season schedule to a close on Tuesday night when we host Arsenal U23s at the Matchroom Stadium.
ORIENT: Grainger, Caprice, Coulson, Elokobi, Widdowson, Lawless, Clay, Boco (Trialist B 62), McAnuff, Mooney (C), Bonne
SUBS: Sargeant, Trialist A, Clark, McLean, Judd, Ochieng, Koroma
GOALS: Bonne (7), Caprice (27)
BOOKINGS: Widdowson (29)