Cambridge United were knocked off the summit of Sky Bet League One after Leyton Orient secured a spirited 2-0 victory at Brisbane Road...
Piling pressure on from the get go, the hosts capitalised on a strong start through Shaq Forde - before finding a second during the torrential conditions in the second half thanks to Theo Archibald’s calm finish, as Mark Bonner’s men were consigned to their second defeat of the campaign.
Oozing with confidence, the early leaders had built up steam thanks to three resolute victories – which had confirmed their best start to a season since joining the Football League. A different type of test awaited them in the newly-promoted O’s, who were hunting their first win in the third tier.
Following the determined victory against Bristol Rovers a week earlier, the Head Coach sticked with a trusted formula by naming just the sole change to his XI. Dropping out of the matchday squad, Elias Kachunga was replaced by Sullay Kaikai – who was primed to make his first start since re-joining in the summer. Elsewhere, a youthful bench saw the involvement of Mamadou Jobe and Glenn McConnell for the first time in 2023/24.
An energetic start from the hosts saw them conjure up the first opportunity on the 5th minute when Theo Archibald drove forwards down the left and drilled a teasing shot across goal which was whiskers wide of the right post and an onrushing Forde.
Forcing United to camp back and remain compact, the O’s were winning the ball well in the middle of the park, with former U Idris El Mizouni pulling the strings in their early domination of possession.
Full-back Thomas James tested his luck with a speculative attempt after picking his spot on 22, but it blazed wide of Jack Stevens’ right post.
Deadlock was broken on the stroke of the half an hour mark when a deep cross from the right wing was matched by Jordan Graham, who forced an exceptional goal line clearance from Liam Bennett, only to fall to a looming Forde who nestled into the roof of the net from a matter of yards.
Under the cosh, the U’s were almost dealt another sucker punch two minutes later when Archibald rattled the crossbar from 20 yards, before play dissipated to allow the visitors to regroup.
Bar a ferocious shot from Jack Lankester, which was well caught by an alert Sol Brynn, the U’s simply could not find a response – with the attempts petering out as the break approached.
With the rain teeming down, Bonner’s men endeavoured to grab a leveller and almost did just that seconds after the interval when Kaikai cut inside and pulled the trigger from the edge of the box, which was tipped away for a corner from Brynn.
The tide couldn’t turn from here, with the U’s having to deal with another storm on the pitch, as opposed to the thunder and lightning off it. On 55, Archibald’s intended cross looped over Stevens, clashed against the crossbar and bounced on the line before falling out of danger.
Archibald made no mistake in the next attack after he was put through in a one-on-one position by James and emphatically fired past Stevens to extend the advantage.
This cued a triple substitution for United, with Harrison Dunk, Lewis Simper and Fejiri Okenabirhie being introduced to the fold, before McConnell came on for his league debut for the club with 20 minutes to play.
Keeping their tails up, Orient continued to attack in their numbers and had proven to be an unplayable opponent in many stages of the match.
Time unfortunately ran out for the U’s, who for the first time this campaign were unable to find the net despite a late foray which saw Simper and then McConnell’s venomous strikes from outside of the penalty area cleared in added time.
Next up, the Sky Sports cameras come to town in nine days’ time (Monday 4th September) as United host third tier newcomers Reading – be sure to get behind the boys.
Leyton Orient: Brynn, Galbraith, Happe, Turns, James, Brown (Pratley, 86’), El Mizouni, Graham (Moncur, 78’), Sotoriou, Archibald, Forde (Pigott, 82’)
Subs Not Used: Howes, Beckles, Obiero, Hunt
Goalscorers: Forde (28’), Archibald (56’)
Bookings: Galbraith, Graham, Archibald, James
Cambridge United: Stevens. L. Bennett, R. Bennett, Morrison, Andrew (Dunk, 63’), Digby, Thomas (Simper, 63’), Brophy, Lankester (McConnell, 71’), Kaikai (Okenabirhie, 63’), Ahadme
Subs Not Used: Holden, Ibsen Rossi, Jobe
Bookings: Andrew, Ahadme, Simper, Okenabirhie
Referee: Stephen Martin
Attendance: 8266 (1243 away fans)