Sutton United
Leyton Orient

Ayunga 52

Happe 64, Bonne 90 pen

13 April 2019
Vanarama National League
Daniel Middleton
26 Jamie Butler H-T Worner
2 Dale Bennett
21 Roarie Deacon
25 Jon Barden
15 Craig Eastmond
19 Harry Beautyman
7 Tom Bolarinwa
33 James Dobson
28 Brett Williams
10 Jonah Ayunga
11 Dylan Kearney 65 Toure
1 Ross Worner
9 Gime Toure
12 Crossley Lema
30 Jude Mason
34 Neset Bellikli

At the end of an afternoon in which students of the unusual would have had a field day, Leyton Orient had regained the top spot in the National League of which Salford’s lunchtime win had briefly deprived them, thanks to Macauley Bonne’s nervelessly converted penalty in the last minute of normal time after a rare Ross Worner error had gifted him the chance. Orient’s win came despite playing the last twenty minutes with ten men after as bizarre a red card incident as most present will have seen, and with an injury to an assistant referee and a half time goalkeeping substitution also among the occurrences, there was plenty for the bumper crowd of 3,339 to discuss afterwards.

Defeat was harsh on Sutton, who saw the ill Dean Beckwith join Jamie Collins and Aswad Thomas on the sidelines, leaving Dale Bennett as the only recognised defender in the back four, where he was joined by Tom Bolarinwa, Roarie Deacon and Craig Eastmond, who had a fine game as an emergency centre half, and when early in the second half Jonah Ayunga looked to have spectacularly installed his name high on the list of reasons why Orient may not be champions, the lead was no more than U’s deserved. They were to end with nothing, though, and the play-off hopes that had been reignited by last week’s win at Boreham Wood had receded again to the mathematical rather than the realistic.

There was little sign in the first half of the drama that was to unfold, even though Orient had to make an early change when Dayton replaced the injured Sam Ling, and Josh Koroma and Dale Gorman were both booked inside the first quarter of the game. Orient seemed on edge, Gorman almost not noticing his card as he complained to the team mate who had sold him short with a pass, and U’s makeshift defence dealt comfortably with any threat, although at the other end they had equally little impact on the Orient defence. Eastmond met a long James Dobson throw with a header that was blocked, and Ayunga outjumped Brill to meet a cross but could not direct his header, but it was at the other end that the deadlock came closest to being broken as Koroma cut in from the left and sent in a shot from just outside the penalty area that was heading for the far corner until Jamie Butler intervened brilliantly to tip the ball round the post.

It was to be Butler’s last significant involvement, as he succumbed to back and groin injuries at half time and was replaced by Worner, and within two minutes of the second half starting the casualty list was added to as assistant referee Jon Block fell awkwardly and hurt his knee after a collision with Bonne and Eastmond as they contested a ball by the touchline. Reserve official Chris Myatt took the flag and former Football League referee Phil Gibbs, attending the game in his capacity as FA Coach, stepped in as reserve.

The next action was thrilling, though, as a sublime piece of control by Harry Beautyman began a move that ended with Ayunga, whose goal had so shocked Orient at Brisbane Road in September, cutting in from the left as he had done on that occasion and thumping an unstoppable shot beyond Brill. It was a shame for Ayunga that goal of the season voting had closed a day earlier, and he wasn’t even to be allowed the satisfaction of being the match winner against Orient for a second time. After Beautyman had gone close to doubling the lead when he just failed to connect with a Dobson cross, Bennett was penalised midway inside the Sutton half, and when Koroma floated in the free kick Worner decided to come off his line to claim it but was beaten to the ball by Dan Happe, whose header looped in to the unguarded net.

Ten minutes later Dayton suffered what he knew immediately was a serious ankle injury in a midfield challenge, and in his frustration threw his boot in the direction of referee Daniel Middleton while he was being treated. After waiting for the stricken Dayton to be placed on a stretcher, the official showed him a red card, and the confusion was heightened when Charlie Lee, who had been waiting to replace Dayton, still came on but it was Koroma, about to take a corner, who was replaced.

At that stage Orient would have been delighted to have taken a point, but Sutton were unable to make the advantage in personnel count and, in the last of the 90 minutes, calamity befell Worner who struggled to control a backpass and was overpowered by Bonne and substitute Matt Harrold, the ball ricocheting goalwards but hitting the post. As the Orient players tried to force it back over the line Worner tripped one or both of them, and may have been fortunate only to see a yellow card, but Bonne drilled the spot kick low to the keeper’s right to send Orient fans in to raptures.

With all that had happened in the second half U’s could have expected more than the seven additional minutes that were signalled, an amount that seemed as parsimoious as the five minutes at the end of the first half had seemed excessive, but Orient saw the game out well, U’s frustration resulting in the concession of several free kicks, and three stoppage time bookings, which prevented them gaining any momentum.

L Orient: D Brill, S Ling(sub J Dayton 15), J Widdowson, D Happe, M Ekpiteta, J Coulson, J Brophy, C Clay, M Bonne, D Gorman(sub M Harrold 59), J Koroma(sub C Lee 74). Subs n/u S Sargeant, J Simpson. Booked: Koroma, Gorman. Sent Off: Dayton.

Link to photos: Here