Winning start for Nolan


Jay Simpson –

An improved second half performance from Leyton Orient saw them beat Newport, to secure back-to-back wins under new boss Kevin Nolan. Jay Simpson’s late penalty was enough to hand the O’s a 1-0 victory, in a game in which their opponents rarely threatened.

The Welsh visitors did start brightly, however. They shifted the ball well and looked to exploit the right flank through the trickery of Alex Rodman. One good run from the wide man allowed Yann Klukowski to cross, but his dangerous delivery was headed clear.

For a team playing at home to relegation candidates, Leyton Orient operated surprisingly deep in the first half. They did not press with enough intensity and needlessly gave the ball away too often, much to the frustration of the home fans. Jobi McAnuff was the best of a bad bunch for the home side early on. The left winger instigated most of his side’s attacks and did his fair share of defensive work.


Nathan Byrne –

Midfielder Nigel Atangana perhaps relied on his athleticism too much. His superior pace and strength helped him win the ball on occasion, but other times, his attempts to win it got him out of position, allowing Newport to find a way through. The visitors boasted the best passer of a ball on the pitch in Mark Byrne, who controlled proceedings, the midfielder’s 32nd minute free-kick just missing the head of Andrew Hughes.

Newport looked composed in possession and their centre-backs camped in the opposition half, but they were not creating many clear cut chances. They lacked penetration and might have wanted more direct runs from Medy Elito, a player best known for his attacking speed. Orient right-back Sean Clohessy looked apprehensive when competing for the ball and Newport perhaps should have exploited the left flank more.

Neither goalkeeper had any substantial work to do in the first half, one of Mitchell Beeney’s few moments of involvement coming on 28 minutes. Jay Simpson drove forward and, ignoring options either side, drilled the ball low, but the keeper pushed his shot wide. Calaum Jahraldo-Martin then tried his luck from distance, but his effort flew over the bar.

Connor Essam has been criticized by some fans in recent weeks, but he and fellow centre-back Mathieu Baudry were in good shape while Frazer Shaw put in a solid display at left-back. Leyton Orient were far from at their best on Tuesday night, but with a tight defence they at least stayed in the game. For that, an ounce of credit may also go to Alex Cisak, who pulled off a superb reflex save to stop Conor Wilkinson’s powerful close-range effort, moments before half-time.


Jobi McAnuff –

Perhaps geed up by Kevin Nolan’s first half-time pep talk at Brisbane Road, Leyton Orient looked a better side in the second half. McAnuff went on a winding run and cleverly switched the ball to Simpson, whose curling shot flew just wide.

Orient saw more of the ball in the second half, but they hit their front men earlier than Newport had done in their spells of prominence and were a bit more direct. Newport were on the back foot more but they were standing strong, with centre-backs Andrew Hughes and Darren Jones, the latter having signed just the day before, holding their ground.

Kevin Nolan began training on the touchline to the delight of the home fans, who chanted: “he’s coming on”. Nolan made an impact from the bench and his spectacular flick into the box led to a foul by Danny Holmes on McAnuff. Jay Simpson had missed his last two penalties, but he reminded everyone why he was still League Two’s top scorer by sticking this one away with confidence to secure victory.

Defeat for Newport means they are still only four points above the relegation zone, and have work to do to avoid a relegation battle. However, Warren Feeney has had a steady start to life as Exiles manager and he is the right man to keep the team up. He had been a member of the coaching staff for a few months and that might make the transition process easier. With each of Newport’s next seven opponents being below the play-offs, the Welsh side should be able to pick up some points in the next few weeks.


Warren Feeney –

For Leyton Orient manager Kevin Nolan, two wins from two games represents a good start, but nothing more than that. Nolan seems to be building an informal relationship with his players, and that has helped on a short-term basis, yet one might question the long-term implications. It is always difficult for a player-manager to have a good report with his teammates on the field, whilst retaining respect, and perhaps an element of fear, in the dressing room.

The question is whether Nolan will have the personal discipline to take a step back when needed, avoid showing undue loyalty to players he may be fond of and make the right decisions for the club. Nolan must get out of the mentality of being ‘one of the lads’ and become ‘the boss’ – whether he has the mind-set to do so remains to be seen.

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