Stevenage suffered a 3-1 defeat at Leyton Orient this evening in their opening Checkatrade Trophy group fixture.
Dean Wells’ dismissal after just 13 minutes was the turning point of the game and left Boro a man down against a very attack-minded Orient who took a first half-lead through Paul McCallum. Sandro Semedo doubled the hosts’ lead in the second half but Fraser Franks gave Darren Sarll’s men a lifeline with a header, only for McCallum to double his tally with Orient’s third.
Darren Sarll made four changes from the weekend defeat at Grimsby with loanees Harry Cowans and Jack King handed their first starts and Andrew Fox and Jake Hyde promoted from the bench. There was also a welcome sight among the subs of Steven Schumacher, named in the Boro matchday squad for the first time since rupturing his ACL at Bristol Rovers last November.
Jake Hyde forced the first save of the game after just four minutes when Orient failed to clear inside their box but the striker could only fire straight at Sargeant from a narrow angle.
New arrivals Jack King and Harry Cowans were looking bright in the opening 10 minutes but Boro’s game plan was dealt a blow three minutes later when they were reduced to 10 men. Dean Wells went up for a challenge with McCallum and when the striker went down holding his face, referee Ward showed the centre-back a straight red for an alleged elbow.
With King slotting in alongside Franks, Pett shifting across and Hyde moving wide, it left Boro with just Matty Godden up top and Orient took full use of their man advantage. Three times Jamie Jones denied the hosts as they flooded forward, first denying Semedo and then Bowery twice in quick succession as they looked to make the breakthrough.
Hyde twice went close for Boro but soon Orient were back on the attack. McCallum rattled the outside of the post on 31 minutes but two minutes later found the back of the net. Neat interplay out wide saw the striker find Cornick out wide and then make his way into the box. Cornick’s cross was then deflected into the path of McCallum who powered home first time for 1-0.
The same player fired over, the excellent Cornick fired inches wide and then saw another shot saved by Jones as Orient applied more pressure before the break without success.
Stevenage came out with renewed purpose in the second half but nine minutes in, found themselves two goals down. A deep cross from the right picked out attacking left-back Semedo and although his volley looked ambitious, it took a deflection off Henry and found the bottom corner.
Just before the hour Boro found themselves back in the game. Matty Godden was hauled down on the left flank and from Henry Cowan’s delivery, Fraser Franks nodded home his second of the week to halve the deficit.
Connor Hunte and Rowan Liburd came on for Boro as Darren Sarll threw on fresh legs but Orient scored their third with 20 minutes remaining to seal the win. Cornick was again the tormenter, turning Boro’s defence inside out before laying the ball on a plate for McCallum to tap home from yards out.
Nathan Kerr came on for his professional debut on 76 minutes and triggered a wave of subs from the hosts, who saw out the game comfortably against their hard-working visitors.
Stevenage return to league action this Saturday when Hartlepool United are the visitors. Tickets for this game can be purchased at www.borotickets.co.uk.
Leyton Orient: Sargeant, Kennedy, Parkes, Weir, McCallum, Atangana (Kelly 46), Hunt, Cornick (Koroma 77), Bowery (Dalby 75), Semedo, Pollock
Subs not used: Cisak, Palmer, Moncur, Alzate
Stevenage: Jones, Henry (Kerr 76), Wells, Franks, Lee, Pett, Cowans, King, Fox, Godden (Liburd 68), Hyde (Hunte 59)
Subs not used: Day, Schumacher, Tonge, McKee
Referee: Gavin Ward
Attendance: 876 (47 away)