Happe Header Sends O's Through

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Leyton Orient advanced to the semi-finals of the FA Trophy win a narrow 2-1 win away at current holders Brackley Town.

The hosts took a first-half lead through Lee Ndlovu but second-half goals from Matt Harrold and Dan Happe, both after a Josh Koroma penalty miss, turned the game around for the visitors.

Marvin Ekpiteta returned to the O’s line-up for the first time since his injury in the last round of this competition against Wrexham, while Josh Coulson was named on the bench after recovering from the injury he sustained against Salford City in the league.

Brackley started the brighter of the two teams and could have taken the lead after only five minutes when a long kick from Danny Lewis caused a mix-up in the Orient defence, but Sam Ling did just enough to win the ball back and clear.

The Saints then had two big chances, firstly through Armson as he broke through but shot straight at Dean Brill when one-on-one and, from the resulting attack, Ndlovu won a free-kick that was excellently pushed away by Brill to deny Glen Walker.

Orient did briefly threaten to come back but Macauley Bonne wasted their best chance, blazing well over the goal and the stand behind it after Dan Happe had nodded the ball into his path.

The O’s were made to rue that missed opportunity seven minutes later when Brackley took the lead through Ndlovu who tapped in from less than a yard after Matt Lowe got the better on Ling.

Justin Edinburgh’s side tried to steady the ship after falling behind and Jay Simpson almost scored the first goal of his second spell, but his fierce effort from McAnuff’s ball in was deflected away before McAnuff himself saw a cross clawed out by Lewis before he gathered at the second attempt.

Orient looked a lot livelier in the second half but failed to convert that into goalscoring opportunities, having their first chance when Craig Clay played an excellent ball through to Bonne, but he failed to fully get it under control before the home side cleared.

Brackley then went close when the referee pulled the game back for a foul on Ndlovu, despite him being through on goal, and the resulting free-kick was blocked before Armson somehow volleyed wide after the ball was played back in.

The visitors were given a golden opportunity to get back into the game when substitute Jordan Maguire-Drew cut into the penalty area and was bundled over, but the resulting spot-kick from Bonne was pushed away by Lewis.

However, not long after, the O’s did pull level as another substitute in Matt Harrold slid in at the back post to convert a low cross from Brophy right in front of the travelling Orient fans.

This seemed to spur the away side on, and they created another opportunity as the game entered the final ten minutes when they won a corner, and Happe got his head to Maguire-Drew’s delivery to beat Lewis and complete the turnaround.

Despite some late pressure from the Saints, which resulted in numerous bouts of pinball in the Orient area, they were able to hold onto the victory that sees them go one step further in the competition than they did last year and to within one game of a Wembley final.

Team: Brill; Judd, Ekpiteta, Happe, Ling; McAnuff, Gorman, Clay, Brophy; Bonne, Simpson

Subs: Sargeant, Coulson, Maguire-Drew, Harrold, Lee