Dan Johnson treble eases Leyton Orient past challenge of league new boys Harrogate
Leyton Orient 3 Harrogate Town 0
Dan Johnson bagged a hat-trick as the O’s got back to winning ways.
The striker’s clinical first-half double set the East Londoners on their way to ending a run of four defeats in a row - two of them in the league – and was just the tonic needed to retain the upwardly mobile feeling generated by a solid start to the season.
He completed his treble in the 73rd minute, heading home an inswinging corner to the far post from skipper Jobi McAnuff. Johnson was left criminally unmarked for what was a simple nod home from three yards. His tally for the season is now 12.
Orient made a tentative start against the Football League’s newest arrivals, who had most of the ball over the 90 minutes. But once they got their noses in front, they controlled the game well and never looked in trouble.
The Sulphurites – as Town are also known – began confidently but paid the price for a high line, when Conor Wilkinson’s simple first-time ball on half way sent Johnson in the clear in the 18th minute.
The striker finished perfectly with a low left foot shot into the far corner beyond keeper James Belshaw.
McAnuff, who is still defying age beautifully at 39 and was outstanding throughout, intercepted a stray pass to set up a chance for Wilkinson inside the box, as the O’s upped their game.
A stretching Belshaw kept it out, but he could do nothing to keep out another shot from Johnson moments later as Orient doubled their lead on 31 minutes – the on-fire striker lashing home a left footer into the top corner after being set up by Josh Coulson.
It should have been 3-0 after 38 minutes. James Brophy missed a sitter after being presented with a clear opening by Johnson – though the chance owed much to a perfectly-angled long ball from the back from Ouss Cisse, patrolling to great effect in front of the back four.
Orient were happy to sit back and wait for chances to break in the second half and they protected their advantage perfectly. Their patience was rewarded with the Johnson goal which settled the outcome.
Lawrence Vigouroux saved a powerful drive from Tom Walker at the death to ensure the clean sheet and although the Yorkshire side never stopped pressing, Orient’s keeper had few real saves to make.
Orient: Vigouroux – Ling, Happe, Coulson, Widdowson – Cisse – Wilkinson (Maguire-Drew 82), Kyprianou (Wright 87), McAnuff (Dayton 78), Brophy (Dennis 82) – Johnson. Subs not used: Sargeant, Thomas, Akinola