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  • Writer's pictureBy Yann Tear at Brisbane Road

Who needs the World Cup? Emphatic win for Orient over Bradford tightens grip on League Two table

Leyton Orient (2) 3 Kelman 24, James 32, Sotiriou 85

Bradford City (0) 0

If only all World Cups could be like this for the O’s.

With no competition for eyeballs from London clubs currently occupying the top three divisions, Brisbane Road was treated to a bumper crowd and quite the buzz ahead of the 12.30pm kick off.

It helps when you are top of the league, of course. And that your fans were starved of home games for the whole of November, by a quirk of the fixture list.

It also helps when the opponents are the best supported team in League Two. Bradford’s attendances are the envy of plenty of Championship clubs, let alone others in their division and they turned up in good numbers.

A second-best home crowd of the season - 8,671 - got its money’s worth.

The Bantams – whose fans offered up a fine range of anti-Leeds United songs - started the day in fifth place, 12 points behind Orient and there was an unmistakable top of the table edge to proceedings.

The chilled, packed little ground could not be more in contrast with the steaming hot action taking place in the new-builds a few thousand miles away in Doha. But it would have felt like heaven to home fans.

For Richie Wellens, who has signed a new contract to remain as boss until 2025, this was another happy day, as the east Londoners extended their lead over second-placed Stevenage to five points. The teams meet just after Christmas.

The O’s were none too convincing in the opening stages but once in front, never looked back.

Charlie Kelman put them in front after latching onto Theo Archibald’s slipped pass, and rounding keeper Harry Lewis before slotting into an empty net.

The American timed his run perfectly to beat the offside trap and was all alone as he waltzed around the City stopper.

Kelman’s fourth goal of the season was reward for his graft. He looked lively throughout the first half and the likeliest source of a goal. On this evidence, he might have been able to do a job in Qatar for the USA against Holland later in the day.

Soon after, Mark Hughes’ side were asleep as a corner was rolled out to an unmarked Tom James on the right edge of the penalty area and the defender clipped a beautiful left footer into the far corner to double the lead.

The Bantams made the better start though against nervy-looking lead leaders who needed a couple of last-ditch tackles to avoid conceding and were attacked down both flanks by speedy players showing plenty of positive intent.

The division’s top scorer, Andy Cook, came very close to applying the finishing back post touch to an angled free-kick. But the James goal knocked much of the stuffing out of them.

Dan Happe had a fine game, keeping Cook under wraps well. He was so solid that Hughes threw off his gloves in a fit of frustration at one stage after the defender had shrugged off City striker Harry Chapman in a manner that the former Wales boss felt was illegal. The home fans loved that.

In the second half, James’ free-kick beat the wall but was tipped onto the woodwork by Lewis – the set piece resulting from a solo charge from deep George Moncur, who put in a good in midfield alongside skipper Darren Pratley and Idris El Mizouni.

Theobald and Kelman both should have made the margin of victory greater, but were denied by Lewis in separate attacks. As it was, Ruel Sotiriou came off the bench and swept in from close range after a goalmouth melee, having barely entered the fray and Archibald almost made it four.

The table-topping O’s, once ahead, were never less than comfortable.

Orient: (4-3-3) Vigouroux – Brown, Beckles, Happe, James – Pratley, Moncur (Clay 76), El Mizouni – Smyth (Sotiriou 82), Kelman (Drinan 72), Archibald. Subs not used: Sargeant, Ogie, Wareham, Sweeney

Bradford: (4-2-3-1) Lewis – Halliday, Platt, Odusina, Foulds – Gilliead, Smallwood – Banks (Eisa 65), Chapman (Walker 65), Wright – Cook (Angol 65). Subs not used: Doyle, Songo’o, East, Oliver


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