Dean Wells sees red as 10-man Stevenage lose Checkatrade Trophy opener at Leyton Orient

Dean Wells defends

Dean Wells defends - Credit: Archant

Dean Wells was controversially dismissed in the first half as 10-man Stevenage tasted a 3-1 defeat in their opening group game of the inaugural Checkatrade Trophy in front of a paltry crowd of 876 at the Matchroom Stadium tonight (Tuesday).

Boro were without a goal in their previous three visits to East London and their cause wasn’t helped in this Group G encounter as defender Wells was shown a straight red in the 13th minute for an alleged dangerous elbow on eventual two-goal hero Paul McCallum.

The visitors’ resolve lasted exactly 20 minutes before Bournemouth loanee Harry Cornick’s cross found the chest of Jordan Bowery who cushioned the ball into the path of McCallum to whack past Jamie Jones.

Eight minutes into the second half it was two as Cornick, who had run rings around unorthodox left-back Charlie Lee all evening, crossed for Sandro Semedo to volley a shot which deflected off Ronnie Henry and into the net for 2-0.

Just when Stevenage’s 47-strong army of fans might have given up though, Fraser Franks nodded debutant Henry Cowans’ free-kick beyond keeper Sam Sargeant to end their three-and-a-half game Orient goal drought and notch his second goal in as many games.

Still, the spoils were to remain in London as McCallum poked home a third Cornick assist to wrap up a deserved victory, a third successive three-goal home haul for Orient against Darren Sarll’s men.

A dominant display in a low-profile game as the predicted Trophy boycott put paid to a bumper crowd.

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Boro made four changes to the side that were dismantled 5-2 at Grimsby Town in League Two action on Saturday.

Out went the injured Luke Wilkinson, Ben Kennedy, Michael Tonge and Connor Hunte while in came Cowans and fellow debutant Jack King, signed today from League one side Scunthorpe United, Jake Hyde and Andrew Fox, playing in an advanced left-sided role, deputising.

The visitors began purposefully with the returning Hyde stinging the palms of Sargeant in the fourth minute.

Their bright opening was cut short by the dismissal of Wells, leading with his elbows in an aerial tussle with McCallum. Referee Gavin Ward had no hesitations in producing the red card but it looked extremely harsh.

Luckily the red will only cause the centre back to miss three Trophy games and not any vital league action.

From then it was all the O’s as they peppered Jones’ goal with various efforts in a dominant 20-minute spell.

Semedo brought an elementary save from the young custodian before former Aston Villa man Bowery was twice denied; first seeing a shot smothered on the angle before having another effort pushed off target when the forward had found acres of room.

Attack-minded Orient were to finally break the deadlock in the 33rd minute.

Cornick’s cross was chested down by Bowery and the waiting McCallum did the rest.

Seven minutes before the break it was almost two. Cornick picked the ball up on the right-hand side and his curling shot looked to be heading for the top corner but just veered wide at the final second.

Into the second half and it was much the same as Boro looked to stave off the Orient onslaught.

That only lasted a few minutes as Semedo made it two with a fortuitous volley that deflected off and it seemed like game over.

No-one had told Franks though and his header halved the deficit to 2-1 as Boro carved out a lifeline.

Ten minutes later their hope was extinguished as McCallum again pounced on a Cornick cross to extend their lead once more.

Andy Hessenthaler’s men went searching for more but other than a McCallum header that flew off target and substitute Josh Koroma’s left-foot floater that never looked like troubling Jones, they were denied valiantly by the away defence.

It’s back to league matters for Stevenage this weekend as they host Hartlepool with the hosts hoping to bag only their second win of a so far difficult campaign.

With their lack of defensive resources evident this evening, the final 24 hours before the transfer window slams shuts could be a vital one for Sarll and his side.

Stevenage - Jones, Fox, King, Franks, Pett, Hyde (Hunte, 59), Wells, Lee, Cowans, Henry (Kerr, 76), Godden (Liburd, 68). Subs not used - Day, Schumacher, Tonge, McKee.

Leyton Orient - Sargeant, Kennedy, Parkes, Weir, McCallum, Atangana (Kelly, 45), Cornick (Koroma, 77), Bowery (Dalby, 74), Semedo, Pollock. Subs not used - Cisak, Palmer, Moncur, Alzate.