FOREST GREEN head coach Mark Cooper bemoaned defensive misdemeanours after his side’s Carabao Cup defeat at home to Leyton Orient.
Kicking a ball in competitive anger for the first time in 189 days since the season shuddered abruptly to a COVID-19 halt after a 2-0 win at Swindon Town, Mark Cooper’s side should have put the game to bed after Dan Happe’s first-half own goal gave Rovers a slender advantage, but two goals in quick succession soon after half-time from Danny Johnson and Conor Wilkinson saw Orient make it into the second round.
Cooper said: “We were really good in the first half and should have put the game to bed, but second half we were really sloppy with two horrendous mistakes and we have to be better defensively, but lots to be positive and a step along the way for Bolton on Saturday.
“The first goal our centre-half gets bullied and the second our other centre-half lets their left-footed player come inside and bend it in the corner.”
A busy summer of recruitment earlier saw Cooper hand competitive debuts to goalkeeper Luke McGee, Kane Wilson, Dan Sweeney, Jamille Matt, Nicky Cadden and Jordan Moore-Taylor.
Ross Embleton’s side fell behind in the 23rd minute when visiting defender Happe poked a Nicky Cadden cross beyond Lawrence Vigouroux.
Rovers had chances to further extend their lead during a tepid first half with Dan Sweeney’s sumptuous striike and Jamille Matt both testing Vigouroux with well-struck efforts.
Orient turned up the heat after the break and two goals in four minutes saw them take command.
Johnson caught out a flat-footed Jordan Moore-Taylor to dink the ball over the advancing Luke McGee after 49 minutes, and they stung Cooper’s side again soon after when Wilkinson cut inside Chris Stokes and slammed his shot under the exposed McGee.
Orient almost pinched a third after 78 minutes with McGee thwarting Josh Coulson, punching his point-blank header over from a Jobi McAnuff corner.
Rovers’ Stokes missed a glorious stoppage-time opportunity to take the game to penalties, skewing over the bar from inside the box.
Forest Green Rovers: McGee, Wilson, Godwin-Malife, Moore-Taylor, Stokes, Sweeney, Winchester, Adams, Collins (McCoulsky 82), Matt (Stevens 71)
Subs not used: Thomas, Kitching, Allen, Evans, Wagstaff
Leyton Orient: Vigouroux, Ling, Brophy, Cisse, Coulson, Happe, Mcanuff (Wright 84), Clay (Dayton 72), Wilkinson (Woddowson 90), Angol, Johnson
Subs not used: Sargeant, Maguire-Drew, Thomas, Turley
Referee: C Hicks
Star Man: Nicky Cadden. The capture from Morton was a constant thorn in the side of Orient.