Wanderers’ protracted winning run in League One came to an end as Orient avenged their loss at the Toughsheet Community Stadium just before Christmas, writes Pete Oliver.
The Whites had kicked off a four-match festive winning streak against the O’s but couldn’t repeat it on their return to league action as a second-half goal from Dan Agyei was enough to extend the O’s own fine run.
Orient haven’t conceded a goal since going 3-0 down in that first meeting and chalked up another clean as the Whites’ top scorer Dion Charles couldn’t add to his tally from a couple of crucial openings.
They came either side Agyei’s winner and with that proving decisive, Wanderers had to accept a fourth away loss on an after they failed to fire as Ian Evatt’s men saw their promotion push pause for the next few days at least, with Cheltenham quickly up next on Tuesday night.
Will Forrester’s injury absence, coupled with a return for Kyle Dempsey, meant two changes to the Wanderers’ side that started their mid-week FA Cup exit as the Whites completed their first League One game since New Year’s Day.
With rising temperatures allowing the fixture to go ahead following a second quick check on Saturday morning it was a meeting between two in-form teams.
While Orient’s last defeat had come at Wanderers, the Whites had win four in a row in their league campaign.
Predictably, then, there wasn’t much in it in a competitive opening half when both sides had their moments without being able to create a genuine chance until four minutes before the break when only the woodwork denied the Whites the opening goal.
Not for the first time, former O’s man Victor Adeboyejo threatened down the inside left channel, pulling the ball back for George Thomaso to clip a lovely cross to Charles who headed against a post.
That was the closest either side had come but within a minute of the re-start Orient were also inches away from going in front as lively frontman Agyei sent a fine strike just beyond the top corner of Nathan Baxter’s goal.
The O’s had come flying out of the blocks at the start of the second half and as Wanderers struggled to keep them at bay through a number of errors, Baxter had to make a smart save to keep out an angled drive from Ethan Galbraith.
But the hosts’ pressure did pay off 10 minutes in when Agyei fired them ahead, collecting a pass from Jayden Sweeney after he had charged down an attempted clearance from Eoin Toal and coolly slotting the ball past Baxter.
Wanderers had a fantastic chance to respond almost immediately but after again being teed up by Thomason, Charles couldn’t beat goalkeeper Sol Brynn, who spread himself to save.
Evatt wasted no time in making a triple change as he swapped his front pairing and also sent on Aaron Morley in place of Josh Sheehan in an effort to get Wanderers back into the contest.
The balance of play certainly shifted but Wanderers couldn’t find top gear to force another opening as Evatt made his final play with 20 minutes to go by sending on Paris Maghoma and Randell Williams.
O’s boss Richie Wellens was then sent from the dug-out for preventing Wanderers from taking a throw-in as the home side tried to kill the game.
Seven minutes of added time gave Wanderers added hope and there was an opening for Josh Dacres-Cogley to potentially grab a late leveller.
But after being released by Jon Dadi Bodvarsson he couldn’t hit the target to complete an afternoon of frustration for the Whites as they remained fourth in the table.
Wanderers: Baxter; Toal, Almeida Santos, Toal; Sheehan (Morley 58); Dacres-Cogley, Thomason, Dempsey (Maghoma 71), Ashworth (Williams 71); Charles (Jerome 58), Adeboyejo (Bodvarsson 58). Substitutes: Coleman, Matheson.
Booked: Sheehan, Jerome
Leyton Orient: Brynn; Galbraith, Beckles, Happe, Sweeney; Brown (Pratley 65), El Mizouni; Forde, Sanders (Sotiriou 70), Archibald; Agyei (Moncur 87). Substitutes: Byrne, Turns, Pigott, Cooper.