Town: Chris Weale, Cameron Gayle, Joe Jacobson, Darren Jones, Yado Mambo, Chris Porter (Morgan, 66) , Matt Richards (c), Dave McAllister (Parry, 75), Luke Summerfield, Tom Eaves, Jon Taylor
Subs: Joe Anyon, Connor Goldson, Luke Rodgers, Steve McGinn, Paul Parry, Rob Purdie, Marvin Morgan
Leyton Orient: Jamie Jones, Leon McSweeney, Romaine Vincelot, Scott Cuthbert, Mathieu Baudry, Dean Cox, Kevin Lisbie (Odubajo, 62), Charlie Macdonald, Nathan Clarke (c) (Omosuzi, 65), Lee Cook, Lloyd James
Subs: Jimmy Smith, Moses Odubajo, Charlie Grainger, Martin Rowlands, Elliot Omozusi
Referee: T. Harrington
Assistants: N. Gibbons & M. Buonassisi
Fourth Official: I. Hussin
Attendance: 5,274 (382 away supporters)
Martin Wild reports from Greenhous Meadow
Town made several changes to the side that lost so disappointingly last time out at Walsall. Rob Edwards picked up a training ground injury that’s likely to keep him sidelined until next month, so Yado Mambo earned a recall to the heart of defence. In midfield Steve McGinn and Paul Parry both dropped to the bench with Luke Summerfield and the returning Jon Taylor coming into the starting line-up. And up front Chris Porter was preferred to Marvin Morgan having recovered from a brief spell on the sidelines. Orient named a strong side but significantly, their injury problems meant that manager Russell Slade could only name five substitutes.
It was an overcast backdrop as the teams emerged from the tunnel and the floodlights were already illuminating the scene at kick-off. Orient got the game underway and attacked the Salop Leisure Stand end of the stadium.
Taylor began the game occupying a right sided berth but barely a couple of minutes had passed before he traded places with skipper Matt Richards. Both sides had a corner apiece early doors but the defences won the day on both occasions. It was a chilly day at the Meadow and the atmosphere was noticeably flat but that might have changed had Porter’s near post header from Dave McAllister’s cross not flashed across the face of goal after eight minutes. It was a decent attempt from the returning striker and with the O’s beaten in fourteen of the fifteen games in which they have fallen behind this season, the importance of the first goal was never more evident.
Orient missed a gilt edged chance shortly afterwards when Summerfield played an errant pass inside and that gave Lee Cook the chance to cross. He picked out Kevin Lisbie in space and he chested the ball down well to fashion the opening, but his connection was more fresh air than football and the gather for Chris Weale was much simpler than it ought to have been. Moments later Weale’s contribution was more telling when he did superbly to turn Dean Cox’s firm drive over at the near post. In between, Tom Eaves had pulled the ball back from the dead-ball line into a dangerous area but there wasn’t a team mate anywhere near and the visitor’s defenders mopped up without challenge.
Orient were asking most of the questions and Cook’s venomous swerving effort from outside the box almost caught out Town’s keeper. And then came a big talking point. Cox appeared to be upended by Darren Jones and the referee – perfectly positioned to make the decision – blew immediately. It looked odds-on a penalty award but he pointed in the opposite direction and booked the Orient man for simulation.
Town hadn’t been on top of their game – not by a long chalk - but they were still in the game although it needed a brave stop from Weale to prevent Lisbie from finding the net as he looked to knock home a loose ball at the front post.
The goal looked like it had been coming and it duly arrived on 33 minutes. Cox swung in a cross from a short corner routine and Mathieu Baudry got in front of his man to flick a header into the corner of the Town goal to give them a deserved lead. Only an offside flag 60 seconds later denied Lisbie a quickfire second as the Londoners looked to press home their advantage. Without doubt, Shrews were distinctly second best and struggling to get any kind of foothold in the match.
The home crowd were quiet and to be fair they hadn’t had too much to enthuse over with the away goalkeeper Jamie Jones not tested at all with the half drawing towards a close. Jones did keep out a deflected Taylor drive in the final minute but that was Town’s one and only effort on target going into the break.
Half Time: Town 0 Leyton Orient 1
Taylor miscued in the box at the resumption as Town stated their intent to press their opponent higher up the pitch, and put in a display befitting of a side in desperate need of points. Eaves then struck a crisp right foot volley which wasn’t that far wide of the target. It was an encouraging start from a side that had laboured throughout the lion’s share of the first half.
Sadly, in their first real soiree into Town territory, Orient went two ahead with a Lisbie penalty on 52 minutes. McAllister’s clumsy lunge from behind on Romaine Vincelot brought about an easy decision for Mr. Harrington and Lisbie inflicted the damage from 12 yards.
Town were now staring at a third successive league defeat for the first time this season (and a third in the last four on home soil) and were becoming increasingly embroiled in the League One relegation picture.
A Richards through ball for Taylor fell invitingly for the young winger and his cross-shot was deflected narrowly wide with the corner coming to nothing. A goal then might have given everyone a much needed lift but a two goal lead looked unlikely to be overturned going into the last half hour, even though Summerfield brought Jones into action for only the second time in the match.
Although not an irretrievable task it was obvious that the next goal, if there was to be one, had to come to the home side. A third for the Brisbane Road side would have ended the contest without any doubt. Orient made a couple of changes – one tactical and one through injury – before Morgan’s introduction for the pedestrian Porter with 24 minutes left.
Eaves received a soft yellow after making the slightest contact with goalkeeper Jones with the keeper wasting plenty of time at every opportunity to further incur the wrath of the home supporters. McAllister was soon replaced for the last quarter hour by Parry with Salop still desperate for any kind of route back into the game.
Town’s endeavour was honest enough but the damage had been done with those two goals in eighteen minutes either side of half-time, and rarely had Orient looked troubled in protecting that lead.
Shrewsbury managed a couple of late corners but the loudest cheer of the afternoon came when Orient’s keeper received a long overdue card for
persistent time wasting.
Eaves got two shots away in quick succession but Jones wasn’t called into action for either and with the game now into added time the outcome was becoming more and more inevitable - despite the extra five minutes indicated.
Many home fans decided to start the car early and those decisions were vindicated despite almost missing a third goal. Charlie McDonald’s glaring miss for a third when clean through seconds from the end would merely have served to compound the hosts misery.
Full Time: Town 0 Leyton Orient 2