Leyton Orient returned to winning ways towards the top of Sky Bet League 1 with a 2-0 win over Stevenage at Brisbane Road this evening.
First half goals from Moses Odubajo and Chris Dagnall did the damage for the O’s during an encouraging first half performance by the hosts. Stevenage improved after the break but despite their best efforts, couldn’t find a way past Eldin Jakupovic and his defence to force their way back into the match.
Graham Westley recalled Luke Jones and Dean Parrett to his starting XI as Stevenage lined up in a 4-4-2. New loan signing Curtis Obeng was among the subs.
With a heavy downpour an hour before kick-off dampening an already heavy surface, it understandably took both sides time to find their feet in this one, with the first shot not coming until the eighth minute. O’s striker Chris Dagnall found space in the box but drove his effort wide of Day’s far post.
The game remained even until the 14th minute when the hosts took the lead, albeit with a helping hand from Boro. Dagnall robbed Hartley of possession on the edge of the Boro box and advanced his way into the area. Day beat away his fierce shot but only as far as Odubajo, who found the back of the net from close range.
After twenty minutes without much to cheer about from a Stevenage perspective the team reverted to the 3-5-2 of recent games, with Mousinho dropping into the back line and Smith resuming duties in midfield.
However with Orient pushing forward in numbers and closing down Boro’s backline, it wasn’t long before they forced a mistake and pounced to double their advantage - Cox robbing Jones inside the box and squaring it to Dagnall to tap home into an empty net for 2-0.
With a two-goal lead the O’s took their foot off the gas slightly and allowed Stevenage to push forward more. When Freeman was fouled out-wide by Cuthbert it gave Morais the chance to swing in a dangerous free-kick. Akins met his delivery and headed down into the six yard box, but there was no Boro body there to tap in and it bounced harmlessly wide.
Just past the half hour Boro came again and earned themselves a corner. Whilst the initial delivery was headed wide by an Orient head it only went as far as Morais, whose dangerous near-post cross was gathered by Jakupovic.
Russell Slade’s men seemed comfortable sitting back and hitting Stevenage on the counter, a tactic which nearly bore fruit 10 minutes before the break. The lively Cox evaded Jones’ tackle on the right before squaring along the 18 yard box to Odubajo, who took a touch before forcing Day into a save with his legs. The danger wasn’t over and when the ball came back into the Boro box 20 seconds later, there was Dagnall with a powerful header which flew just over.
Up the other end Boro continued their efforts to break down the O’s stubborn defence and had a couple of decent opportunities to reduce the deficit. Firstly a corner was cleared to the edge of the box but only as far as Jimmy Smith, who drilled an effort at goal which Jakupovic had to beat away in his first meaningful save.
Then with just moments of the half remaining, Freeman was brought down in a central position, 25 yards out which handed Graham Westley’s team a dangerous looking set-piece. Up stepped Dean Parrett to curl up and over the wall, only for Jakupovic to gather comfortably and maintain the O’s 2-0 lead at the break.
Stevenage started the second half the brighter of the two teams with Smith forcing a corner with a low, deflected effort after just five minutes.
Soon afterwards good closing down on Jakupovic from Morais saw the ‘keeper's clearance hit the winger but the ball bounced wide, with Parrett winning a corner. That set play was taken short to Boro’s number 13 and then played to Mousinho, whose cross was nodded harmlessly wide by Freeman.
Jones was the next to have an effort on goal, when the ball fell to him on the edge of the area after a Freeman free-kick pinballed around the box, but his drilled shot went wide.
Despite that pressure from Boro the hosts continued to look dangerous going forward. On 58 minutes Cox evaded Jones and slipped in Mooney, who turned and tried to find Dagnall but Smith was there to clear behind. Although the visitors cleared that corner the counter broke down and back came Orient, with Dagnall heading a Cox cross over.
Graham Westley made a double sub just past the hour with Darius Charles and Roarie Deacon replacing John Mousinho and Filipe Morais.
The changes seemed to reinvigorate Boro, who created a couple of decent chances of their own. First Freeman collected a short corner before turning and crossing to the back-post where an O’s defender could only head behind under pressure from Zoko. Deacon then collected the resulting corner but could only poke wide.
Moments later Charles found himself through on goal and whilst an excellent tackle dispossessed him it fell to Zoko, whose follow-up shot had the sting taken out of it and was comfortable for the keeper.
Orient continued to look dangerous in parts but again it was Boro creating the best of the chances. Neat interchange between Parrett and Freeman saw the latter gather the ball inside the box, but a last-gasp challenge prevented a shot on goal. The subsequent corner found Charles at the back post but even his flick fell comfortably for Jakupovic, as hopes of a comeback began to fade.
Even when Orient handed Boro opportunities, they were unable to capitalise. A slip from left-back Gary Sawyer set Charles free down the right and although he advanced into the box, his cut-back was blazed over by Zoko.
During three minutes of injury time a fine one-handed stop from Jakupovic denied Doughty a drilled consolation from the edge of the box as the hosts ran out comfortable 2-0 winners and took all three points.
Next up for Stevenage is Peterborough at home on Saturday, in a game which Boro will be looking to impress their home fans and pick up a much-needed win.
Orient: Jakupovic, Cuthbert, Clarke, Baudry, Sawyer, Odubajo, James (Ness 82), Vincelot, Cox, Money, Dagnall (Batt 75)
Subs not used: Lisbie, Larkins, Lasimant, Bartley, Simpson
Boro: Day, Smith, Jones, Ashton, Hartley, Morais (Deacon 60 (Doughty 78)), Mousinho (Charles 60), Parrett, Freeman, Zoko, Akins
Subs not used: Arnold, Obeng, Burrow, Doughty, N’Guessan
Referee: Trevor Kettle
Attendance: 4,171 (333 away)