A goal in each half continued Preston’s charge up the League 1 table. Callum Robinson put North End on their way after 19 minutes with Paul Huntingdon sealing the Lancashire club’s eighth win in a row in all competitions. Orient, who on Sunday named that Mauro Milanese had taken over the managerial duties are still looking for their first home win, picking up just 2 points out of possible 18 at home this season.
The Italian sporting director named recent signing Gianvito Plasmati in the starting 11 after the Italian received international clearance, replacing the suspended Darius Henderson. Dean Cox and Bradley Pritchard replaced the injuried Nathan Clarke and Chris Dagnall. Preston, off the back of their 3-2 comeback win against Fleetwood, made three changes with Scott Laird, Kyle Reid and Alan Browne being replaced by Scott Wiseman, Chris Humphrey and John Welsh. Joe Garner continued in attack after his 19 minute hat trick on Saturday partnered by Paul Gallagher.
North End were in fine form after winning their last 7 games, started off the better. Both Humphrey and Callum Robinson exploited the space allowed to them by Orient but were both unable to give them the lead. Robinson did open the deadlock after 19 minutes and had his fellow winger to thank. Garner played Humphrey in down the right flank with the former Motherwell midfielder crossing from the byline to Robinson who tapped home inside the 6 yard box.
Orient were struggling to keep possession in a very narrow midfield, Plasmati was finding it difficult not helped by his lack of match fitness. But Orient could have had an instant response after falling behind through Jay Simpson. Dean Cox won the ball in his own half and played a through ball to Simpson who evaded the offside trap. However after netting 4 in his last 5 matches, he couldn’t add to his tally with former O’s keeper Jamie Jones saving his effort. Simpson went close 2 minutes later after striking a loose ball towards goal after a corner but Buchanan cleared off the line.
Humphrey continued to cause Orient problems linking up well with Gallagher but Garner could only head straight at Gary Woods. Simpson looked the brightest outlet in an Orient shirt and grew as the half went on. Orient could have leveled 5 minutes before the break but Jones pulled off a fine double save to keep Preston’s lead in tact. Jobi McAnuff had beaten Wiseman down the left, pulling back to Simpson who had his shot blocked with the rebound falling to Plasmati but his effort was also saved by Jones.
Milanese swapped around the back four at half time with Omuzusi switching from right to left back, Scott Cuthbert moving to right back with Shane Lowry partnering Mathieu Baudry at center back. Plasmati grew slightly in the game but his poor first touch was a problem. Josh Wright who was making his second debut after signing on loan from Milwall earlier in the day was introduced and looked to pass the ball around. Preston introduced Kevin Davies to replace Paul Gallagher to add some physical prowess with Davies poking narrowly wide on 68 minutes. Orient didn’t heed the warning and Preston wrapped up victory with 15 minutes remaining. From a free kick Paul Huntingdon tapped home Tom Clarke’s header to seal the win for North End.
The win leaves Preston 2nd on 31 points, 2 behind league leaders Bristol City but they do have a game in hand. North End now have a 5 point cushion over the play off pack who all have 26 points and play Rochdale away on Saturday looking to make it 9 out of 9. Orient sit 20th on 15 points just one off of the relegation places, picking up just 5 points out of a possible 21 since Russell Slade’s departure in October. It is troubling times for Orient with injuries and suspensions a problem, Orient need results quickly.
With no new manager in the vicinity, how long can the vacant managerial position be left open for? Surely if they had a man in the pipeline he would have been appointed by now. Poor home form is one factor and with another game at Brisbane Road on Saurday against Coventry; points need to come soon. Plasmati debuted, lacking match fitness which is obvious having not played for a club in 6 months. With a strike rate of 1 in just shy of 5 games he is not the most prolific of striker with his best season stats of 12 goals in 31 appearances in 2005/2006. Time will tell on the new signing but at this moment in time Orient need results. Jay Simpson took time to settle and hopefully Plasmati will too but at the moment the jury is out.