Bristol City extended their lead at the top of League 1 to 10 points after a 3-1 victory at Leyton Orient. Chris Dagnall got Orient off to the best possible start slotting home after 4 minutes from David Mooney through ball. But it didn’t take long for City to equalise after a mistake Mathieu Baudry allowed Kieran Agard to lay off to Freeman to strike home. City took the lead 9 minutes later when Aden Flint rose unmarked to head home a Freeman free kick. Aaron Wilbraham wrapped up the 3 points tapping in at the back post from Joe Bryan cross on the hour mark to give City a third straight win.
Orient named an unchanged side for the first time this season after their 2-0 win at Walsall on Saturday. Steve Cotterill made only 1 change with Joe Bryan coming in for Greg Cunningham who dropped to the bench. Orient, full of confidence started on the front foot, trying to grab what could be the important first goal and they did. Jobi McAnuff robbed Mark Little, laying off to David Mooney; Mooney played Chris Daganll in on goal and the striker calmly slotted home for the opener. With City playing a 3-5-2 system, Liverani’s tactic in the opening exchanges was to turnover possession quick, breaking with the two wingers to create a 4 vs 3 situation.
The home side were using Ryan Hedges and Jobi McAnuff on the flanks trying to pull out the City centre halves. McAnuff had a shot palmed away from Fielding after Mooney got in behind and laid off to the winger. The Robins, who have only lost 5 games in the league this season responded 8 minutes after the opener. Joe Bryan got in behind full back Luke O’Neil; Mathieu Baudry tried to shield the ball out but Bryan nipped in and played to Agard. The former Rotherham man played the ball back for Luke Freeman to fire home with a deflection to level the scores. After the goal City grew in the game with Freeman beginning to dominate in the middle of midfield causing the home side problems.
Orient were being tempted in challenges with the referee awarding City a succession of free kick in promising areas. Orient have been vulnerable all season from dead balls and City exploited this through center half Aden Flint who put them ahead. Freeman swung in a free kick to an unmarked Flint who headed home to complete the comeback 9 minutes after the equalizer. Orient were looking for an instant response to going behind and after recent results they had the confidence to do so.
The O’s were unlucky not level on 26 minutes when a Josh Wright free kick found Dagnall who’s goal bound shot was brilliantly blocked for a corner by Wilbraham. City seemed to heed the scare looking more comfortable in possession with Pack and Freeman dictating play in midfield. Mark Little who has impressed for City down the right since joining from Peterborough was an outlet ball for the away side and seemed to have the better of former Liverpool full back Andrea Dossena. Bryan could have given City a two goal lead but headed wide from a Little cross at the back post.
Orient searched for a leveler before the break with McAnuff having another shot spilled by Fielding but Vincelot should have equalized on half time. Wright whipped in a corner by the make shift skipper headed over from 6 yards. City started the second half on the front foot with Marlon Pack having a shot pushed round for a corner. The resulting corner was somehow missed by Mooney and Wright at the front post and the chance went begging for City.
The home side looked to push on with both O’Neil and Dossena pushing forward down the flanks. It was the Italian who had a 25 yard shot brilliantly saved on 58 minutes to keep City ahead: the save proved pivotal as juts two minutes later City grabbed a third. Bryan whipped in a teasing cross from the left; Wilbraham avoided his marker to tap in for his 16th goal of the season. Fabio Liverani looked to his bench to respond with Dean Cox and Jay Simpson introduced for Ryan Hedges and David Mooney. But City resorted Orient to long shots until the latter stages when Vincelot and late substitute Gianvito Plasmati had shots saved by Fielding. Simpson had a late header saved by Fielding as City clung on for what could be a massive 3 points in their charge for the League 1 title.
Orient will feel unlucky as they performed well but as many games this season, defensive lapses has cost them a result. Luke O’Neil continues to impress at full back with Jobi McAnuff and Ryan Hedges picking up form for Orient. The Robins now sit 10 points clear of nearest rivals, Preston who needed a late Jermain Beckford goal to grab a point whilst MK Dons and Swindon both suffered home defeats. In truth City did what they needed to get the 3 points against a battling Orient side, but Orient should be buoyed with performances like that they should have a good chance of survival. City face a trip to Crawley where they could extend their lead at the top whilst Orient travel to Peterborough where they have fond memories after their victory in the League 1 playoffs last May.