Well, it appears no matter how many games we lose by basic errors, another one can just go with the list. In a poor game of football, a simple set piece was the difference. For the umpteenth time this season Leyton Orient appeared unable to defend properly from dead balls leaving 6 ft 7 center half Rob Jones to have an unchallenged run in the box to head home the 56th minutes winner sealing the 3 points.
The O’s once again had chances to take the lead through Andrea Dossena and Darius Henderson but the attempts came and went. With Rovers showing rare ambition to go forward in their 4-5-1 system, the inaugural ” They are here for the taking”. Just like Crewe were at Gresty Road on Saturday but basic, simple errors cost the O’s dearly once more as they still somehow sit above the relegation zone on goal difference.
Not enough in the attacking third with an inability to have a plan B after falling behind. Long balls to Henderson and Dagnall was never going to work against a 6ft 7 and 6ft center back pairing. At times the O’s looked lost for ideas with the only option being: hit the ball long and see what happens. The fact of the matter is, you put your chances away when you have them, Rovers did that and got the points. Results like this could cost Orient their place in League 1 but they only have themselves to blame.
O’s boss Fabio Liverani made only 1 change from the side that drew 1-1 at Crewe on Saturday with Andrea Dossena preferred over Shane Lowry who dropped to the bench. Rovers boss Paul Dickov called for a strong end to the season prior to kick off and made 3 changes to his side that drew 1-1 with Rochdale on Saturday. Rob Jones, Cedric Evina and Harry Middleton were welcomed back in the side with Jamie McCombe, Enda Stevens and Nathan Tyson dropping to the bench.
Despite the O’s knowing a win could move them clear of the relegation places, the tempo was slow which wasn’t helped by Rovers’s reluctance to go forward. Neither side could grab a foothold in the game much to slowness and miss placing of passes. Ryan Hedges was drifting off of his right flank berth for the home side but was causing his own side more problems than the opposition. The O’s looked to use the left hand side earlier on through Dossena and Jobi McAnuff who were combining well but with no real end product. With Hedges inside, the home side were playing very narrow with a reliance on their full backs pushing on to provide the width.
Rovers who had only 2 wins in their last 8 before kick off had a game plan from the get go with Curtis Main up front on his own. Dickov brought in Middleton to his midfield to play 4-5-1 with Dean Furman the man asked to support Main but the away side were struggling to create much, living much of scraps.
In a dull, slow game, it was there for Orient to take the initiative as they needed the result to enhance their survival prospects. Dossena should have put the home side ahead after 21 minutes, Scott Cuthbert’s teasing right wing cross found Dossena unmarked at the back post but his first time shot went wide of the mark. It may be have been a tough chance from the Italian but he needed to force Bywater into action.
With Orient dominating possession, Henderson had the golden chance to have made it 3 in 3. After play down the right found Hedges, his ball round the corner found Marvin Bartley who had progressed forward. Bartley’s cross to the far post found Henderson who struck his first time effort straight at Bywater. Either side of the former West Ham keeper it would have been 1-0 but with chances going begging, was that Orient’s chance gone?
The home fans looked on as the inevitable was happening once more, not scoring when on top in matches: a problem all season. Hedges’s continued movement inside was not having the desired effect with the 19 year old not having his best game in an Orient shirt. Rovers didn’t trouble O’s keeper Alex Ciask until the 38th minute when good play down the left saw the ball played back to Richie Wellens, his shot was easily gathered by Ciask.
Despite Rovers sitting deep, they could have taken the lead just before the break, Bennett found Wellens in attack after an Orient corner had been cleared. The former Leicester man crossed for Curtis Main who arrowed his shot wide of the mark. The 3 points were there for Orient, Rovers looked poor and wanting the season to end. With a bit more belief, Orient could win the game.
However, it was Dickov who changed the game in favour of his side, he brought on Jonson Clarke-Harris for Harry Middleton as the away side went 4-4-2. Rovers had immediately changed their approach with Main given support in attack, it seemed as Dickov had seen what all Orient fans had seen that the points were well and truely there for the taking. Kyle Bennett forced Ciask into a smart save after creating space on the edge of the box.
The pace of the game had increased since the interval with the away side looking dangerous especially from set pieces. With Orient’s vulnerability from dead balls there for everyone to see, every O’s fan knew what was coming. After Enda Stevens replaced Cedric Evina, Main should have headed in a curling Bennett free kick but missed a free header. The warning signs were there for Orient but once again did we listen?
After McAnuff gave away a cheap foul on the right, Bennett whipped in a free kick which Rob Jones headed beyond Ciask. Poor poor marking from the O’s who left a 6ft 7, yes a 6ft 7 center half a free run in the box to head home his first goal of the season. Despair for everyone Orient fan who sensed the inevitable but picking up just 4 points from a possible 36 when conceding first at Brisbane Road it was a long way back.
Liverani brought in Shane Lowry and Jay Simpson for Dossena and Ryan Hedges to try and give some impetus in attack. But the home side just hit long ball after long ball as they lacked a cutting edge. Rovers were sitting pretty, 1-0 ahead and not being troubled. Shane Lowry had the best chance for the O’s but his header from a corner was blocked by goal scorer Jones on the line.
Rovers were showing Orient how to defend as the hosts searched for an equalizer. In a brief period of O’s pressure, Josh Wright’s fierce shot from outside the box was pushed around the post by Bywater. With Clarke-Harris, Main and Bennett willing runners, Rovers had an easy out ball and with 8 minutes left Dickov set his stall out bringing on 6 ft 5 Jamie McCombe for Curtis Main as Rovers defended their lead in a 5-4-1 formation.
Orient continued to lump the ball forward but with no end result, Jay Simpson had the last effort of the match but Bywater saved well from the former Arsenal man as Orient succumbed to their 12th home defeat of the season. Another one from basic errors with game seemingly there to be won. After dominating the second half at Crewe and tonight’s game, 1 point is not good enough given the opposition.
The only saving grace is that all of the teams below us got beaten but just look what a win would have done for our survival prospects. Defending from set pieces has been an on going problem which seems to have not been addressed. It was clear to see what was going to happen after the first 5 minutes of the second half but at least this time the people around me did not get criticised. At home to Bristol City, the man sitting in the next row was adamant that no one was marking Aden Flint (number 4) from a free kick, Freeman whipped in and Flint nodded home.
The guy got barracked for abuse after stating the obvious but no one did tonight as it was so easy for Rovers. A difficult run in especially after Preston squandered a 2-0 home lead last night, Orient face MK Dons on Saturday with the Dons knowing a win could put them second. Points over performance is all that matters at this stage of the season but 1 point from 6 is not enough. MK will be up for the game at the weekend and in my opinion based on the last few weeks, 3 in central midfield is a must. James, Bartley and Wright should start if Liverani sets team’s out to deal with threats, his words not mine.
If Orient fail to turn up at Stadium MK, a drubbing could be on the agenda but we need to go game by game and put it behind us. Still outside bottom 4 but relegation is getting ever closer.