Chritstian Burgess’s header 12 minutes into the second half inflicted Leyton Orient’s fifth defeat in their last six games. The Portsmouth center half rose highest from a corner early in the second half helped move his side back to fourth before their trip to league leaders Plymouth next weekend.
It was the away side who made most of the running seeing a Connor Chaplin effort ruled out for offside with Gary Roberts and Kyle Bennett also going close. In Albetto Cavasin first league match in charge, Orient struggled to create going forward, not being helped with an injury to captain Liam Kelly after 4 minutes. However their achilles heel cropped up once more when Burgess headed in from a corner in the second half.
Following their 1-0 defeat to Southend in the EFL trophy in midweek, new boss Alberto Cavasin made five changes to his side. Alex Cisak returned in goal while Yvan Erichot, Jens Janse, Jay Simpson and Paul McCallum all returned to the starting 11.
After back to back league defeats, Portsmouth boss Paul Cook was looking to build from his sides 2-2 draw with Reading U23’s in midweek. The former Chesterfield manager made two changes from the side that lost at home to Doncaster last weekend: Kyle Bennett came in on the left for Kai Naismith while Amine Linganzi made his first league start in place of Danny Rose who dropped to the bench.
In a fast pace start from Orient they looked to get about Portsmouth early on with winger Ulrich Nnomo having a cross blocked before Paul McCallum saw a tame effort blocked by the feet of David Forde. Despite showing early signs, Orient were handed a blow when captain Liam Kelly was stretchered off with an injury with Sandro Semedo coming on in his place.
Portsmouth who had conceded first in their last six games thought they had broken that sequence when Connor Chaplin brilliantly volleyed home an Enda Stevens cross however the linesmen ruled the goal out. Pompey were enjoying large spells of possession with both Gareth Evans and Enda Stevens giving their side outlets from their full back positions.
The high press from Portsmouth was causing the home side problems with the first signs of Alberto Cavasin’s style of play being seen. A major problem for the O’s this season has been their inability to defend from set pieces and it nearly came to fruition once more. A Gary Roberts corner found an unmarked Linganzi, but the midfielder could only head wide.
Referee Christopher Sarginson was then in the center of the controversy when it appeared Orient defender Yvan Erichot had been hauled down in the penalty area. However despite heavy appeals for the O’s players and the home crowd, Sarginson waved away the protests.
With the Portsmouth press having more and more influence, home keeper Alex Cisak nearly gifted them the opening goal. Following Connor Chaplin’s pressure, Cisak’s poor clearance found Gary Roberts who laid off to Chaplin but Cisak redeemed himself with a smart save.
The interchange between the attacking four of Pompey was causing danger for Orient with Roberts and Kyle Bennett picking the ball up in the area in-between defence and midfield. Bennett’s cross shot nearly handed Roberts with a tap in but the ball went agnozingly past him. Before Bennett tumbled inside the box but Sarginson waved away appeals and cautioned the Pompey winger.
Chaplin volleyed wide late on in the first half while Gary Roberts saw a cross go inches wide off the far post on the stroke of half time.
Orient manager Cavasin changed shape and personnel at the break bringing on Alan Dunne for striker Paul McCallum as Orient moved to a 4-5-1 system with Jay Simpson being supported by Gavin Massey from midfield.
Orient’s shape nearly created the opening goal for their side at the start of the second half. With Pompey caught in possession, Alan Dunne pounced nicking the ball from Michael Doyle, his run on goal ended with a attempted chip which keeper David Forde managed to grab.
However, Orient’s poor defensive record in the second half was highlighted once more and once again it came from a set piece. Only Yeovil (14) have conceded more second half goals than Orient (13). A Carl Baker corner was headed home by Christian Burgess who evaded the marking of Yvan Erichot to head home the opening goal.
With Orient trailing, Portsmouth were having plenty of joy exploiting the space left at the back by the hosts. However despite breaking several times forward, the final ball for the visitors was lacking when presented with the opportunities.
Portsmouth could have wrapped up victory nine minutes from time when a Baker cross was headed on to his own post by Nicky Hunt. Orient threw men forward in the search of an equalising goal with Tom Parkes and Sandro Semedo having efforts blocked following a Callum Kennedy corner.
However, Orient could not force a goal leaving them winless in their last seven matches. Portsmouth move to fourth after their win, two points behind third placed Carlisle United.
Well, another week, another defeat. The same old story really. It is clear to see that Cavasin is trying to have an influence on the playing style of his side but without your three central midfielders that provides a hard challenge.
Pre match comments about playing out from the back nearly was Orient’s undoing, as noted Portsmouth like to press the ball high with Orient lucky on several occasions not to be punished.
However with only one goal scored in the last 540 minutes of competitive football, that is the major problem. Going forward, Orient looked lost of ideas in attacking areas and unable to unlock a defense which left the door opened at times yesterday.
Understandably without three central midfielders that will be tough, but surely there has to be an idea of how to overcome this problem? Then, along with the inability to score, Orient have the inability to defend any set piece. Portsmouth could have had two or three from corners today with Orient players not doing their jobs probably.
Games are won and lost on set pieces, more than often lost when you watch Leyton Orient with manager Cavasin revealing that he did not have enough time to cover set pieces in his first week in charge. Yvan Erichot was the man guilty this week, losing Burgess in the box who headed home the winner.
It is only two games in, so you have got to give Cavasin some time to bed into English football but with Orient sitting just two points above the relegation zone, the immediate signs do not look good at Brisbane Road…..