Bywater keeps Orient at bay
- Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO
Sky Bet League One: Leyton Orient 0 Doncaster Rovers 1
Leyton Orient saw their four-match unbeaten run come to an end and their relegation fears increased on a frustrating night in east London.
Fabio Liverani’s men found Doncaster keeper Stephen Bywater in inspired form, as he made superb saves from Darius Henderson, Shane Lowry and Josh Wright.
And a bullet header from Rob Jones condemned the home side to a defeat that leaves them hanging on to a place outside the relegation zone on goal difference.
Liverani made just the one change to his starting line-up following Saturday’s draw with Crewe as fellow countryman Andrea Dossena came in for Lowry, who dropped to the bench where young keeper Sam Sargeant was included among the substitutes for the first time, with Charlie Grainger joining the injured list.
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Jobi McAnuff found space on the left in the opening minute and sent a teasing centre across the face of Bywater’s goal, before Nathan Clarke was booked after only four minutes for a foul on Dean Furman.
But the opening quarter of an hour was largely a case of the two sides feeling each other out, although McAnuff enjoyed another good run on the left, only to lose his footing in the box, and then just failed to get on the end of Chris Dagnall’s right-wing delivery on 17 minutes.
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The home side had the first real chance of note four minutes later when Scott Cuthbert, still wearing a protective mask, curled a sumptuous ball in from the right and Dossena, stealing in at the far post, steered it back beyond the right-hand upright.
And O’s went closer still on 27 minutes when Ryan Hedges helped the ball onto Marvin Bartley, despite being fouled by Cedric Evina, and his low cross was stabbed goalwards by Henderson but instinctively saved by Bywater at point-blank range.
There was more frustration on 34 minutes when Hedges found a bit of space inside the box on the right, but looked for a team-mate rather than have a shot at goal himself and saw the chance go begging.
Alex Cisak got his hands on the ball finally with only seven minutes left in the half to field a routine effort from Richie Wellens, as Doncaster enjoyed some rare possession in the home third.
And visiting skipper Jones appeared to get his hand on the ball at the other end moments later, when under pressure from Josh Wright in the box, but Orient’s penalty appeals were waved away by referee Carl Berry.
O’s had a let-off soon after when Kyle Bennett sent Wellens into space on the left and he teed up Curtis Main just inside the box, but his sidefooted effort was sent horribly wide of Cisak’s goal.
And there was another scare during stoppage time as Mathieu Baudry and Cisak got their wires crossed, with Bennett pressurising, and it needed Cuthbert to block his effort at the unguarded goal on the edge of the box.
Henderson was shown a yellow card within a minute of the restart and O’s had Cisak to thank for a diving save on 48 minutes as he pushed out Bennett’s low, right-footed effort from the left edge of the box.
Hedges then had his name taken and Bennett’s deep free-kick looked perfect for Main, but captain Clarke came to the rescue with a vital defensive header to concede a corner when a Doncaster goal looked inevitable.
The warning signs were there, though, and the visitors made the breakthrough on 58 minutes when Bennett whipped in another dangerous free-kick, conceded by McAnuff, and Jones met it to power home a bullet header from around 10 yards.
Liverani sent Lowry on for Dossena just past the hour mark, with the hosts suddenly looking quite shaky.
But they were frustrated again as Dagnall pulled the ball back from the byline for Baudry, and the chance just escaped the Frenchman.
Jay Simpson was then thrown into the mix for Hedges, with just under 20 minutes remaining, in a bid to bolster Orient’s attacking options.
And the Brisbane Road faithful did their best to rouse the home side, but Bywater kept out Lowry’s downward header from a corner with another reflex save.
Bywater proved Orient’s nemesis yet again on 78 minutes as Henderson did well to tee up Wright, whose shot from the edge of the box was palmed around the post.
And David Mooney was then summoned from the home bench in one final throw of the dice by Liverani, only for opposite number Paul Dickov to reinforce his defensive corps by sending on Jamie McCombe for Main for the final 10 minutes, as his side looked to hold onto their slender advantage.
Orient were denied a clear sight of goal until the last minute, when Simpson’s left-footed shot was beaten out by Bywater.
But five minutes of stoppage time could not yield an equaliser and the fight for survival goes on.
Leyton Orient: Cisak, Cuthbert, Baudry, McAnuff (Mooney 79), Clarke, Wright, Bartley, Dagnall, Henderson, Dossena (Lowry 62), Hedges (Simpson 71). Booked: Clarke, Henderson, Hedges, Bartley.
Unused subs: James, O’Neill, Sargeant, Taylor.
Referee: Carl Berry.
Attendance: 4,410 (including 249 Doncaster fans).
Yellow cards: 3-3
Shots on target: 4-3
Shots off target: 3-3