It’s all Wright for Leyton Orient
- Credit: EMPICS Sport
Sky Bet League One: Coventry City 0 Leyton Orient 1
Josh Wright’s first goal for Leyton Orient earned three crucial points in their fight for League One survival as they climbed out of the bottom four for the first time in over two months.
Midfielder Wright struck 12 minutes from time at the Ricoh Arena to down fellow strugglers Coventry, who hit the woodwork and had an effort cleared off the line, and lift O’s two points clear of the drop with seven matches remaining.
And they could take another big step towards safety with a third successive win over Gillingham at Brisbane Road on Bank Holiday Monday.
Fabio Liverani made three changes to his starting line-up following Saturday’s 3-1 success over Port Vale, with Nathan Clarke and Shane Lowry coming into the back four for Luke O’Neill and Gary Sawyer, while Darius Henderson returned in attack in place of David Mooney, who missed out with a rib injury.
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But the Italian was then forced into another late change before kick-off when Dean Cox suffered a groin strain in the warm-up, with Jobi McAnuff thrown back into action on his return from international duty with Jamaica.
Jim O’Brien fired an early chance over the hosts, who moved three points clear of trouble with a 1-0 win at Peterborough at the weekend, but had to make an early change on 11 minutes as Dominic Samuel limped off – not long after a strong challenge from Marvin Bartley – to be replaced by George Thomas.
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And Orient had a chance with a free-kick on 15 minutes, following a foul on Chris Dagnall 20 yards out, but Wright’s delivery evaded Clarke at the far post.
Coventry went close two minutes later as Grant Ward’s curling free-kick flew just over the bar, but Lowry then headed a Wright corner straight at Lee Burge and an unmarked Mathieu Baudry saw another header from a corner deflected just wide on 28 minutes.
Coventry’s Frank Nouble had his name taken by referee Darren Bond for a late challenge on Lowry, but then almost created the opening goal for the home side after his cross was flicked inches wide by captain O’Brien.
O’s went close themselves in first-half stoppage time, though, as Scott Cuthbert’s long throw-in found 12-goal Dagnall, whose close-range header was parried clear by Burge.
The second half was barely a minute old when O’Brien saw his shot deflected over the bar and O’s had a let-off from the corner as Ward played it short and then cut inside before curling his right-footed effort against the far post.
The visitors had another escape on 51 minutes when Alex Cisak parried a cross and Thomas sent the ball goalwards, only for Baudry to make a superb goalline clearance.
Cisak redeemed himself with a save to keep out Ward’s dipping 20-yard attempt two minutes later, before Aaron Martin headed Ward’s corner just over at the near post.
The pressure was mounting on Liverani’s men, but they got a sight of the Coventry goal on 55 minutes when Dagnall headed Lowry’s free-kick at Burge.
Liverani made his first change on the hour as Jake Taylor made way for Ryan Hedges, who had helped Wales under-21s beat Bulgaria only 24 hours earlier in Cardiff.
But the visitors remained camped in their own half as Coventry went close again when Ward swung in a cross that was inches away from Chris Stokes and Sanmi Odelusi saw a left-footed drive deflected into the hands of Cisak.
Lloyd James replaced McAnuff midway through the half, having come off the bench for the last five minutes against Port Vale following his recovery from a broken leg, and O’s reverted to a 4-5-1 formation, with the Welshman sitting in front of the back four and Dagnall moved out to the left.
Henderson was left to plough a lone furrow up top and the big striker had strong claims for a penalty 16 minutes from time after going down in the box, but Bond waved play on.
The deadlock was broken soon after, though, when Wright fired home after great work by Dagnall to find him in space at the far post.
Coventry boss Tony Mowbray made a double change with nine minutes left, sending Blair Turgott and Ryan Haynes on for Odelusi and O’Brien, respectively.
And Liverani used his last substitute when sending defender Elliot Omozusi on for Dagnall, reverting to a 5-3-1-1 line-up for the last five minutes of normal time and the four additional minutes tacked on for stoppages.
The travelling fans roared their approval during the closing stages as O’s defended for all their worth in an admirable backs-to-the-wall effort to hold on for three vital points.
But there are sure to be more twists and turns yet before the relegation issue is settled once and for all.
Leyton Orient: Cisak, Cuthbert, Baudry, Clarke, Lowry; McAnuff (James 68), Wright, Bartley, Taylor (Hedges 59); Henderson, Dagnall (Omozusi 85).
Unused subs: Simpson, Plasmati, Woods.
Referee: Darren Bond.
Attendance: 8,010 (including 596 Orient fans).