Lacklustre Leyton Orient lose at Brisbane Road for an eighth successive time
- Credit: Archant
Sky Bet League Two: Leyton Orient 0 Exeter City 1
Exeter City consigned Leyton Orient to a dismal eighth successive defeat at Brisbane Road in League Two.
Ollie Watkins first half strike proved the difference in east London with Alberto Cavasin’s team again struggling to create opportunities.
They huffed and puffed after the break, yet failed to produce a significant chance and drop to 22nd in the table.
Paul McCallum was handed a first start in the league since October 8 and partnered Jay Simpson up front with Ollie Palmer on the bench.
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A surprise inclusion, although a pleasing one, was 17-year-old Myles Judd at right-back making his first professional start for the club with Yvan Erichot absent due to injury and Nicky Hunt moving into the heart of O’s defence.
Sam Dalby, 16, was among the replacements and looking to make his first appearance for Orient in the league.
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Lloyd James started for Exeter against his former club alongside Jake Taylor, who spent some time on loan at Brisbane Road during the 2014/15 campaign.
After just four minutes McCallum combined with his strike partner after flicking on a long ball, though Simpson control.
Less than 60 seconds later and Robbie Weir had O’s first shot of the match, but it flew well wide of Christy Pym’s goal.
Rueben Reid showed his and Exeter’s threat in the eighth minute when he tried to muscle his way into the home box, but Callum Kennedy managed to clear the danger.
Nigel Atangana, who had started the game poorly, got away with a poor back pass in the 15th minute and by this point Exeter had began to get on top.
The Grecians momentum was halted when Hunt needed some treatment, though he was fine to continue.
Gavin Massey gave the ball away cheaply in the 23rd minute and it allowed Reid to run at the Orient back four.
Exeter’s forward played the ball to David Wheeler, but Tom Parkes made an excellent covering tackle.
Three minutes later and there was nobody to come to O’s rescue as the visitors took a deserved lead at Brisbane Road.
A long ball by Liam McAlinden to the back post picked out Wheeler and he passed inside for Watkins, who slotted into the corner.
Paul Tisdale’s team also immediately handed the hosts a lifeline when Simpson latched onto a poor back pass.
The Orient forward managed to get past Pym, yet Jordan Moore-Taylor did well to crowd him out.
Simpson tried to pick out Collins in space, though his pass was intercepted and Exeter remained in front.
O’s number 27 blazed over with half an hour played when Collins was better placed, but Cavasin’s team had made an encouraging response to going behind.
And in the 35th minute Massey won Orient a free kick in a dangerous position after McCallum and Simpson had combined again.
Surprisingly Hunt stepped up and tried his luck with a Ronaldo-esque attempt, which went just over.
Reid headed an excellent opportunity wide with just five minutes of the first half remaining, but fortunately for him he was offside.
The lack of marking in the O’s area was a concern, however, and they appeared to be panicking as the break approached.
Alex Cisak came for a long cross and could only get a slight touch, which allowed Reid to hook across goal, yet nobody was able to convert.
Fear appeared to suddenly take over the hosts, but the supporters in the South Stand tried to urge them on with cries of Come on Orient.
It seemed to lift the players as Atangana, poor up until this point, skipped past three challenges to get his team on the front foot.
Collins linked up impressively with Simpson and delivered a wonderful cross, which Moore-Taylor luckily sliced behind for a corner.
The set-piece came to nothing and despite three minutes of stoppage time it remained 1-0 to Exeter at half time.
Boos rang out at Brisbane Road with O’s heading for another defeat, yet the fans applauded Judd, the last player to leave the field.
Cavasin made a double change at half time with Kennedy and Robbie Weir making way and Alan Dunne and Sandro Semedo replacing them.
The decision to take off Weir was greeted by cheers from the Orient fans and they switched to 4-4-2.
Judd moved to left-back with Dunne on the right and Semedo and Massey in their favoured left and right midfield roles.
It was Exeter who created the first opportunity of the second period, yet McAlinden’s weak effort was saved by Cisak.
Semedo switched wings afterwards and it helped O’s get back on the front foot with two of his crosses winning corner kicks.
Orient couldn’t make the most of either, yet it lifted the spirits of the fans and the South Stand was full of voice.
McCallum was then withdrawn just before the hour mark with Palmer replacing him to a mixture of cheers and boos.
The O’s continued to pose more of a threat with Massey getting some joy back on his favoured right side.
A cross from the winger picked out Atangana and he forced Pym into a good save from six-yards.
Atangana swipped at the rebound and it hit an Exeter defender before falling into Simpson’s path with the goal at his mercy.
Grecians Craig Woodman made a sensational block to deflect the shot over the crossbar and keep the score at 1-0.
Parkes headed the resulting corner off target and with 20 minutes remaining, Orient still trailed.
Exeter managed to slow the game down after that passage of play and O’s struggled to create chances.
Reid nearly put the contest to bed in the 80th minute when Parkes slipped and he got in on goal, but Hunt was able to block his cross-cum-shot.
Massey was still looking a threat at the other end and did well to stand up a cross in the 85th minute, yet Orient had nobody positioned well enough to finish.
Robbie Simpson was introduced by the Grecians against his old club with two minutes remaining as the seconds ticked away at Brisbane Road.
Some home supporters began to chant about chairman Francesco Becchetti before four minutes of stoppage time was added on.
Collins had won O’s a free kick by this point after a studs up tackle by substitute Matt Oakley and took the set-piece.
Unfortunately Exeter managed to clear and more precious seconds drifted away in east London.
Palmer won Orient another free kick and although Massey’s delivery was good, the visitors again defended resolutely.
The full time whistle followed soon after to hand the east Londoners an eighth successive defeat at Brisbane Road.
It drops them down to 22nd in the table, outside the bottom two on goal difference, ahead of visit Doncaster Rovers on Saturday.
Leyton Orient: Cisak; Judd, Hunt, Parkes, Kennedy (Dunne 46); Weir (Semedo 46; Atangana, Massey; Collins; Simpson, McCallum (Palmer 59).
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Pollock, Dalby, Ochieng.
Exeter City: Pym; Sweeney, Croll, Moore-Taylor, Woodman; Wheeler (Stacey 66), James, Taylor, McAlinden (Oakley 65); Watkins; Reid.
Unused substitutes: Olejnik, Simpson, Grant, Jay, Brown.
Attendance: 2,926 (316 Exeter City supporters).