Loss ends Orient’s automatic hopes
- Credit: Archant
League One: Crawley 2 Leyton Orient 1
Orient’s hopes of automatic promotion to the Championship were ended once and for all with defeat in Sussex on Good Friday.
Chris Dagnall cancelled out Crawley’s opener, from Gwion Edwards, just before the break but Adam Drury’s second-half header proved the difference.
And defeat left Russell Slade’s men 10 points adrift of second-placed Brentford, who beat Preston at Griffin Park, with three games remaining.
Orient had taken no points from their previous three meetings with Crawley, losing 3-2 at Brisbane Road when sitting at the top of the table just before Christmas.
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But the visitors, cheered on by a large travelling support, edged the opening exchanges, with Moses Odubajo producing a strong run on the right to no avail.
Paul Jones gathered under pressure from Dagnall, as he looked to latch onto Mathieu Baudry’s long ball, before Elliot Omozusi went close to his first career goal on 12 minutes, from Dagnall’s pass.
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The visitors began to take more control of play after that and a well-worked corner routine midway through the half ended with Romain Vincelot’s header forcing a save from Jones from a Lloyd James corner.
David Mooney cut the ball back for Dean Cox to whip a shot just wide a minute later, as O’s began to gather momentum.
But Crawley then broke the deadlock against the run of play on 26 minutes as Dannie Bulman centred from the right and Edwards slotted past Jamie Jones.
Mooney was inches away from an immediate response, sending Dagnall’s cross just wide, but Dagnall could not make good enough contact on a superb delivery from James on 34 minutes.
Cox and Odubajo swapped flanks as Orient looked to get back on terms before the interval.
And the visitors did in fact draw level when Baudry knocked down a James corner for Dagnall to prod home from close range with five minutes left in the half for his fifth goal for the club.
Crawley made the brighter start to the second half and created the first chance of note on 53 minutes when Edwards advanced on the left and curled a shot just over the crossbar.
But Mooney, having reached the 20-goal mark in the previous week’s win over Gillingham, then tried his luck from 25 yards just before the hour and saw his effort go narrowly wide.
The home side went close again soon after when Edwards forced Jones into a good save, before seeing a header cleared off the line by Odubajo.
And O’s boss Slade made a double change midway through the half, sending John Lundstram and Shaun Batt on for James and goalscorer Dagnall.
Crawley were back in front on 70 minutes, though, when a deep cross from Mike Jones found Drury at the far post to head home.
And after Mooney failed to make decent contact with a volleyed chance on 77 minutes, Crawley saw Edwards tee up Josh Simpson moments later, only for Jones to make a good low save to deny them a third.
Slade sent Jamie Ness on for Vincelot with 11 minutes remaining but Cox saw his left-footed drive from outside the box fly wide of the top corner as Orient’s Crawley hoodoo continued.
They welcome table-topping Wolves to Brisbane Road for a 12.15pm kick-off on Bank Holiday Monday. And the majority in the sell-out crowd will be hoping their favourites can come through the play-offs unscathed to earn promotion.
Crawley: Jones, Sadler, Connolly, McFadzean, Drury, Simpson (Torres 86), Walsh, Bulman, Tubbs (Proctor 60), Jones, Edwards.
Unused subs: Essam, Fallon, Monakana, Dicker.
Orient: Jones, Omozusi, Vincelot (Ness 79), Cuthbert, Baudry, Cox, James (Lundstram 66), Mooney, Odubajo, Clarke, Dagnall (Batt 66).
Unused subs: Sawyer, Larkins, Lasimant, Simpson.
Referee: Mick Russell.
Attendance: 4,387 (including 1,171 Orient fans).