Orient cannot tame Wolves
- Credit: PA Wire/Press Association Images
League One: Leyton Orient 1 Wolves 3
Orient could not deny table-topping Wolves the win that took them to the brink of the League One title at Brisbane Road.
First-half goals from Richard Stearman and Bakary Sako put the visitors on top at the break, but Dean Cox’s early reply after the restart gave Russell Slade’s men hope.
And they went close to drawing level, as Shaun Batt’s header came back off the crossbar with 19 minutes remaining.
James Henry added a last-gasp third as Wolves claimed the three points to all but clinch top spot, but waiting for Brentford’s result against MK Donsto be 100 per cent certain before starting their title party.
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O’s boss Slade brought Gary Sawyer and John Lundstram into his starting line-up in place of Elliot Omozusi and Lloyd James, following the Good Friday defeat at Crawley.
And captain Nathan Clarke was spoken to by referee Neil Swarbrick for a robust early challenge from behind on Michael Jacobs, before the skipper had to be alert to turn a dangerous low cross from the same Wolves player behind for a corner on five minutes.
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Kevin McDonald’s low curling shot provided the game’s first attempt on target seconds later and forced a diving save from Jamie Jones.
But O’s slowly began to find their feet and Lundstram’s incisive through ball almost found Chris Dagnall’s run into the box on nine minutes.
Moses Odubajo drew a foul from Sako on the right three minutes later, only for Dean Cox’s free kick to clear everyone in the box.
But Odubajo was then found by a good diagonal ball from David Mooney and saw a deep cross headed behind for a corner, which also sadly came to nothing.
However, a mistake by Mathieu Baudry at the other end was seized upon by Nouha Dicko, with Sawyer’s challenge conceding a corner.
And when the subsequent right-wing delivery was flicked on by Danny Batth, who appeared to climb on Scott Cuthbert, Wolves centre-back Stearman arrived untracked at the far post to steer a header past Jones and into the roof of the net with 17 minutes on the clock.
Jones saved low to his left to keep out Sako’s 25-yard drive on 25 minutes, as Wolves began to look threatening in attack.
But O’s had their best chance to that point moments later when Cox swung in a cross from the left and Baudry sent a header just over the angle of crossbar and post.
Then Mooney saw a full-blooded drive hit the arm of Stearman, stationed just inside the box, but Orient’s penalty appeals were controversially turned down by Swarbrick.
The home side’s mood darkened further on 32 minutes as Sako helped a throw-in on to Dicko, who nodded the ball back towards his teammate to send inside the far post for the second Wolves goal.
And the visitors then proceeded to play the ball around in some comfort for a short spell, while Swarbrick took the names of Jack Price and Clarke for clear fouls.
Mooney forced a good low save from Carl Ikeme four minutes before the break, after cutting in from the left, but it was a rare sight of the Wolves goal for Orient’s 20-goal Irish striker.
The hosts ended the half well, though, and Cox saw a shot deflected behind, from Odubajo’s square ball, before Clarke’s bullet header from the corner was superbly tipped over by Ikeme.
Then Mooney saw a hard cross on the turn tipped behind, before Romain Vincelot’s header from the corner came back off the crossbar and Dagnall’s follow-up effort was ruled offside in a marginal decision.
The second half was only 20 seconds old when Dagnall beat the offside trap and smashed a shot at Ikeme, who then managed to turn Mooney’s attempt behind for a corner, after Odubajo had kept the move alive.
But the near misses gave Orient hope and when Cuthbert sent a deep cross into the box moments later, Mooney and Dagnall combined to tee up Cox, whose low side-footed effort went through the legs of Batth and found the corner of the net to the delight of the majority in a sell-out crowd.
The hosts had a let-off on 59 minutes, when Price crossed from the right and Dicko flashed the ball across the face of goal at the second attempt.
But O’s had a great chance to level when Odubajo’s cross from the right was spilled by Ikeme, under pressure from Baudry, and Mooney lifted the loose ball over the crossbar.
Slade sent Shaun Batt on for Dagnall midway through the half, but O’s had Jones to thank for a good save to deny David Edwards soon after.
And the home side were left wondering how they did not score on 71 minutes when Clarke swung a cross in from the left and, when it came back off Ikeme, Batt headed against the crossbar, before Mooney’s effort was somehow cleared off the line by a combination of the Wolves keeper and one of his defenders.
Ikeme needed treatment after being left with a bloody nose and the delay robbed Orient of their momentum somewhat.
Slade sent James and Yohann Lasimant on for Vincelot and Mooney, respectively, as opposite number Kenny Jackett also turned to his bench to make three changes of his own.
But the scoreline remained unchanged until the closing seconds as James Henry sent a superb 30-yard shot into the bottom corner to move Wolves to the brink of the title and Orient with just one win in their last eight outings.
Orient: Jones, Cuthbert, Sawyer, Vincelot (James 75), Baudry, Clarke, Odubajo, Lundstram, Dagnall (Batt 66), Mooney (Lasimant 83), Cox.
Unused subs: Larkins, Gorman, Simpson, Ness.
Wolves: Ikeme, Ricketts, Golbourne, Price, Stearman, Batth, Jacobs (Henry 74), McDonald, Dicko (Clarke 74), Edwards, Sako (Evans 83).
Unused subs: Doherty, McAlindon, Ebanks-Landell, McCarey.
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.