League Two: Plymouth Argyle 4 Leyton Orient 0
- Credit: Archant
Carl Fletcher’s first game in charge of Orient was turned into a nightmare by his former club at Home Park.
The Welsh international, who managed Argyle for 15 months, named an unchanged starting line-up following Saturday's 4-0 win at Grimsby Town, while including Jamie Turley and Hector Kyprianou on the bench as Myles Judd and Shadrach Ogie missed out due to injury and family reasons.
But after James Dayton curled wide from Orient's first meaningful attack of the night, Fletcher saw his new team fall behind on 14 minutes as Joel Grant smashed home after Dean Brill had denied Antoni Sarcevic and Zak Rudden.
O's felt the ball had been handled in the build-up to the goal and it got worse three minutes later as George Cooper crossed low into the six-yard box and Rudden produced a deft header into the bottom corner to make it 2-0.
Argyle had scored twice in the space of three minutes to beat Orient in the Carabao Cup in mid-August, having taken an hour to break through on that occasion, and looked much the better side.
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O's found themselves only one point behind their hosts in the league table at the start of this meeting, though, thanks to a four-game unbeaten run in the final three weeks under interim head coach Ross Embleton.
And they steadied themselves after their double setback, with James Brophy starting to find space and Dan Happe lifting an effort over the crossbar from distance just before the half-hour mark.
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Marvin Ekpiteta's right-footed shot from a difficult angle on the right was also too high, but Plymouth extended their lead on 34 minutes when Callum McFadzean beat the unsighted Brill from the edge of the box, for his first goal since breaking the deadlock in August.
McFadzean went close again just before the interval, firing into the side netting, but Argyle added a fourth in stoppage time when Brill pushed out a cross but saw it rebound off the back of Joe Widdowson and into his own net.
Fletcher replaced Dayton with Louis Dennis during the break, but Brill was soon sprawling to save from Rudden after he was played in behind the O's defence by Sarcevic.
Argyle keeper Alex Palmer was called into action on the hour, though, to keep out a firm far post header from Happe at a corner and Fletcher made his second change soon after, with James Alabi coming on for Matt Harrold.
Scott Wootton was booked for a bad challenge on Dennis midway through the second half, after teammate George Cooper had earlier been shown a yellow card for kicking the ball away, and Jordan Maguire-Drew replaced Dale Gorman in Orient's third substitution of the night with 18 minutes left.
Alabi, fresh from his goal at Grimsby, curled a shot over Palmer and just wide of the far post as the visitors continued to search for a consolation, but Plymouth substitute Billy Clarke went close in similar fashion at the other end.
Maguire-Drew then saw an 85th-minute effort deflected onto the top of the crossbar, before Dennis cut inside and fired against a post and Craig Clay's follow-up was diverted inches wide by Alabi.
It summed up Orient's miserable night in Devon and Maguire-Drew also fired over in the last minute of normal time after making some space for himself.
Fletcher must now focus on lifting his players for their home match against Carlisle on Saturday.
Orient: Brill, Ekpiteta, Coulson, Happe, Widdowson, Dayton (Dennis 46), Wright, Clay, Brophy, Gorman (Maguire-Drew 72), Harrold (Alabi 64).
Unused subs: Sargeant, Marsh, Turley, Kyprianou.
Attendance: 8,810 (including 224 Orient fans).