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Robin Cottle at Brisbane Road
Saturday, April 12, 2014
League One: Leyton Orient 5 Gillingham 1
David Mooney’s brace reignited Orient’s promotion charge as Gillingham were put to the sword by a super first half performance at Brisbane Road.
The O’s were 4-0 up within 35 minutes as they moved back up to third in League One although hopes of catching Brentford in second remain slim.
Irish striker Mooney set the hosts on the way inside four minutes and after Dean Cox and Kevin Lisbie had added to Gills’ misery, Mooney tapped in to end the game as a contest before the break.
Substitute Chris Dagnall came on to score his fifth goal of the season 12 minutes from time.
Manager Russell Slade made two changes from last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Sheffield United.
He ditched the 4-5-1 formation used at Bramall Lane, with Romain Vincelot returning from injury and top scorer Mooney being recalled in place of Lloyd James and Jamie Ness, who dropped to the bench.
On the day football remembered the 96 Liverpool fans who lost their lives in the Hillsborough tragedy 25 years ago, perhaps it was fitting that Scouser John Lundstram, on loan from Everton, was instrumental in Orient’s dominant opening.
Within four minutes the midfielder had slipped in Mooney with a cute pass, the striker making no mistake as he beat Stuart Nelson at his near post.
Four minutes later it was 2-0 as Lundstram played in Omozusi, who worked it to Cox through Mooney – and the winger smashed in a shot from the edge of the area for his 14th goal of an increasingly prolific season.
A brief lull followed although the mid-table visitors rarely threatened to get back into the game.
It took 28 minutes to test home goalkeeper Jamie Jones, and he comfortably saved Amine Linganzi’s near post effort.
Elliot Hewitt and Adam Barrett headed well over the crossbar and a quick-fire double killed the game just after the half hour mark.
Patient build-up play ended with Moses Odubajo whipping in a devilish cross for Kevin Lisbie to power home a header, his first goal since February 11.
And less than a minute later it was 4-0. Gillingham right back Michael Harriman lost the ball to Lisbie and he crossed for strike partner Mooney to bury his 20th goal of the season, the first time he’s reached that particular landmark in his career.
There was still time in the first period for Lisbie and Cox to be denied by desperate last gasp blocks as Orient roared to one of their most impressive first half performances of the season.
Some of the Gills’ impressive away following of 1,154 headed for the exits long before the final whistle as the second half failed to hit the heights of what went before it.
Linganzi saw a shot deflected just wide early in the second half but the visitors failed to force Jones into a serious save all afternoon. And but for a last ditch block by Barrett, Lisbie would have made it 5-0 from close range.
Lisbie was denied by the legs of Nelson before Dagnall did make it five with a low shot from the edge of the penalty area before Craig Fagan scored a late consolation via the legs of Mathieu Baudry.
Despite the win the east Londoners still trail London rivals Brentford by seven points with four games remaining.
The play-offs still looks like the most likely route for the O’s into the Championship, but this result and performance will have done confidence the world of good after a run of one win in seven games.
Orient: Jones; Cuthbert, Baudry, Clarke, Omozusi; Odubajo, Lundstram, Vincelot (Ness 70), Cox; Mooney (Dagnall 70), Lisbie (Batt 78). Substitutes not used: Larkins, Sawyer, Simpson, James.