Robin Cottle, Reporter
Thursday, December 26, 2013
League One: Gillingham 1 Leyton Orient 2
Orient sub Yohann Lasimant was the hero as his last minute goal saw the O’s come from behind to hold on to top spot in League One.
The French forward headed in after Gillingham goalkeeper Stuart Nelson missed Nathan Clarke’s deep cross.
Marvin Bartley had equalised with 20 minutes remaining, heading in from Dean Cox’s corner to render Elliott Omozusi’s missed penalty irrelevant.
Adebayo Akinfenwa gave Gillingham the perfect start at Priestfield after less than two minutes.
The big striker looped a header in from Jake Hessenthaler’s corner for his third goal in two games.
Omozusi missed a great chance to equalise when Kevin Lisbie weas fouled by Leon Legge in the penalty area.
The defender stepped up but saw his spot kick well saved by Stuart Nelson in the Gills goal.
But Bartley and Lasimant’s headers ensured they stay top ahead of a crucial trip to promotion rivals Wolves on Sunday
Orient made four changes from Saturday’s defeat to Crawley.
Cox and Omozusi returned from illness and suspension respectively in place of Lasimant and Gary Sawyer.
Lloyd James was suspended for picking up his fifth yellow card of the season, giving away the penalty against Crawley and Bartley, who scored as a substitute on Saturday, replaced him.
Goalkeeper Jamie Jones missed out with a stress injury to his back that could keep him out for three months and Jake Larkins stepped in.
Orient won 3-1 at Priestfield in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy but this encounter was a much more difficult affair.
After the nightmare start, when Hessenthaler could have extended Gillingham’s lead, Orient worked their way back into the game.
Lisbie headed wide from Cox’s free-kick as his goal drought continued - the striker hasn’t scored since netting the winner at the end of October against Rotherham.
Then came the crucial moment when Omozusi spurned his chance from 12 yards before Cody McDonald missed a good chance to score for the hosts.
The visitors’ problems were compounded as Shaun Batt was forced off with an injury four minutes before the interval, Robbie Simpson coming on to replace him.
They were enjoying more of the ball but were struggling to create clear cut chances without the influential James in midfield and Mooney, serving the last of a three game ban, up front.
McDonald dragged a shot wide after being put behind Orient’s defence and the away side struggled to test Nelson in the Gillingham goal.
But Bartley popped up in the right place at the right time to save the visitors.
From then on it was all Orient.
Cox almost won it but his shot was well saved by Nelson before the goalkeeper saved from substitute Simpson after dropping a cross.
And fellow sub Lasimant nearly made an instant impact with minutes remaining, collecting Simpson’s pass but seeing his shot agonisingly cleared off the line by Legge.
But not to be denied, Lasimant sent the away fans into raptures with a last gasp goal as Orient clung on to top spot ahead of the trip to Molineux.
Striker David Mooney, who served the last game of a three match ban, will not be fit enough to return against Wolves due to a foot injury.
Orient: Larkins; Cuthbert (Sawyer 70), Baudry, Clarke, Omozusi; Odubajo, Vincelot, Bartley, Cox; Lisbie (Lasimant 86), Batt (Simpson 41). Substitutes not used: Lee, Gorman, Ling, Grainger.