Cox and Clarke help rewrite history books as Orient win at Port Vale
21:39 11 March 2014
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League One: Port Vale 0 Leyton Orient 2
Dean Cox’s wonderful finish and captain Nathan Clarke’s first for the club secured Orient’s first win at Port Vale in 57 years.
In a game of few chances the winger fired a shot in off the underside of the crossbar four minutes before half-time after fine build-up play by David Mooney and Moses Odubajo.
And Clarke scored his first goal for the O’s at the 79th time of asking 12 minutes into the second half, a downward header from a Lloyd James corner.
Just as important was James’ brilliant goalline clearance to deny Doug Loft minutes before the captain’s goal in the second half when the net seemed certain to bulge.
It sets up a huge sell-out game against promotion rivals Brentford on Saturday, who are a point behind second-placed Orient with two games in hand.
The only change from Saturday’s draw at Notts County saw top scorer Mooney return from a rib injury, Kevin Lisbie dropping to the bench.
Vale started strongly without really testing visiting goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic.
A miscued header by O’s captain Nathan Clarke almost let in Vale top scorer Tom Pope but he could not bring the ball under control.
Ben Williamson fired a cross across the face of goal after a quick break but they did not have a decent effort on target in the opening period.
Orient came into the game more and more as the half wore on, despite losing Romain Vincelot to injury – he was on the end of a heavy challenge by former O’s midfielder Anthony Griffith and was replaced by Marvin Bartley.
Cox fired into the side netting after 25 minutes but made no mistake just over a quarter of an hour later, giving Valiants goalkeeper Chris Neal no chance from the edge of the area for his 12th goal of the season.
Chris Dagnall had an excellent chance to extend the lead shortly after half-time, latching onto a short back pass from Carl Dickinson, going around Neal but running out of room.
But minutes later Orient were indebted to James’ superb goalline block from Loft’s header to prevent what looked a certain goal.
And the true value of the Welshman’s intervention became clear when, after Dagnall had nodded just wide, Clarke attacked James’ corner to send the 224 travelling supporters into raptures.
Vale still offered a threat and piled on the pressure in the final half an hour.
Trinidad and Tobago international Chris Birchall and Jennison Myrie-Williams brought outstanding saves out of Jakupovic, Williamson had goals disallowed and substitute Billy Knott crashed a shot against the crossbar.
But the hosts could not find a response and Chris Dagnall fluffed a great chance to extend the lead after nicking the ball of Vale defender Chris Robertson.
With Wolves, Brentford and Rotherham all winning, it was a crucial three points as the season enters its final 10 games.
Leyton Orient: Jakupovic; Omozusi, Cuthbert, Clarke, Sawyer; Odubajo, Vincelot (Bartley 19), James, Cox; Mooney (Batt 73), Dagnall (Simpson 87). Substitutes not used: Lisbie, Larkins, Lasimant, Ness.