Orient promotion challenge falters with Bristol City horror show
21:42 11 February 2014
League One: Leyton Orient 1 Bristol City 3
Orient’s promotion hopes took a severe dent as a disastrous start condemned them to defeat at home to struggling Bristol City.
Goals from Sam Baldock and Tyrone Barnett inside the opening 12 minutes were enough for the Robins to inflict the O’s third successive defeat – having taken them 20 games to lose their first three games.
Kevin Lisbie pulled one back just before half-time with a typical poacher’s finish but it was not enough to salvage anything from the game, as Aden Flint capitalised on a mistake by the shaky Shwan Jalal in the home goal to clinch the points.
It was only the visitors’ second away win in League One this season as the O’s missed the chance to return to the top of the table, having now played a game more than promotion rivals Brentford and Wolves.
Orient made three changes from Saturday’s last gasp defeat against Peterborough.
Elliot Omozusi failed to recover from a groin injury picked up at the weekend with Gary Sawyer deputising.
Marvin Bartley was included in place of Lloyd James and Lisbie came in for David Mooney, with the Irishman making his first start in two months against Posh.
But after throwing away three points at the weekend, Orient got off to the worst possible start.
Jay Emmanuel-Thomas picked out the Robins’ captain Baldock, who scored in the reverse fixture in November, and he cut inside on his left foot and beat Shwan Jalal at his near post.
And within 12 minutes it was 2-0. Scott Cuthbert needlessly conceded a corner, and Tyrone Barnett ghosted in unmarked to head in Marlon Pack’s delivery.
Jalal looked uncomfortable every time he came for a cross and the departure of Eldin Jakupovic, recalled by Hull City after Allan McGregor’s red card against Crystal Palace, is being keenly felt.
It is three defeats in three since the Bosnian-Swiss goalkeeper left, having conceded one goal in four games during his brief spell at Brisbane Road.
And the O’s have shipped seven goals in that time.
Baldock could have doubled his tally but had a goal ruled out for a foul on Jalal by Barnett before the latter was put through but flagged offside.
Baldock was causing the O’s defence all sorts of defenders and his clever pass should have been dispatched by left-back Greg Cunningham but he completed missed his kick inside the penalty area.
But the hosts grew into the game as the half progressed and grabbed a potential lifeline a minute before the break.
Visiting goalkeeper Simon Moore spilled Dean Cox’s long range effort and Kevin Lisbie showed his predatory instincts to snaffle the rebound.
The 35-year-old had the chance to equalise but headed over the bar from Cox’s corner, and the second half brought wave after wave of Orient pressure.
Moore was booked for time wasting as Bristol City were content to sit on their lead and the visitors survived despite some mad goalmouth scrambles.
Mooney came on with just over 25 minutes remaining and went close on a couple of occasions but the Robins hit their hosts with the ultimate sucker punch to claim the points.
Cunningham’s cross from the left should have been meat and drink for Jalal the Bournemouth loanee was caught in no-man’s land and Flint headed into the empty net with just over a quarter of hour remaining.
It knocked the stuffing out of Orient and they travel to Preston on Saturday with their automatic promotion challenge very much in the balance.
North End are just five points behind Orient with a game in hand going into the game at Deepdale.
Cox went close with two late chances but he failed to hit the target both times.
Leyton Orient: Jalal; Cuthbert, Baudry, Clarke, Sawyer; Odubajo, Vincelot, Bartley (Ness 78), Cox; Dagnall (Mooney 64), Lisbie (Lasimant 84).
Substitutes not used: Larkins, James, Loza, Simpson.