Ajose’s late goal sinks battling Orient
League One: Crawley Town 1 Leyton Orient 0
Orient were left searching for their first point of the season after they were sunk by Nicky Ajose’s goal 18 minutes from time.
But, despite the defeat, O’s, manager Russell Slade could at least takes some positives as the visitors dominated the early stages and looked far more inventive than in their previous games, before they ran out of steam in the closing stages.
The exertions of Wednesday night’s Capital One Cup clash at Goodison Park seemed to take its toll in the second half and as O’s became more stretched it was Crawley that struck the killer blow.
Orient manager Russell Slade made five changes to the side that had been beaten 5-0 at Everton and must have been pleased with the response.
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Ryan Allsop, Leon McSweeney, Martin Rowlands, Lee Cook and Michael Symes all came into the starting 11 as Jamie Jones and Lloyd James were ruled out with injuries, while Mattieu Baudry, Kevin Lisbie and Jimmy Smith dropped to the bench.
Rowlands operated just in front of the back four, while Anthony Griffith played in a more central role, with Lee Cook on the left and Moses Odubajo wide right.
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And it was the visitors who controlled the first 30 minutes and went close on several occasions.
Rowlands set the tone after just two minutes with a shot that home keeper and former O’s number One Paul Jones pushed away.
Then the former QPR man was booked by referee Phillip Gibbs, when he went down in the box too easily.
Dean Cox, playing just behind Michael Symes then shot just over after he robbed Crawley’s Hope Akpan.
Odubajo’s pace caused problems for the home side and he sent an effort inches wide after a solo run.
Then Symes, who led he line well, almost scored with an audacious effort from distance when he spotted Jones off his line.
Minutes later Symes went close again, but it was Crawley who ended the half in the driving seat and Allsop, making his league debut for the O’s in place of the injured Jones, who kept them on terms when he denied Nicky Adams with a smart save just before the break.
Crawley were quick out of the blocks at the start of the second half and Ben Chorley and Nathan Clarke both made important blocks.
But O’s started to find their feet and after some good build up play Symes went close again.
However, as the home side started to take a grip, the O’s had a let off on 64 minutes when Ajose raced through, rounded Allsop, and then just rolled the ball inches wide as he was flattened by Clarke.
As O’s started to become more and more stretched Crawley grabbed the lead on 72 minutes when Ajose found time and space in the Orient area and threaded the ball past Allsop.
Orient boss Slade responded by throwing Kevin Lisbie into the action in place of Odubajo and the O’s threw men forward, but they failed to carve out a chance for the all-important leveller
Crawley: Jones, Sadler, McFadzean, Akpan, Clarke (Jones 69 mins), Alexander, Simpson, Hunt, Ajose (Forte 82 mins), Adams, Davis (Cooper 52 mins). Subs: Connolly, Walsh, Bulman, Kuipers.
Crawley bookings: Akpan (30 mins foul), Hunt (89 mins foul)
Orient: Allsop, Sweeney, Clarke, Chorley, Sawyer, Rowlands (Smith 80 mins), Odubajo (Lisbie 72 mins), Griffith, Cooke (Mooney 65 mins), Cox, Symes. Subs: Grainger, Baudry, Laird, Brunt..
Orient bookings: Rowlands (2 mins unsporting behaviour), Griffith (57 mins foul)
Attendance: 3,287, (in 679 Orient fans)