Chambers scores winner for Walsall to haunt old club Orient
Walsall 1 Leyton Orient 0
Midfielder Adam Chambers came back to haunt his former team-mates when he scored the only goal of the game to send Orient crashing to defeat in their opening League One encounter of the season.
The veteran midfielder, who was the club’s longest-serving player before his move to Walsall last month, smashed home the winner on 21 minutes when he sent a shot crashing past Lee Butcher in the visiting goal and into the top left-hand corner of the net.
The 30-year-old, who spent five years at Orient and made 163 league starts, could not have wished for a better start to his career at Walsall, hammering home a spectacular opener – his first goal since December 2009!
It was a bitter blow for the O’s, who just missed out on a play-off place last season because of a poor start to the campaign, as they enjoyed their fair share of possession in both halves, but rarely tested home keeper James Walker.
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O’s boss Russell Slade saw his side hit by injuries as skipper Stephen Dawson (ankle), Jamie Jones (shoulder), David Mooney (hamstring), Terrell Forbes (stomach) and Marc Laird (thigh), were all ruled out.
So much travelled striker Jamie Cureton, Leon McSweeney and Scott Cuthbert all made their league debuts for the O’s and there was a place on the bench for new loan signing Michael Richardson, who has joined on a month-long loan from Newcastle.
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It was O’s who created the first chance when Jimmy Smith tried his luck in the second minute with a long-range shot, but the effort drifted wide.
But it was the home side who started to take a grip and Claude Gnakpa sent an effort past Lee Butcher’s post from outside the area, before Will Grigg saw a shot blocked by Matthew Spring and the ball was deflected for a corner.
Jonathan Macken shot wide for the Saddlers and Gnakpa saw an effort saved by Butcher, but it was not all one way traffic and Cureton, on his O’s debut, sent in a shot from the edge of the area that flew just wide.
But it was Walsall that broke the deadlock on 21 minutes when Chambers hammered home a 30-yard effort to put the skids under his former team-mates.
O’s tried to hit back and Ben Chorley headed over following a Charlie Daniels corner. But the home side looked the more threatening as Gnakpa tested Butcher, before Macken fired over the bar.
After the break Smith went close to levelling when Charlie Daniels crossed from the left and his header looked to be heading into the net until keeper Walker clawed the ball away.
It was Smith who went close again eight minutes later with another header, but again Walker was there and tipped the effort over the bar.
Substitutes Jonathan Tehoue and Richardson were thrown into the action as O’s stepped up their bid for a leveller and 10 minutes from time Cureton shot just wide, but O’s couldn’t make a breakthrough and ended up slipping to an opening day defeat again.
Walsall: Walker, Westlake, Sadler, Butler, Lancashire, Chambers, Grigg (Jarvis 65 mins), Macken (Smith 89 mins), Hurst (Nicholls 78 mins), Taundry, Gnakpa. Subs: Grof, Peterlin.
Walsall bookings: Butler (71 mins), Taundry (75 mins), Hurst (76 mins)
Orient: Butcher, Omozusi, Chorley, Cuthbert, Daniels, Spring, Smith, McSweeney (Richardson 69 mins), Cox, Revell (Tehoue 69 mins), Cureton Porter (83 mins). Subs: Cestor, Odubajo.
Orient bookings: Cox (93 mins).