Leyton Orient finally seal first league win by beating Preston
Leyton Orient 2 Preston North End 1: Trevor Davies reports from Brisbane Road
Two goals from Dean Cox saw Orient upset the odds and finally claim their first league win of the season.
Few would have given the O’s a hope after Preston, who went into the game with seven straight league wins behind them, grabbed a second-minute lead through Paul Coutts.
But after that shaky start the O’s dug deep and midfielder Cox bagged two goals before the break to seal the win and then keeper Lee Butcher pulled off a stunning penalty save early in the second half to ensure the home side kept their noses in front.
The win was not enough to lift Russell Slade’s side off the foot off the table, but their season is now up and running.
After the game a delighted Orient boss said: “We dug in and had to show some real character in the second period - and had to come back from 1-0 down.
“We didn’t start too well but changed the shape to match their diamond and get Dean Cox into the game and the little man was a real thorn in their side.
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“I was pleased with the performance, but we are still in a precarious position and need to use that as a platform.”
However, Orient could not have scripted a worse possible start as they fell behind after just two minutes.
Jamie Proctor raced down the left and crossed for Paul Coutts, in splendid isolation, to smash the ball home from 12 yards.
The goal put Orient firmly on the back foot and Iain Hume should have headed the visitors further in front on seven minutes, but his effort drifted just wide.
For the first 25 minutes Preston looked comfortable and seemed set to continue their winning run.
But when Dean Cox drifted into the middle, he started to cause problems.
On 28 minutes the livewire winger fired in an effort that Andreas Arestidou in the Preston goal palmed away after Leon McSweeney had threaded a ball through to George Porter, who set Cox up for the shot.
Skipper Stephen Dawson then saw an effort deflected wide and as O’s started to take a grip of the game they levelled on 35 minutes.
Kevin Lisbie, back in the starting 11 after injury, engineered a chance after good work down the right and Cox, the smallest player on the pitch, headed in from six yards.
With O’s growing in belief, Dawson went close again with an effort that fizzed just wide. Then Lisbie wasted a great chance to put Orient in front.
But as the game drifted into stoppage time at the end of the first half, Dawson drove forward and found Cox, who fired home from 25 yards into the corner of the net. It summed up a first half of two halves!
Orient had to survive a scare at the start of the second half when defender Scott Cuthbert pushed Brian McLean in the back and referee Andrew Madley pointed to the spot.
Preston’s Graham Alexander fired the kick towards the bottom corner, but keeper Lee Butcher dived full-length to his right and pulled off a stunning stop.
The home side were living dangerously, as on 58 minutes Hume fired a free-kick from 25 yards against the post and David Gray blasted the rebound over.
Then Neil Mellor headed a good chance wide of the post as Preston pushed for a leveller.
With O’s being forced to play on the break as Preston threw men forward, Cox almost completed a hat-trick from a free-kick following a rare Orient raid, but Arestidou pushed his effort away.
Then, at the other end, Hume chipped a free-kick just over, as O’s desperately held on and they survived five minutes of stoppage time to claim that elusive success.
Leyton Orient: Butcher, Cuthbert, Chorley, Forbes, McSweeney, Spring, Clarke, Porter (Mooney 55 mins), Dawson, Cox, Lisbie (Cureton 88 mins). Subs: Lovelock, Laird, Cestor.
Orient bookings: McSweeney (72 mins foul)
Preston North End: Arestidoi, Gray, Carlisle, Hume, Coutts, Proctor (Mayor 52 mins), Nicholson, McLean, Parry (Smith 75 mins), Alexander (Tsoumou 62 mins), Mellor. Subs: Ashbee, Turner.
Preston bookings: Carlisle (23 mins foul), Gray (81 mins foul), Smith (87 mins foul)
Referee: Andrew Madley
Attendance: 4,384 (inc 958 Preston fans)