Moses Odubajo marks his first start with a goal as Leyton Orient beat Rochdale
League One: Leyton Orient 2 Rochdale 1
A sensational debut goal from teenager Moses Odubajo helped Orient record only their sixth home win of the season.
Odubajo, making his first start for the club, hammered home a stunning strike from 20 yards just before the break after Dean Cox’s deflected effort had put Orient ahead.
Already relegated Rochdale pulled a goal back when Reece Gray scored with a solo effort 15 minutes from time – but the O’s held on to finish their season with a rare home victory.
After the game a delighted Orient manager Russell Slade said: “I was pleased with the young lads, particularly Moses.
“We had no fears about putting him at right back and he likes to get forward from that position and so he did two or three times in the first half
“And from one of those he has whammed it in the back of the net with his left foot, so that was fantastic and it could be the goal of the season. I’m really pleased for him.
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“It was nice to finish with a win for the fans. There have had to suffer too many defeats here and too many below-par performances.
“I thought we could have won it more comfortably. We created opportunity after opportunity in the first period and didn’t quite put the game beyond them, but it’s still nice to get the win.
Slade made two changes from the side that had lost at Hartlepool, as Dean Leacock returned to the centre of midfield, while youngster Odubajo was handed his full league debut – and there were three teenagers – George Porter, Billy Lobjoit and Afolabi Obafemi – on the bench.
Odubajo dropped in at right back, while Syam Ben Youssef switched to the heart of the rearguard, with Leacock anchoring the midfield.
After a low key start Orient started to crank up the pressure and the home side went close early on when a free-kick from Cox picked out Jimmy Smith at the far post, but he headed just wide.
Kevin Lisbie caused the visiting defence problems, but he fired over after a wriggling run, before O’s looked as if they had taken the lead on 21 minutes.
Matt Spring crossed from the right and Ben Youssef, who caught the eye playing at the heart of the home defence, looked as if he had scored with a header.
Visiting keeper Matty Edwards pushed the ball out and referee Stuart Attwell ruled it had not crossed the line, despite the home side’s protestations.
But it mattered not, as just after the half-hour Orient took the lead when Lisbie headed the ball into the path of Cox and his volley from 16 yards hit defender Stephen Darby bounded down and then up and over the stranded Edwards.
Ten minutes later debutant Odubajo scored with a strike that will live long in the memory.
He had already gone close with an effort from outside the box, but that was just a sighter, as on 41 minutes he raced down the right and then cut in before sending a shot exploding into the net from 20 yards – a candidate for goal of the season.
After the break O’s keeper Jamie Jones, who had been largely redundant in the first half, made a smart stop when he turned an Andrew Tutte shot round the post after diving low to his right.
However, O’s continued to look dangerous and Lisbie went close to adding a third, but was denied by a smart stop from Edwards.
Lobjoit was given a first taste of League football when he replaced Jamal Campbell-Ryce on 68 minutes, but O’s still pressed.
Leacock saw an excellent header tipped over the bar and then Lisbie and Leacock had chances to secure the victory.
With 15 minutes left the visitors threw themselves a lifeline when Reece Gray waltzed past two defenders and stroked the ball into the corner of the net.
But that was as good as it got for the visitors and O’s, who finished with a teenage strike force of Lobjoit and Afolabi Obafemi, held on for a win and finished seven points clear of the relegation places.
Leyton Orient: Jones 7, Ben-Youssef 7, Chorley 6, Leacock 6, McSweeney 6, Odubajo 8 (Forbes 85 mins), Smith 6, Spring 6, Cox 6; Campbell-Ryce 6 (Lobjoit 68 mins), Lisbie 7 (Obafemi 86 mins). Subs: Forbes, Porter, Laird,
Rochdale: Edwards, Darby, Widdowson, Amankwaah, Kennedy, Jones, Tutte, Holden, Hackney (Adams 55 mins), Akpa-Akpro, Gray. Subs: Lucas, Symes, Adams, Thompson, Byrne.
Rochdale bookings: Gray (61 mins foul)
Attendance: 4,110 (inc 147 Rochdale fans)
Referee: Stuart Attwell