Nightmare start to the New Year for Orient
Brighton rock O’s as Slade’s return ends in disappointment
Brighton & Hove Albion 5 Leyton Orient 0
ORIENT could not have scripted a worse start to the New Year as they slumped to their biggest defeat of the season against Division One leaders Brighton on Saturday.
Glenn Murray fired a hat-trick, while an own goal from fit-again keeper Jamie Jones and a strike by substitute Ashley Barnes ruined Russell Slade’s return to the Withdean Stadium.
It was Orient’s first defeat since the start of November, as the visitors looked out of sorts following a three-week lay-off.
The only crumb of comfort was that O’s made a promising start – but once Murray opened the scoring just before the half-hour the result was never in doubt.
It could have been even worse for the visitors as Elliott Bennett went within a whisker of putting the home side ahead, but fired against the post after 11 minutes.
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With the Seagulls on top, Chris Wood fired wide from the edge of the box and then forced Jones into a fine save.
The alarm bells were ringing and on 29 minutes Brighton took the lead when Wood set up Murray to open the home side’s account.
Two minutes later the Seagulls added a second with a freak strike. Wood sliced a cross from the left which caught Jones off his line and the keeper, back in the side after a long lay-off, could only palm the ball into his own net.
Jones atoned with a smart save from Gary Dicker and then blocked efforts from Wood and Murray before the break as O’s were in danger of being sunk without trace.
Slade threw former Brighton man Dean Cox and fit-again Adam Chambers into the fray at the start of the second half in place of Scott McGleish and Aaron Brown, as O’s looked for a way back into the game.
But it took Murray just five minutes to extend Brighton’s advantage and on the hour the former Rochdale striker completed his hat-trick.
Alex Revel l went close to grabbing a consolation on 69 minutes, but Albion remained in the driving season and grabbed a fifth on 74 minutes when Barnes netted.
To complete a miserable afternoon Orient substitute Jonathan Tehoue was denied a consolation when his shot hit a post six minutes from time – which just about summed up Orient’s awful day.
Orient: Jones, Omozusi, Brown (Chambers 46), Chorley, Daniels, Spring, Smith, Dawson, M’Poku (Tehoue 64 mins), McGleish (Cox 46 mins), Revell. Subs: Butcher, Cestor, Walker, Odubajo.
Orient bookings: Spring.
Attendance: 7,198 (inc 212 Orient fans)