Orient boss Slade frustrated by missed chances against Notts County
League One: Leyton Orient 0 Notts County 3
Three goals in the last 20 minutes turned the game on its head and plunged Orient deeper into relegation trouble.
For the first 65 minutes O’s dominated for long spells, but they paid the price for not converting their chances, when defender County Damion Stewart grabbed a freak opener on 70 when Orient were down to 10 men.
Suddenly, County with their tails up and chasing the last play-off place, grabbed two more as Jeff Hughes and then Lloyd Sam in the sixth-minute of stoppage time piled on the agony for Russell Slade’s side.
The O’s, who have now lost five of their last six games, looked on course for victory, but the turning point came after 65 minutes when Stewart caught Smith full in the face on the edge of the area and the Orient midfielder needed lengthy treatment.
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After the game the O’s boss said: “It looked like a karate kick on the edge of the box. It wasn’t a penalty it just was outside.
“But he has taken his head off and he’s suffering from concussion and a cut, so that was disappointing, we lost Jimmy and then moments later with 10 players on the pitch they have scored the first goal.”
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Despite the result Slade thought his side were unlucky: “We created a bundle of chances particularly in the first period and even in the second half Jimmy Smith had a wonderful chance and Kevin Lisbie had a chance too.
“I thought that we created enough chances to be comfortably in front and for 65 minutes we were bossing the game, playing well and playing with a swagger.
“The goal’s a disappointing one, Jamie (Jones) has dropped it, it’s as simple as that we failed to clear it and they have got a fortunate goal and it’s kind of like an uphill battle from there and once again we’re chasing the game.
“As crazy as it sounds even at two-nil down I thought we were still in it and I knew there would be some extra minutes in there and if we could just get one we might be able to pull it round.
“There is always pressure on players but it’s how you handle that pressure. Today we went out there; there didn’t seem a lack of confidence.”
Slade made three changes to the side that had been beaten 3-1 by Huddersfield in midweek.
In came fit-again goalkeeper Jamie Jones, back between the sticks for the first time for almost a year after recovering from a shoulder operation and fractured wrist.
Top scorer Kevin Lisbie also returned and on-loan midfield man Adam Reed was restored to the starting 11.
Keeper Paul Rachubka and George Porter dropped to the bench, while Marc Laird failed to make the 16.
Smith could easily have had a first-half hat-trick, while top scorer Lisbie also missed a great chance as O’s took a grip of the game and played some neat football.
It made a difference with full-backs Ryan Dickson and Dean Leacock providing natural outlets and it was ex-O’s keeper Stuart Nelson who kept County in it as he made three excellent saves.
On 22 minutes nine-goal Lisbie raced clear of the County defence, but Nelson came out and pulled off a smart stop as the O’s striker tried to lob the ball home.
Eleven minutes later it was Smith that found himself in the clear at the far post following a Dean Cox cross from the left, but Nelson dived smartly and parried the effort.
O’s continued to press and Smith was again denied from close range by the County keeper after Lisbie headed on a Cox free-kick.
On the stroke of half-time the O’s midfielder missed a third opportunity when Matt Spring knocked the ball back into the danger area and Smith headed over the target from six yards.
After the break Orient continued to press and on 57 minutes Lisbie crossed the ball into the path of Smith and he fired a just wide from 25 yards.
Then came the turning point on 65 minutes when County defender Stewart caught Smith in the face with his boot.
O’s claims for a penalty were waved away, but Smith needed extensive treatment and was off the field when County grabbed the lead against the run of play.
Jones caught a cross from Alan Sheehan, but dropped the ball as collided with Terrell Forbes. The ball was half-cleared, but Stewart, lashed it home.
Within a minute O’s looked to have levelled, only for Adam Reed’s effort to be ruled offside.
County, who had hardly been in the game, grabbed a second on 77 minutes when substitute Lee Hughes headed a cross into the path of Jeff Hughes, who tapped the ball home from close range.
O’s tried to hit back and Reed went close on 89 minutes. But County suddenly found themselves in the driving seat and in the sixth minute of stoppage time added a third when Jones parried a shot from substitute Jon Harley and Lloyd Sam slammed the ball home.
O’s travel to Exeter City on Monday just four points off the drop zone and Slade said: “It was not a 3-0 it’s just ridiculous, but that’s the score line, you have to take that on the chin. We have to move on and we have to be positive for the next game.
“We have got to be mentally strong, mentally tough and embrace the battle, we have got five games left and we have got to work really hard.”
Orient: Jones 5, Forbes 5, Chorley 6, Leacock 6, Dickson 6, Smith 5 (Taiwo 71 mins), Reed 6, *Spring 7, Cox 5 (Porter 77 mins), Mooney 6, Lisbie 7. Subs: Rachubka, Ben Youssef, Andrew.
Orient bookings: Leacock (80 mins foul), Reed (96 mins).
Notts County: Kelly, Sheehan, Bencherif (L Hughes 60 mins), J Hughes, Judge, Chilvers, Sam, Stewart, Harris (Mahon 60 mins), Bodganovic (Harley 73 mins). Subs: Edwards, Freeman.
Attenadance: 4,016 (inc 606 County fans)
Referee: David Webb