Orient skipper Dawson helps lift the gloom
Last-gasp strike earns O’s a trip to Bristol Rovers
Leyton Orient 3 Bristol Rovers 2
Skipper Stephen Dawson sealed Orient’s place in the third round of the Carling Cup for the first time since 1990 when he broke Bristol Rovers’ heart with a goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time.
The game looked destined for extra-time when Rovers wiped away a two-goal deficit when first Chris Zebroski and then substitute Elliot Richards hit the target, with the second Rovers goal coming in the first minute of stoppage time.
That cancelled out first-half efforts from Dave Mooney and Ben Chorley, but O’s finally discovered their winning touch as Dawson smashed home the winner in a drama-drenched ending and made it a miserable night for Scott McGleish on his return to Brisbane Road.
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O’s made just one change to the side beaten 2-1 at home by Carlisle on Saturday, with Terrell Forbes returning to the heart of the defence and Scott Cuthbert moving to full-back in place of Elliot Omozusi.
Orient boss Russell Slade continued with a diamond formation and things started to click into place, although it was Rovers who were first out of the blocks and exerted the early pressure without looking really dangerous.
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Mustapha Carayol slid a shot just wide of the upright on five minutes, but slowly O’s started to take a grip.
It took just 18 minutes to break the deadlock when Dean Cox played a neat ball through to Mooney, who squeezed past two defenders and finished in fine style – the first goal from a O’s striker this season.
Rovers tried to respond and Zebroski, who had sent an effort just wide earlier, saw another blast blocked by Chorley.
But O’s were not prepared to let their lead slip and on 22 minutes they stretched their advantage.
As the home side surged forward, Mooney was too quick for Wayne Brown, whose sliding tackle sent the O’s man crashing to the floor.
Defender Chorley stepped up and fired the ball into the corner of the net, past Scott Bevan’s right hand.
Bristol Rovers replaced Adam Virgo with Danny Woodards on 34 minutes and The Pirates started to come back into the game, with Craig Stanley blasting a shot just past the post.
Then the O’s were forced into a change when Scott Cuthbert limped off to be replaced by Mark Laird, who moved into midfield, with Leon McSweeney dropping to full-back.
After the break Mooney had a great chance to score his second of the night, but blasted over the bar from eight yards and then Charlie Daniels saw a free-kick smothered by Bevan in the visiting goal.
But it was Rovers who almost got back into the game when Lee Brown went on a great run and sent a shot arrowing into the corner, only to see David Button tip the ball onto the woodwork.
As Rovers tried to force their way back into the game Leon McSweeney and Terrell Forbes both went into the book for fouls.
But Rovers were rewarded for their efforts when the dangerous Zebroski fired an effort into the roof of the net from 20 yards.
O’s almost restored their advantage when Jamie Cureton fired a cross-come-shot against the bar, but then the drama unfolded and in the first minute of stoppage time when Richards levelled.
Given Orient’s fragile confidence it looked like a killer blow, but O’s dug deep and in the 94th-minute Jonathan Tehoue, Marc Laird and then Cox combined for the later to slide in the Orient skipper and Dawson hammered the ball home.
Leyton Orient: Button, Chorley, Cuthbert (Laird 39 mins), Forbes, Daniels, McSweeney (Omozusi 65 mins), Smith, Dawson, Cox, Mooney, Cureton (Tehoue 82 mins). Subs: Butcher, Porter, Odubajo, Richardson.
Orient bookings: McSweeney (61 mins foul), Forbes (64 mins foul)
Bristol Rovers: Bevan, Smith, Stanley, Gill (Campbell 71 mins), McGleish, Carayol (Richards 76 mins), Brown, Anthony, Virgo (Woodards 34 mins), Brown, Zebroski. Subs: Cronin, McLaggon, Jeffries, Hunter.
Bristol Rovers bookings: Gill (68 mins foul)
Referee: Andy Woolmer
Attendance: 1,881 (inc 397 Bristol Rovers fans)