Slade satisfied with Orient performance in losing effort to Sheffield Wednesday
League One: Leyton Orient 0 Sheffield Wednesday 1
Reda Johnson kept Wednesday’s automatic promotion hopes alive when he bagged the only goal of the game four minutes into the second half.
Watched by their biggest home gate of the season, the O’s battled manfully for long periods and defended stubbornly against a powerful visiting outfit.
But Orient were unable to create too many problems for the Wednesday defence and the visitors struck the killer blow just after the break when home keeper Paul Rachubka parried a header from Johnson and as the home defence hesitated, the Wednesday striker followed up to net.
After the game O’s boss Russell Slade said: “We stayed in the game that was the important thing.
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“Obviously we were disappointed to concede after half-time, but there was the window of opportunity to get back into it when George Porter went close at the end.”
Orient defender Scott Cuthbert believed he was fouled when Wednesday scored and Slade admitted: “We have had a look at it and there was a lot of pushing and shoving in there.”
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And Slade admitted it was always going to be a tough afternoon. “They are a good side; they are going to create chances. They are a big side, with a big budget and a big playing staff. It was always going to be tough and for us to be in the game 0-0 at half-time was okay for us.
“We didn’t cause them too many problems, but the important thing was to stay in it and we did and we nearly got something at the death.”
Slade made just one change to the side that had slipped to a 4-1 defeat at the MK Dons as fit-again Dean Leacock returned in the centre of midfield in place of injured skipper Matt Spring.
Wednesday dominated the first half in terms of possession, but found it difficult to break down a resolute home defence where stand-in skipper Ben Chorley and Scott Cuthbert were superb.
Little was seen of Orient as an attacking force, but Adam Reed and Leacock worked tirelessly in the centre of midfield.
Reed made a great defensive tackle early, but for all their possession, Wednesday could make little headway and the closest they came in the first half was a long-range effort from Jermaine Johnson.
On a game high on perspiration, but low on inspiration, the impressive Cuthbert produced an excellent tackle on the dangerous Michail Antonio as the first half finished goalless.
After the break O’s had their first genuine effort, when Leacock tried his luck from 25 yards, but Wednesday keeper Stephen Bywater was able to make a regulation save.
However, the visitors broke Orient’s resistance on 49 minutes when Chris Lines floated in a free-kick and Reda Johnson saw his close-range header parried by Paul Rachubka in the home goal, but Johnson reacted first and fired the rebound into an empty net, despite the home side’s protests.
In a bid to get his side back into the game Slade threw fit-again George Porter into the action on 66 minutes.
He replaced Reed, as Smith moved into a more central position, but the move did not please the home fans.
As O’s tried to be more adventurous, Wednesday almost caught them on the break as Antonio raced through, but he fired his effort wide of the far post.
Porter’s pace started to cause the visitors a few problems, but it was Wednesday who still threatened on the break and substitute Nile Ranger smashed an effort wide.
The visitors started to get edgy towards the end, but O’s could create few clear cut chances, although Porter blasted an effort from 25 yards just inches past the post in the fourth minute of stoppage time and that was the closest they came to a leveller.
Orient: Rachubka 6, Forbes 6, Cuthbert 8, Chorley 7, McSweeney 6, Smith 6, Reed 7 (Porter 66 mins, Leacock 7 (Laird 78 mins), Cox 6, Campbell-Ryce 6 (Andrew 86 mins), Lisbie 7. Subs: Ben Youssef, Mooney.
Sheffield Wednesday: Bywater, Buxton, Jones, Semedo, Lines, O’Grady (Ranger 60mins), J Johnson (Treacy 78 mins), Madine (Lowe 86 mins), R Johnson, Antonio, Llera. Subs: Jameson, Beevers.
Bookings: R Johnson (69 mins foul)
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Attendance: 6,196 (inc 2,434 Wednesday fans).