Slade: “They were the best side we have played this season”

League One: Leyton Orient 0 Sheffield United 1

A stunning strike from Sheffield United’s Nick Blackman on 59 minutes was enough to win this game as the visitors continued their unbeaten start to the season.

In a match where genuine chances were few and far between, Blackman’s excellent effort from 25 yards deserved to win it.

Orient’s best chance to level came 20 minutes from time but Kevin Lisbie’s close-range header was superbly saved by substitute keeper George Long.

After the game Orient manager Russell Slade said: “They were the best side we have played this season.

“You have only got to look at their record to know that they are a difficult side to beat. They haven’t lost yet. “It was always going to be a tight affair and we needed it to be a tight affair and that’s what it turned out to be.

“We have lost to a good side and arguably deserved to lose the game, but we still had the best chance of the game.”

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Slade named the side that had won 2-1 at Walsall in midweek, but the two teams cancelled each other out for long periods.

The home side engineered the first half-chance when Lisbie and Dean Cox linked well and Lisbie raced through, but visiting keeper Mark Howard was out quickly to smother the ball.

That was Howard’s only action of note as he injured himself taking a goal-kick and after 12 minutes was stretchered off to be replaced by teenager George Long.

The young keeper did well to pull a cross from Cox out of the air, but the O’s never really tested him.

The only other chance for the home side in the first half came when Chorley met a corner from Cox, but his header was blocked in a crowded goalmouth.

The visitors were restricted to a handful of long-range efforts, but they did come close two minutes before the break when Kevin McDonald saw his effort blocked by Chorley and the ball fell to Dave Kitson, but he dragged his shot wide.

O’s made a change at the break with Michael Symes replacing Jimmy Smith as Slade’s side looked to get more of a foothold in the game.

But it was the visitors who grabbed the lead just before the hour with a fine strike by Blackman as he received the ball 25 yards out and sent a left-footed shot crashing into the net past Allsop’s right hand, giving the keeper no chance.

O’s almost levelled when Lisbie and Lee Cook combined to set up Anthony Griffith, but he fired over the bar from 18 yards.

United looked like taking a firm grip and almost added a second when Michael Doyle fired in a shot from 14 yards that Allsop blocked with his legs.

But although the Blades were in control O’s should have levelled on 20 minutes from time when Cook provided a quality cross from the left, that Lisbie met six yards out, but Long made an excellent point-blank save to keep United in front.

Cook went close with a free-kick that floated just wide, things went from bad to worse when Lisbie pulled up with an injury 12 minutes from time and was replaced by Ryan Brunt.

“Lis (Kevin Lisbie) is in a really good vein of form and that’s a big a blow as losing the game,” said Slade

Leyton Orient: Allsop 7; McSweeney 6, Chorley 7, Clarke 7, Sawyer 7; Rowlands 6 (James 81 mins); Cox 6, Griffith 6, Smith 6 (Symes 56 mins), Cook 6; *Lisbie 7 (Brunt 78 mins). Subs: Baudry, Laird, Odubajo, Mooney.

Orient bookings: Sawyer (67 mins foul), Chorley (75 mins foul), Cook 89 (mins foul)

Sheffield United: Howard (Long 12 mins), Maguire, Hill, Flynn, Dyle, Blackman (Cresswell 84 mins), McDonald, Kitson (Porter 84 mins), Gallagher, McMahon, Williams. Subs: Westlake, Porter, Miller, McAllister, McFadzean.

Sheffield United: Williams (74 mins foul)

Referee: David Phillips.

Attendance: 4,882 (inc 1,253 Sheffield United fans)

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