Leyton Orient 0 - 1 Sheffield Wednesday
npower League 1
IT WAS a case of déjà vu for the O's on Saturday as a Reda Johnson goal condemned the O's to a 1-0 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday for the second time this season.
The Owls defender forced the ball home on 49 minutes following a Chris Lines free kick as Wednesday made their aerial power count when it mattered.
Orient defended well for the majority of the Brisbane Road contest but struggled to create chances at the other end as the visitors enhanced their promotion prospects with victory in east London.
Russell Slade brought Dean Leacock back into his team following a knee injury, with the former Derby man slotting into midfield as the O's looked to boost their physical power in the centre of the park.
Leacock and Adam Reed did a good job of shielding the O's defence from the Wednesday threat as the visitors were, in the main, restricted to shots from range before the interval.
They did boss possession and territory as Orient struggled to get an attacking threat going, but the O's would have been happy with keeping it to 0-0 at the break.
Michail Antonio looked their most likely route to unlocking the O's backline and he crossed low from the right in the seventh minute, bypassing the wrongfooted Leon McSweeney, but Reed raced back to take the ball off Jermaine Johnson's toes.
Midfielder José Semedo fired inches wide from range and Paul Rachubka held a 30-yard drive from Antonio, but the O's keeper didn't have too much work to do before the break.
But, four minutes after the interval, the home side's good work was undone when Reda Johnson got on the end of a wide free kick from Chris Lines.
His initial header was well saved by Rachubka, but the ball dropped nicely for the Owls left back to control and stroke into the vacant net.
Having fallen behind, Orient now needed to change their approach and Russell Slade introduced George Porter from the bench in a search for fresh attacking impetus.
But Wednesday were also able to find more space now and Gary Madine knocked wide after Rachubka blocked a shot from Chris O'Grady.
Then, with 70 minutes played, Antonio's searing pace took him clear of the O's backline, but he dragged his shot past the far post with only Rachubka to beat.
Another golden chance to seal it fell to sub Nile Ranger, but he failed to hit the target on 77 after Leon McSweeney halted Jermaine Johnson's powerful run with a superb tackle on the edge of the box.
And Wednesday were almost made to pay for not killing the game off right at the death when George Porter's volley whistled inches wide of the right hand post with goalkeeper Stephen Bywater beaten.
It had been a battling performance from the O's, but one that ultimately went unrewarded as they continue to look over their shoulders.
Leyton Orient: Rachubka; McSweeney, Chorley, Cuthbert, Forbes; Reed (Porter 66), Leacock (Laird 79); Jimmy Smith, Campbell-Ryce (Andrew 87), Cox; Lisbie
Subs: Ben Youssef, Mooney
Sheffield Wednesday: Bywater; Buxton, Llera, Jones, R Johnson; Antonio, Semedo, Lines, J Johnson (Treacy 78); O'Grady (Ranger 61), Madine (Lowe 87)
Subs: Treacy, Beevers, Jameson (GK), Lowe, Ranger
Goal: R Johnson 49
Booked: R Johnson
Referee: Darren Drysdale
Attendance: 6,196 (2,434 away)