Orient put on a stirring display of attacking football as they ran out resounding 4-0 winners over Carlisle United at the Matchroom Stadium to hold on to their automatic-promotion spot in League 1.
Defender Scott Cuthbert’s powerful header sent the O’s into the break with a deserved lead before substitute and home-debutant Jamie Ness fired in a 25-yard drive to double their advantage just two minutes after the restart.
Kevin Lisbie grabbed his 13th of the season on 66 minutes before Shaquile Coulthirst - just one of four Orient loanees to make their home debut today - rounded off a great afternoon’s work in the dying seconds of second-half injury time.
Orient beat the Cumbrian side 4-1 on the two occasions they met last season, but have gone one better this campaign after thrashing them 5-1 at Brunton Park on the opening day of the season and hitting four without reply today.
Both sides made just one change to their starting XIs for this game. O’s striker Robbie Simpson replaced the on-loan Jamar Loza – who enjoyed a strong debut in midweek – while Carlisle brought journeyman Pascal Chimbonda back into the team having lost a close encounter with Sunderland in the FA Cup last weekend.
The O’s set the pace early on in the game and could have gone in front on three minutes when Dean Cox curled in a pinpoint cross from the left which was met by the head of Lisbie, who had done well to find space inside a crowded penalty area. The Orient striker’s glancing effort looked destined for the back of the net only for Carlisle keeper Greg Fleming to pull off a brilliant left-handed save.
Fleming was in inspired form early on, and minutes later thwarted Robbie Simpson with an outstretched leg when the striker was through on goal.
Orient were enjoying a good opening 20 minutes and looked dangerous each time they attacked, with both wingers and Marvin Bartley breaking forward to particular effect.
As Carlisle began to try and play themselves into the game, it was leaving further space for the home team to exploit and a good counter-attack on the half-hour mark saw another Lisbie effort deflected wide and defender Mathieu Baudry’s header cleared off the line from the resulting corner.
After enjoying such a strong start to the game, it looked as though the half was going to fizzle out for the O’s.
However, having scored against Carlisle on the first day of the season, Cuthbert fired the O’s into the lead two minutes from the break with an almost carbon-copy of his goal in August.
Another good burst forward from the hosts led to a corner from the O’s right and the defender did brilliantly to out-muscle his marker and send a thumping header into the net through the narrowest of gaps between Fleming and the defender on the line.
Cuthbert’s effort lifted everyone inside Brisbane Road and the O’s finished the half well and truly on the front foot - something which certainly didn’t change after the break when Slade’s men came flying out of the blocks to double their lead on 47 minutes.
Lloyd James’s corner was cleared back to him and his well-controlled touch inside landed at the feet of Jamie Ness. The former Rangers man shifted the ball on to his favoured left foot before unleashing a daisy-cutting drive directly into the bottom left corner of the net from some 30 yards.
Ness had come on for the injured Bartley in the first half and will be delighted to have opened his account for the club in only his third appearance since joining on loan from Premier League side Stoke City earlier in the month.
Soon after, Cuthbert came close to doubling his tally for the afternoon from yet another O’s corner but his glancing header this time went narrowly wide of the far post.
However it wouldn’t be long before the O’s did extend their lead when, on 66 minutes, Lisbie finally moved on to 13 goals of the season having gone without one since October.
James was again involved in the build-up when he took a shot from a similar position that Ness had hit his drive from 20 minutes earlier, only for Cox to somehow steer the ball over the top of the Carlisle defence and into Lisbie’s path.
The O’s forward didn’t hesitate for a moment and confidently smashed a low first-time volley in off the bottom right-hand post to send the home fans into raptures.
The goal all but sealed the victory over a poor Carlisle side and Slade used the comfortable lead to give senior strikers Lisbie and Simpson a rest, bringing on young loanees Loza and Coulthirst in their place.
Both of the substitutes looked lively as they made their first appearances in front of the O’s home crowd and Coulthirst very nearly made it four with five minutes remaining after superb link-up play from the pair, but his effort fell just wide of the right post.
There might not have been long left to play but it was a sign of things to come because the youngster rounded off a superb display from the home side with his first goal for the club in the final minute of second-half stoppage time.
The forward, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, pounced on a loose ball on the edge of the Carlisle box before rounding the keeper and firing a low left-footed shot past the defender on the line and into the net.
The O’s performance was a real treat for the home fans who hadn’t seen their side win at the Matchroom Stadium in the league since the end of October, and ensured they keep up the pace with leaders Brentford.
ORIENT: Jakupovic, Cuthbert, Baudry, Clarke (C), Omozusi, Moses Odubajo, James, Bartley (Ness, 32), Cox, Simpson (Coulthirst 84), Lisbie (Loza, 73).
SUBS NOT USED: Larkins, Sawyer, Lee, Lasimant,
GOALS: Cuthbert (43), Ness (47), Lisbie (66), Coulthirst (90+5)
BOOKINGS: Ness (79), Coulthirst (90+3)
CARLISLE: Fleming, Robson, Buaben (Townsend, 53), Amoo (Meppen-Walter, 78), Potts, Berrett, O’Hanlon (C), Ehmer, Guy, Lawrence (Miller, 53), Chimbonda.
SUBS NOT USED: Noble, Beck, Symington, Brass
BOOKINGS: Ehmer (45), Robson (45+2), Chimbonda (83)
REFEREE: Graham Horwood
ATTENDENCE: 5,279 (471)