Fabio Liverani claimed his first win as Leyton Orient manager as the O’s collected their first ever win against Crawley Town.
Dean Cox opened the scoring with an excellent free kick on the 6th minute but Crawley soon equalised through Jimmy Smith four minutes later.
Cox had a hand in the second with an excellent cross for Dagnall to head home and after dominating the second half, David Mooney and Dagnall secured the 4-1 win late on with powerful finishes from close range.
Fabio Liverani made three changes from the side that lost at Barnsley as Andrea Dossena and Dean Cox move back into the starting line-up while Chris Dagnall returned from suspension to partner Shaun Batt in attack. There was also good news on the bench as veteran striker Kevin Lisbie ended a four-month absence.
The brief history between the sides did not look good for the O’s going into the tie but Fabio Liverani’s side nearly got off to a fantastic start when Dean Cox and Shaun Batt combined well down the left but the latter’s low cross flashed past everyone with just over a minute on the clock.
The match started at a fast pace and Conor Henderson responded for the visitors by drilling a shot wide.
Referee Phillip Gibbs was then forced into making a decision moments later when Crawley’s Dean Leacock handled on the edge of the box after battling with Chris Dagnall. After deliberating with his assistant, Phillips awarded Orient a free kick on the edge of the area and Dean Cox fired the O’s ahead by bending the ball into the top corner.
Defending set-pieces have been a real achilles heel for the O’s this season and the hosts lead was quickly wiped out. Matt Harrold sent a header onto the post from Conor Henderson’s delivery but former Orient midfielder Jimmy Smith was on hand to scramble the ball beyond Jobi McAnuff on the line.
Brimming from his goal, Cox was impressing down the left and with 20 minutes gone he played a huge part in Orient retaking the lead. Allowed space on the wing, the 27-year-old hit a superb volleyed cross to pick out the head of Chris Dagnall who marked his return to the side with a glanced header into the far corner.
The O’s have been plagued by injuries so far this campaign and that showed little sign of easing up for manager Fabio Liverani when Batt was forced off midway through the half and replaced by David Mooney.
Following the energetic start, the game settled down into a tight affair and Jobi McAnuff fired a shot straight at Brian Jensen in the Crawley goal before Romain Vincelot sent a shot over the bar deep into added time.
With temperatures dropping during the halftime break Orient were again on the front foot at the start of the second half and Cox stung the hands of Jensen with a strike from 18-yards.
The weather showed no signs of improving as rain started to fall but Mooney nearly grabbed a third for Orient ten minutes into the half when he played a one-two with Dagnall but Jensen was able to get down and push the ball round the post.
Bradley Pritchard was introduced into the fray with 25 minutes remaining as he replaced Cox in midfield. Cox left the field to a much-deserved standing ovation from the crowd before heading straight down the tunnel for treatment.
Josh Wright was seeing a lot of the ball in the middle of the park and the midfielder came close to extending the O’s lead twice in the space of a minute with identical efforts that fizzed wide of the post.
Orient were then hit with another injury as Adam Legzdins damaged his shoulder and Gary Woods came on for the host’s final change.
As the match entered the closing stages Crawley began to through more bodies forward but Orient looked dangerous on the counter and both Mooney and Dagnall came close to adding a third.
Crawley threatened to find a way back into it late on but as they poured men forward, Dagnall released Mooney who was twice denied by Jensen before smashing a loose ball past the goalkeeper from eight yards.
It knocked the life out of Crawley and as they slumped against the ropes in stoppage time, Dagnall added insult to injury as he smashed in a brilliant cross from Bradley Pritchard.
ORIENT: Legzdins (Woods 71), Omozusi, Cuthbert (C),Lowry, Dossena, McAnuff, Vincelot, Wright, Cox (Pritchard 66), Batt (Mooney 26), Dagnall
SUBS: Sawyer, Baudry, Lee, Lisbie
GOALS: Cox (6), Dagnall (20) Mooney (87) Dagnall (90)
BOOKINGS: Lowry (11), McAnuff (36), Omozusi (52), Vincelot (59)
CRAWLEY: Jensen, Dickson, Henderson, Leacock (O’Connor 80), Edwards, Smith, Walsh (C), Miller (Tomlin 65), Harrold, Bawling (Young 75), Elliott
SUBS: Banya, Richefond, Isaacs
GOALS: Smith (10)
BOOKINGS: Leacock (5), Miller (40), Harrold (58)
REF: Phillip Gibbs
ATT: 4,108 (242)