Ross Embleton named an unchanged side from the one that defeated Morecambe last time out. The only alteration in the matchday squad came amongst the substitutes as new signing Nick Freeman took James Dayton’s place on the bench.
Fresh from netting his first league goal of the season last weekend, Lee Angol made a bright start in E10 winning a free-kick some 25 yards from goal. Conor Wilkinson stepped up to take the resulting set piece, but it was comfortable in the end for young FGR ‘keeper Lewis Thomas.
The visitors came into this one having found the net in every league game since October, and they caused the O’s backline problems from the off. Jamille Matt is Rovers’ top scorer and the former Newport man might have added to his tally in the 5th minute, he found space in the box though failed to hit the target with a headed effort.
Orient had appeals for a spot-kick waved away ten minutes later. Jobi McAnuff picked out Wilkinson with a measured through ball, bearing down on goal the former Bolton man appeared to have his heels clipped just prior to getting a shot off, however referee John Busby saw nothing doing.
Following an open start, Mark Cooper’s side found the first goal of the game midway through the first half. Bailey Cargill slotted Cadden in down the left and the Scot made no mistake as he fired past Lawrence Vigouroux from close range.
The home side did their best to get back into it before the break but to no avail. Happe came closest, his header from McAnuff’s out-swinging corner forced Thomas into a smart stop shortly before the interval.
After a lacklustre display in the first half, Ross Embleton would have demanded a response from his side in the second period, and he almost got his wish minutes into the second half. Happe once again rose highest in the area to meet Brophy’s cross, it looked like the centre back’s header would fall into Angol’s path, though, frustratingly for the O’s, it fell just behind the former Spurs man.
As the half wore on Orient continued to dominate the majority of possession without creating a great deal of clear cut opportunities. In an attempt to change that, Embleton made a double switch. Angol and Ouss Cissé the men to make way for new signings Freeman and Dan Kemp.
However, Orient’s momentum was halted soon after as Happe received his marching orders for a second yellow card following a clumsy challenge on Matt.
A man to the good the visitors began to gain the ascendency, Vigouroux had to be on hand to deny former O’s midfielder Ebou Adams a goal that surely would have settled it 15 minutes from time.
Embleton rolled the dice for the final time in the 85th minute as he brought on Louis Dennis for Sotiriou in a change that saw Wilkinson move up top.
Despite being a man down, the O’s refused to throw the towel in during the final moments and mounted a flurry of late attacks. Unfortunately though they were unable to find a late leveller as Cooper’s side inflicted Orient’s first defeat of the new year.
ORIENT: Vigouroux, Ling, Akinola, Happe, Brophy, Cissé (Freeman 63’), McAnuff, Clay (Coulson 90’), Wilkinson, Angol (Kemp 63’), Sotiriou (Dennis 84’)
SUBS: Sargeant, Widdowson, Kyprianou
BOOKED: McAnuff 32’, Happe 54’, Brophy 69’
SENT OFF: Happe 64’
FOREST GREEN: Thomas, Stokes, Cargill, Adams, Collins (Davison 72’), Cadden, Matt, Moore-Taylor, Whitehouse (Sweeney 90’), Wagstaff (Bernard 84’), Godwin-Malife
SUBS: Wilson, Hutchinson, Bailey, Young
BOOKED: Adams 29’, Cargill 45’, Davison 90’
GOALS: Cadden 23’
REF: John Busby