Walsall 1 – 2 Leyton Orient
npower League 1
DEAN COX scored from inside his own half as Orient defeated Walsall 2-1 on Tuesday evening.
Cox’s wonder strike put the O’s 2-0 up in an outstanding first half in which the visitors moved into a commanding position thanks to Lee Cook’s opener and then his fellow winger’s moment of magic.
Cook’s goal was memorable in its own right as he drilled home after running at full back Ben Purkiss and Orient were well on their way to the points at the break.
Walsall responded strongly in the second period and halved the deficit thanks to Will Grigg’s penalty, leaving the Londoners with a nervy last half hour.
Purkiss struck a post and Ryan Allsop was called into action on a couple of occasions, but Orient clung on to bounce back from Saturday’s loss to Donaster in the best possible style.
The hosts were first to threaten, as James Baxendale spotted an opportunity to chip from 20 yards, although his radar was slightly off as he cleared the O’s crossbar by a couple of feet.
It had been a low-key start to the game, but that was all to change when Cook fired Orient into the lead with 11 minutes on the clock.
The O’s winger produced a rasping drive to beat home heeper Karl Darlow high by his near post after Kevin Lisbie flicked on and Cook ran forcefully at right back Purkiss.
Buoyed by their goal, Orient began to take control and Cox was denied by a super reaction save from Darlow after Cook again tricked his way past his man to deliver a cross for his opposite winger to head.
Darlow was called into action again shortly afterwards, getting down sharply to his left to palm away a Jimmy Smith effort.
Orient needed a second to show for their domination, but nobody could have forseen how they were going to score it in the 29th minute.
Cox’s strike was simply astonishing as he picked up possession inside his own half after Anthony Griffith was clattered, looked up and drilled over keeper Darlow and into the net from 60 yards.
Florent Cuvelier had a low drive turned around the post by Ryan Allsop as Walsall looked for a response, but 2-0 it remained at the break and Orient were well deserving of that advantage.
Walsall needed a strong start to the second period, and they got it as they upped the tempo and put Orient on to the back foot.
Andy Taylor thudded a 20-yard free kick straight into the O’s wall as they looked to get a comeback going, and they were given the chance to on 58 when Cook miscontrolled and brought down JBaxendale inside the area.
Grigg sent his spot kick down the middle with Allsop diving to the left and it was game on.
Jamie Paterson’s angled drive needed a decent stop down low from Allsop, and the O’s keeper was also required to hang on after they worked a free kick square for Taylor to drill through a mass of bodies from range.
Orient weren’t offering much going forward by now as Walsall pressed for a leveller and they so nearly got it on 84 when Ashley Hemmings’ quickly-taken free kick from the left caught the O’s napping.
The ball fell to Purkiss inside the box and he managed to hit both posts with separate shots as Walsall just failed to force the ball home in the scramble.
With that the O’s clung on to their advantage and secured a fine 2-1 win over one of the division’s in-form teams.
Walsall: Darlow; Purkiss (Taundry 89), Butler, Holden, A Taylor; Baxendale (Brandy 75), Cuvelier, Featherstone, Paterson (Hemmings 80); Grigg, Bowerman
Subs: Grof (GK), C Taylor, Jones, Downing
Goal: Grigg pen 58
Booked: Featherstone, Cuvelier
Leyton Orient: Allsop; McSweeney, Clarke, Chorley, Sawyer; Rowlands (Brunt 62); Cox (Baudry 70), Griffith, Smith, Cook (Odubajo 62); Lisbie
Subs: Symes, Laird, James, Mooney
Goals: Cook 11, Cox 29
Booked: Baudry, Odubajo
Referee: Darren Bond
Attendance: 3,281 (167 away)