Orient secured a dramatic last-minute victory over Coventry City to storm into the second round of the League Cup on Tuesday evening.
Kevin Lisbie and Dean Cox’s first half goals cancelled out Carl Baker’s opener for the visitors, sending the home side into the break with a 2-1 lead.
An action-packed second period saw Baker sent off, only for his side to get a quick equaliser through the impressive Franck Moussa, before Lisbie netted his third of the season in dramatic fashion to save the game going to extra time.
Russell Slade made just two changes to the Orient side that thrashed Carlisle United 5-1 on the opening day of the League One season. Skipper Nathan Clarke was sidelined after being stretchered off at the weekend and Cox, who came on to score two stunning goals in Saturday’s game, made a full recovery from his pre-season knock to take up a familiar position on the left wing.
The O’s had an early scare when Scott Cuthbert, who captained the home side in Clarke’s absence, turned Callum Wilson’s low cross towards his own goal. Luckily for the defender, Jamie Jones was on his toes and did brilliantly to get down to his left and turn the ball away.
O’s first sight of goal came on seven minutes when, after a quick break down the right, Romain Vincelot’s classy chip dipped into David Mooney’s path. However the number 10, who bagged himself an opening day goal against Carlisle, was unable to connect with the ball before the advancing ‘keeper took control of things.
But the away side were making most of the early running, with John Fleck pulling the strings in the middle of the park and right-back Cyrus Christie bombing forward and delivering a number of teasing crosses.
And just before the quarter-hour mark a tidy exchange of play on the edge of the O’s box, started by Fleck, gave Moussa a great chance to put the visitors in front. But once again Jones was alert to the danger and came off his line well to block the forward’s effort.
Orient began to settle as the half progressed, winning a number of free-kicks and corners which Lloyd James curled in with the consistent accuracy O’s fans have come to expect from him, although no one in a red shirt was able to find the kind of space Cuthbert did for his goal against Carlisle on the opening day of the season.
Ironically it was an O’s corner that led to the opening goal of the night, which saw Coventry take the lead on 22 minutes.
A long clearance forward was latched onto by Baker who raced in on goal before coming inside to place a good left-footed shot into the bottom left corner.
But just four minutes later, the home side produced the best move of the first period to get themselves back on level terms. Neat build up play involving Vincelot and Kevin Lisbie allowed Cox to find some space on the right before the winger crossed low into the box.
David Mooney snuck in behind the defence to divert the ball goalwards but Coventry ‘keeper Joe Murphy did well to get in the way of his shot, only for the ball to fall at the feet of Lisbie and O’s top scorer last term made no mistake in lashing the ball home to grab his second goal of the new season.
The goal certainly helped the O’s find their rhythm and with just under ten minutes of the first half remaining they found themselves in front. Another good delivery from a James free-kick was cleared to the edge of the area where Cox was lingering, ready for any loose balls, and the winger delivered a finish to match his two top-class efforts at the weekend, firing home a half-volley into the bottom right hand corner.
Coventry reminded the home side that they posed a big threat in the final third a minute before the whistle when Moussa’s stinging effort from the edge of the area rebounded off Jones’s right hand post, ensuring Orient took a 2-1 lead into the break after a balanced first half.
After being slowest to get going in the first half, the O’s made sure they came out on the front foot in the second period with central midfield pair James and Vincelot – so often the providers of goals – having the first two chances. First, James unleashed a thunderous drive towards goal and then Vincelot’s cross-cum-shot with the outside of his right boot was well gathered by the ‘keeper.
The away side had showed signs of improving after this with Clarke and goalscorer Baker both going close. However ten minutes into the half and the O’s saw their opponent’s captain given his marching orders for the second game in a row when Baker went flying into a challenge on Vincelot with two feet.
Despite going down to ten men, Coventry’s brightest player Moussa fired them back on to level terms just three minutes later. The O’s defence failed to deal with a loose ball and the forward capitalised by thumping a first time shot into the bottom right corner, giving Jones little chance.
And with just under 15 minutes to play, the away side were given a golden opportunity to get their noses in front when Cuthbert pulled down Clarke in the area giving referee Dean Whitestone no choice but to point to the spot.
The striker stepped up to take the resultant penalty but Jones – facing his second penalty in as many games – made a fantastic stop low to his right, managing to hold on to the ball in the process.
The O’s started to pile on the pressure going into the final ten minutes, with Lisbie managing to find some space behind the back-line.
In the 89th minute, Moses Odubajo swung in a perfect cross from the left which the striker made sure he got to first, heading into the bottom right corner and well out of the reach of the visiting ‘keeper.
The striker’s second goal of the game and third of the season secured Orient’s place in the second round of the League Cup and ensured Russell Slade’s men didn’t have to endure 30 minutes of extra time and the possibility of penalties so early on in the season.
ORIENT: Jamie Jones; Gary Sawyer, Mathieu Baudry, Scott Cuthbert (C), Elliott Omozusi; Dean Cox (Yohann Lasimant – 85), Lloyd James, Romain Vincelot, Moses Odubajo; David Mooney, Kevin Lisbie. Subs not used: Jake Larkins, Harry Lee, De’Reece Vanderhyde, Jack Sheratt, Johnny Gorman
BOOKINGS: Cuthbert (73)
GOALS: Lisbie (26, 90), Cox (37)
COVENTRY: Joe Murphy, Cyrus Christie, Blair Adams, Conor Thomas, John Fleck, Carl Baker (C), Leon Clarke, Franck Moussa, Jordan Willis, Callum Wilson, Jordan Clarke. Subs not used: Lee Burge, Adam Baton, Billy Daniels, Aaron Phillips, Louis Garner, Leon Lobjoit, Ben Maund
BOOKINGS: Clarke (42), Fleck (63)
RED CARDS: Baker (55)
GOALS: Baker (22), Moussa (59)
REFEREE: Dean Whitestone
ATTENDANCE: 2,871 (487)