Orient’s first home league match of the season saw them run out 3-0 winners over Shrewsbury Town to ensure they maintained their 100% record in all competitions.
After a goalless first half where neither side dominated, the O’s put in a blistering second half performance which saw David Mooney notch his second and third goals of the season and Moses Odubajo get off the mark with a remarkable solo effort in stoppage time.
Gary Sawyer was the only man to make way from Russell Slade’s starting XI against Coventry City in mid-week. In his place was O’s skipper Nathan Clarke who made a full recovery from the injuries he sustained when he was knocked unconscious during the opening day victory over Carlisle to take his place alongside Mathieu Baudry at centre-half.
It was a tentative start to the game with both sides struggling to hold on to possession for long enough to create any decent openings, but it wasn’t long before the O’s found their stride and the momentum swang their way.
Orient forward David Mooney had the game’s first chance when he danced past a couple of defenders on the edge of the opponent’s area before hitting a low shot goalwards, but goalkeeper Chris Weale managed to gather comfortably.
Soon after, a good spell of pressure from the home side resulted in a deep cross from Dean Cox which dropped at the feet of Baudry who turned well inside the box before striking narrowly wide of Shrewsbury’s left hand post.
That chance got the O’s fans on their feet and the team responded with a series of shots at the Shrews goal. Cox and Clarke both saw their attempts go narrowly over and then a low shot from Mooney was back-heeled towards goal by Kevin Lisbie. Although he didn’t manage to find the target, the fans sounded their appreciation for the striker’s audacious effort.
The home crowd were certainly in good voice for the first league fixture at the Matchroom Stadium this season, boosted by the young O’s fans who have been given free season tickets by the club for the 2013/14 campaign.
However, the pace of the match died down somewhat after Orient’s flurry of chances and it wasn’t until the half-hour mark until either goal was threatened again.
Shrewsbury striker Graham Burke did well to find some space on the edge of the O’s box before he curled a low shot towards Jamie Jones’ goal but the ‘keeper was never going to be troubled by the effort and it went a good yard wide of his right hand post.
Elliot Omozusi, who started at left-back ahead of Sawyer today, had been having a solid game up against Shrews right-winger Paul Parry but a tough challenge – for which he was booked – gave the visitors a free-kick in a dangerous area. Luckily for the O’s, Parry’s curling effort was very well held by a diving Jones.
Moments later the O’s ‘keeper was forced in to action again. This time Aaron Wilding ghosted into Orient’s box before finding himself in plenty of space to get a shot away. But Jones, who performed heroics in midweek to keep out a Coventry penalty which could have seen them knocked out of the League Cup in the first round, was up to the task, tipping the ball wide.
With little more than five minutes left of the first period, a good move down the O’s right almost saw the home side grab the lead against the run of play. Scott Cuthbert’s quick throw-in gave Lisbie and Mooney the chance to link up well before the latter struck a well-hit half-volley from the edge of the area, only for Weale to parry it away from danger.
Despite both teams bringing out the best in the opponent’s goalkeepers during the first half, neither side was able to get their noses in front, meaning the O’s went in to the break with the scoreboard reading 0-0 for the first time this season.
Neither manager made any changes for the second half, and it began in a similarly balanced fashion to the opening period.
The O’s had to wait until 52 minutes before catching their first sight of goal when Odubajo crossed from the right wing and Mooney rose to head just wide of the post.
Soon after Dean Cox sent in a cross from the opposite flank which was met by the head of Romain Vincelot, who had made a great run from midfield, but the Frenchman’s well-directed effort was held by Weale.
The O’s soon began to realise that the balls they were delivering into the box were not being dealt with by the visitor’s defence and sensed the opportunity to take the lead.
Another cross from the right, when Cuthbert overlapped Odubajo to send in an enticing delivery, was met by the head of Mooney who stooped down to reach the low cross and direct it in to the bottom left corner of the net to put the home side 1-0 up on 56 minutes.
The goal really sparked both the home fans and players alike in to action and a great run by Odubajo just a minute after going in front enabled him to thread a great pass through to Lisbie. The O’s top scorer found himself one-on-one with the ‘keeper inside the 18-yard box before beating him with a low shot, only for an opposition defender to get back on the line and dramatically clear the danger.
Clarke’s long throws caused problems for opponents all pre-season and in the first league game against Carlisle before he was taken off through injury, but fellow defender Cuthbert today showed that he can perform the same role when called upon.
His throw-in from deep inside the Shrewsbury half on 63 minutes found Lisbie at the front post, who had managed to get in front of his man and flick the ball into the path of his strike partner, and Mooney made no mistake in sending the ball beyond Weale to grab his second of the day and third of the season.
The away side recovered well after suffering such a killer blow, forcing Orient on to the back foot. However they could have found themselves down to 10 men on 72 minutes when Wilding flew into a challenge on Omozusi on the edge of the O’s penalty area but the referee instead gave him a firm talking to and a yellow card.
With just over ten minutes left to play, yet another cross from Odubajo found Cox at the far post but his powerful shot was well blocked by Shrewsbury who just about managed to clear the danger.
O’s boss Slade introduced Shaun Batt and Marvin Bartley in the second half and both were involved in a superb counter-attack with the clock ticking down. The move ended with Cox finding Odubajo free inside the opponent’s box thanks to a delightful pass with the outside of his right boot. The young winger’s shot beat Weale all ends up but cannoned back off the left hand post and away from danger.
Odubajo had been given licence to come inside from the right wing as the half progressed and he ensured the game finished with a goal of the highest class a minute into stoppage time.
After brushing aside several Shrewsbury challenges, the number 11 advanced into the box and, just when you thought he was heading away from goal, steered an inch-perfect left-footed shot into the far right corner – sending the home fans into raptures.
There is no doubt that the goal will be looked back upon as one of the season’s best come the end of the campaign, and it was a fitting way to ensure Orient remained top of the league with two games played, having scored an impressive eight goals – making them the top scorers across all three Football Leagues.
ORIENT: Jones; Omozusi, Clarke (C), Baudry, Cuthbert; Cox (Lasimant, 88), James (Bartley, 75), Vincelot, Odubajo; Mooney, Lisbie (Batt, 66). Subs not used: Sawyer, Larkins, Lee, Gorman
BOOKINGS: Omozusi (32)
GOALS: Mooney (56, 63), Odubajo (90+1)
SHREWSBURY: Weale, Jacobsen, Summerfield, Jones, Bradshaw, Taylor, Wilding, Mkandawire (C), Parry, Goldson, Burke. Subs not used: McAllister, McQuade, Woods, Anyon, Smith
BOOKINGS: Wilding (72)
REFEREE: Patrick Miller
ATTENDANCE: 4,414 (358)