The O’s knocked Coventry out of a cup competition for the second time this season at Brisbane Road on Tuesday evening, but needed penalties to secure the win on this occasion.
A largely uneventful 90 minutes saw Moses Odubajo and substitute David Mooney denied by two top-class saves from Coventry goalkeeper Joe Murphy, but the visitors did not manage to create any clear-cut chances themselves, meaning the game finished goalless and had to be decided on penalties.
A last minute Kevin Lisbie goal was enough to snatch a win for the O’s when these two sides met in the League Cup during the opening month of the season but the experienced striker was rested for tonight’s second round tie in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
Orient boss Russell Slade used the game to bring in four players who have predominantly found themselves on the fringes so far this season, given the team’s phenomenal start to the campaign. Gary Sawyer, Yohann Lasimant, Jayden Stockley and Shaun Batt, whose goal rescued a point against Oldham at the weekend, all came into the starting line-up while Romain Vincelot also returned having served his one match ban for picking up two yellow cards against Walsall in O’s last home match.
Both sides set themselves up in a 4-4-2 formation but Orient’s version was looking by far the more fluid early on with Yohann Lasimant, who started on the left of midfield, regularly joining the front pairing of Jayden Stockley and Shaun Batt in more central areas.
Coventry struggled to make an impact in open play for much of the first half but some sloppy tackles from the O’s allowed the visitors several opportunities from free-kicks in dangerous positions. Fortunately for the home side, the Sky Blues failed to make the most of these chances.
There was a spell midway through the half which began to expose the number of changes Orient had made to the team, with their play beginning to look disjointed and slightly untidy. However midfield duo Lloyd James and Romain Vincelot, whose partnership has been key to the O’s success so far this season, began to take a grip of the game and the home side began to tick once more.
Likewise, youngster Moses Odubajo – who has maturity beyond his years – started to come into the game forcing a couple of corners for his team, but there was not enough desire to get on the end of James’s subsequent deliveries.
Jayden Stockley almost put an end to that trend with just under five minutes left in the half when the loanee striker got the better of his marker to direct a header goalwards, but he was unable to find the target with his side’s best chance of the half.
Odubajo was one of the few lively men on the pitch in the first half and, after switching to the left wing, he continued this in the opening minutes of the second – forcing a corner and sending two shots just wide before the clock had even reached 50 minutes.
And soon after, the winger had the best chance of the game. James sent a brilliantly controlled volley over the visitors’s defence and Odubajo did well to out-muscle the defender and get an accurate left-footed shot off, however Joe Murphy was equal to the effort in the Coventry goal.
Despite forcing five corners in the opening 15 minutes of the half, Coventry’s delivery continued to pose little threat to Orient’s defence. But the intensity with which the away side were beginning to launch their attacks did seem to unsettle the home side.
Slade reacted to his side coming under increasing amounts of pressure by throwing on top-scorer David Mooney and Dean Cox for Batt and Lasimant, respectively, with the game entering the its final quarter.
And as full-time approached it began to look like one goal would be enough to secure the win for whichever side could find it first. Substitute Mooney must have thought he had done just this on 80 minutes when he crept in at the back post to head James’s free-kick towards the Coventry goal, only for Murphy to deny him with another spectacular save.
The visiting ‘keeper had definitely been kept the most busy throughout the 90 minutes but both stoppers were called in to action when referee Tim Robinson blew his final whistle, signalling that the game would be decided on penalties.
Orient no.1 Jones gave his side an early advantage in the shootout, saving Coventry’s second kick, before John Fleck sent another wide for the visitors.
Meanwhile the O’s were clinical from 12 yards – scoring all four of their efforts despite the vocal and animated away support doing their best to intimidate them from behind the goal.
It was reliable central midfielder James who took the deciding kick for Slade’s men, remaining cool and composed to slot home and send his side into the third round of the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy.
ORIENT: Jones, Omozusi, Clarke (C), Cuthbert, Sawyer, Odubajo, Vincelot, James, Lasimant (Cox, 74), Stockley (Bartley, 83), Batt (Mooney, 65).
SUBS NOT USED: Larkins, Lee
BOOKINGS: Cuthbert (19)
COVENTRY: Murphy, Adams, Webster, Thomas, Fleck, L.Clarke, Moussa, Barton (Daniels, 74), Willis (Phillips, 65), Wilson, J.Clarke.
SUBS NOT USED: Burge, Manset, Haynes
BOOKINGS: Fleck (69), Wilson (86)
ORIENT: Mooney, Omozusi, Sawyer, James
COVENTRY: L.Clarke, J. Clarke
ATTENDANCE: 2,151 (489 away)
REFEREE: Tim Robinson