Goals from David Mooney and Moses Odubajo sealed a superb 3-1 win for Orient against Swindon in a fiery contest at the County Ground which saw the O’s return to the top of League One.
Nicky Ajose gave the home side the lead in the first half, only for the O’s to immediately respond through Mooney before an Odubajo double either side of half-time completed a superb turnaround for Russell Slade’s side.
Having lost their previous two games, Orient manager Russell Slade made two changes from the side that were beaten 1-0 at home to Preston the previous weekend. Romain Vincelot replaced an injured Lloyd James in the centre of midfield whilst Mathieu Baudry also returned to the starting XI at the heart of the O’s defence alongside Nathan Clarke.
In a lively start to the game, Orient created the first chance of the afternoon on two minutes as Scott Cuthbert rose well in the area but could only head Dean Cox’s corner harmlessly over Wes Foderingham’s crossbar.
It took until 12 minutes for the home side to create their first opening of the match as Nicky Ajose was set through on goal, however Jamie Jones stood tall and denied the winger from a tight angle before comfortably gathering his follow-up effort.
Ten minutes later and Ajose was given the ideal opportunity to make amends for his earlier miss as Jay McEveley found the forward with an excellent through ball, only to see Ajose fire wide from close-range. A massive let-off for Russell Slade’s side.
However, the O’s didn’t heed the warning and it was a case of third time lucky for Ajose as he finally gave Swindon the lead on 23 minutes. Alex Pritchard’s initial effort looked to have been brilliantly blocked by the O’s defence, only for the ball to fall fortuitously to Ajose who was on hand to convert from close-range. The goal would cue a crazy couple of minutes at the County Ground.
Straight from the re-start the O’s would immediately pull themselves level. David Mooney was found in space just inside the penalty area and with Foderingham well off his line, the forward expertly lofted the ball over the keeper to restore parity and grab his 14th goal of the season.
The home fans were still celebrating Ajose’s opener as Orient leveled the scoring and the momentum of the match would switch frantically between the two sides in the minutes that followed Mooney’s equaliser. Nathan Clarke was close to diverting Pritchard’s cross into his own net before Dean Cox and Mooney both came close to giving the O’s a sensational lead before the break.
However, just when it seemed that the match was beginning to return to some state of normality, Russell Slade’s side did indeed grab another goal to turn the game completely on its head. Clarke picked out Kevin Lisbie with a fantastic pass and the forward teed up Cox whose cross was turned in by Moses Odubajo at the back post.
That would prove to be the final chance of the opening period and Chris Sarginson’s half-time whistle gave everyone inside the Country Ground a welcome opportunity to draw breathe after a fast and furious first 45.
And it was a chance that should have been seized as the second half began in equally astonishing fashion. Just moments after the second half had got underway the O’s found themselves 3-1 ahead. Odubajo cut inside Nathan Thompson and was fortunate to see his deflected effort fly past a stranded Foderingham and into the back of the net for his second of the game and Orient’s third.
Odubajo was beginning to really cause the home defence problems and he carved another chance for the visitors on 55 minutes. The winger burst past Thompson and sent in a teasing ball across the box which was close to being bundled into the net by Mooney at the back post.
Although the O’s were creating the majority of the clear-cut chances at the beginning of the second period, Swindon continued to dominate possession and Jamie Jones was at his brilliant best to consistently relieve the mounting pressure with a number of crucial collections.
The game was really beginning to spice up and with the Swindon support growing increasingly frustrated at some of the referee’s decisions, one fan invaded the pitch and made his way towards Jamie Jones before being bundled over by stewards. The Orient goalkeeper was visibly angered by the incident, causing both sets of players to come together and leading to a lengthy delay in proceedings.
When the game was eventually re-started the O’s continued to create chances and were looking increasingly dangerous on the counter attack as the home side pressed to get themselves back into the game. Cox came close to making completely sure of the result on 83 minutes as he fired just over the bar from the edge of the area.
Shaun Batt’s introduction with 15 minutes remaining would only extenuate the Swindon back four’s troubles and the forward’s pace proved too much for Jay McEveley who was handed a second yellow card after bundling over the striker as he burst through on goal.
Despite a brief wave of pressure from the home side, the O’s continued to look the more likely to add to their score. Odubajo, Cox and Batt all came close in the final stages but there would be no more goals as the O’s sealed a fantastic win which saw them return to the summit of League One.
ORIENT: Jones, Omozusi, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Baudry, Cox, Lisbie (Batt, 75) , Mooney (Stockley, 90), Odubajo, Clarke, Bartley (Wright, 88).
SUBS (Not used): Larkins, Sawyer, James, Simpson.
GOALS: Mooney (24), Odubajo (40, 46)
BOOKINGS: Lisbie (45), Omozusi (82)
SWINDON: Foderingham, N. Thompson, Luongo, Hall, Harley, Pritchard (Elgabas, 45) , N’Guessan, McEveley, Kasim (Thompson, 68), Ward, Ajose.
SUBS (Not used): Belford, Storey, Barthram, Agombar, Rossi-Branco.
GOALS: Ajose (23)
BOOKINGS: Elgabas (63), N. Thompson (72)
REDS: McEveley (90)
REFEREE: C. Sarginson
ATTENDANCE: 8634 (562)