New signing Chris Dagnall became an instant hero for Orient as he struck twice in a brutal seven minute spell as Orient came from behind to snatch a 2-1 win at Gresty Road.
The striker only came on at half time to replace Robbie Simpson and wasted no time in first firing Dean Cox’s through ball home in the left channel before smashing a loose ball in from eight yards, all after Byron Moore had given the home side the lead against the run of play.
Jamie Ness made his first league start for the O’s as he stepped in to fill the place of Marvin Bartley whilst the other 10 all started in the 4-0 demolition of Carlisle last weekend.
New signing Dagnall took up a place on the bench for the O’s, as did Romain Vincelot who has been absent since sustaining a knee injury at Wolves last month.
It was a bench that was full of attacking options as Orient looked to complete the double over Alexandra having won 2-0 in the reverse fixture in E10 back in August.
Eldin Jakupovic has barely had a save to make in his first 180 minutes in an Orient shirt but showed a safe pair of hands to gather a Bradden Inman strike inside the first minute.
It was an otherwise uneventful opening five minutes as both sides scrapped and struggled to adjust to the gusty conditions at Gresty Road.
Orient dominated possession though had to wait until the 13th minute for their first chance. Lloyd James spotted the run of Kevin Lisbie and found him with a driven long pass, though as the striker looked to poke it past goalkeeper Ben Garratt, the Crewe stopper charged his effort down.
The home side looked largely toothless but five minutes later forced Jakupovic into action again when the Hull loanee dived well down to his left to gather Ajay Leitch-Smith’s shot from the edge of the box.
Lisbie impressed for the O’s with his ability to hold up the ball and scrap to win possession in difficult areas whilst the final ball of his teammates was lacking when required most, though they looked their usual neat and tidy selves in tight areas with James pulling the strings in midfield.
As the half wore on, Dean Cox began to drift across the park and carved a decent chance with five minutes of the half remaining as he crossed for Moses Odubajo who could only head wide.
With time running out before the break Orient had a big shout for penalty denied by referee Andy Woolmer. Cox set Odubajo racing free down the right hand side and as he entered the box he appeared to fall under a shove by Matt Tootle, though nothing was given to the dismay of O’s boss Slade as the sides headed in level.
The O’s boss turned to his new man Dagnall at the interval as he replaced Robbie Simpson and the away side looked sharp out of the blocks as Ness went close to his second in as many games when his shot was deflected narrowly over following a Cox free-kick.
It was against the run of play though that the home side grabbed the lead. The O’s are allowed Chuks Aneke too much time and space in the box and he fired a shot that was brilliantly saved by Jakupovic, however the rebound fell kindly for Byron Moore to turn the ball home.
The goal gave the home side life and Aneke had a chance to put the game to bed soon after a Orient appeared shaken at the back in the aftermath of the goal.
It was the O’s though that turned the game again through that man Dagnall. After a couple of neat touches, the new signing sprang into life when he latched on to a Cox ball in the left channel and hit a wonderful shot on the bounce past Garratt to make it 1-1.
His work wasn’t finished there though as seven minutes later he grabbed his second. Orient were rejuvenated going forwards and when Scott Cuthbert swung a ball in from the right it was headed back across goal for Dagnall to smash a volley home.
It was a frantic debut for the new man but Orient were content to slow the game down and retain the ball. Crewe were the shaken side now, though the introduction of substitute Uche Ikpeazu did provide a physical threat for them going through and as time ticked on it looked like he might have levelled it when his shot took a wicked deflection to wrong foot Jakupovic but it rolled agonisingly wide.
CREWE: Garratt, Tootle, Mellor, Davis, Ellis, Osman (C) (Evans 86), Leitch-Smith (Ikpeazu 74), Moore (Pogba 84), Inman, Aneke, Grant
SUBS: Martin, Ray, Guthrie, Waters
GOALS: Moore (54)
BOOKINGS: Mellor (9) Aneke (61)
ORIENT: Jakupovic, Omozusi, Cuthbert, Baudry, Cox, James, Lisbie, Odubajo, Clarke (C), Simpson (Dagnall 45), Ness (Vincelot 60)
SUBS: Sawyer, Larkins, Lasimant, Loza, Coulthirst
GOALS: Dagnall (60, 67)
BOOKINGS: Dagnall (70) Cuthbert (82) Vincelot (89)
REFEREE: Andy Woolmer
ATTENDANCE: 4,830 (504)