A last gasp winner from former O’s striker Alex Revell condemned Orient to their first League defeat of 2014.
Wes Thomas had given the home side the early on as Rotherham came flying out of the blocks but Moses Odubajo pulled the O’s level in the second half with a wonderful finish from Chris Dagnall’s cross.
It looked like Orient would take a point but with time running out Revell sent a low shot from distance into the bottom corner to send the O’s home empty handed.
Fresh from a busy January transfer window, Orient manager Russell Slade shuffled his pack as Robbie Simpson came in for the injured Kevin Lisbie to partner Chris Dagnall up front whilst Ben Alnwick made his second debut for the O’s in goal.
It was the club’s first visit to the New York Stadium and gusty conditions greeted the O’s in Yorkshire. The wind would take some adjustment for both sets of players but it almost got Orient off to a flyer when Alnwick’s goal-kick swirled in the breeze and Simpson nodded it into the path of Dean Cox but the in-form winger put his volleyed effort just wide of the upright.
It was an even opening period but Orient fell behind with nine minutes on the clock. The O’s failed to properly clear a corner and Ben Pringle latched on to a loose ball on the right before sending in a perfect cross for Thomas to get in front of his man and glance a header beyond Alnwick.
The home side were working tirelessly to press from the front but as strong as they looked in the final third, they looked equally shaky at the back and with 16 minutes played, Cox grabbed hold of a ball that was loose outside the Millers’ box and unleashed a dipping shot that Adam Collin parried into the path of Simpson who adjusted to the awkward bounce to get a shot away but Collin saved comfortably.
The delivery of Pringle remained the biggest threat of the Millers whilst former O’s man Alex Revell battled away to lead the line in a feisty aerial battle with Mathieu Baudry. Midway through the half, the O’s French defender almost pulled his side level after a Cox set play caused a scramble but Baudry couldn’t quite adjust his feet to turn it home.
There was no hiding from the fact that Orient had been below par however as the intensity and fluidity that characterised their performance midweek against Coventry was only shown in flashes as opposed to sustained periods of play. Whilst you had to give credit to the way the home side worked and pressed tirelessly.
The O’s manager would have seen enough hesitancy in the Millers’ backline though that would have encouraged him to think there was a way back into the game as on several occasions they made difficult work of clearing their lines.
With five minutes of the first half remaining the O’s had their best chance of the half when Simpson shielded a ball into the path of Cox following good work from Moses Odubajo and Romain Vincelot but the winger dragged his shot wide on the angle.
The O’s started the second half with more purpose than they did the first but the first talking point came with nine minutes of the second period played when Odubajo was scythed down by a wild late tackle from Claude Davis. The O’s bench was in uproar at the tackle but it was only a caution for the defender.
With little going Orient’s way, Slade turned to his talisman Mooney just before the hour mark as he replaced Simpson.
It was the new ‘keeper Alnwick who came to Orient’s rescue soon after though when he stood up tall to deny substitute Tom Hitchcock who raced through on goal.
The game threatened to go flat as both sides struggled to get any sort of momentum as Orient searched for a spark and it came eventually from Odubajo.
Dagnall did well to collect a long Clarke pass on the left and when his cross was too deep for Mooney, Odubajo arrived right on cue to collect the ball and thump a wonderful shot into the top corner of the net.
Orient didn’t look content with a point and continued to press in search for a winner as Odubajo, fresh from his goal, looked rejuvenated on the right as the O’s finished the stronger but the scores remained level.
However with time ticking away, Revell took aim from distance to haunt his former employers.
ORIENT: Alnwick, Omozusi, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Baudry, Cox, James (Bartley 69), Odubajo, Clarke (C), Dagnall (Loza 89), Simpson (Mooney 56)
SUBS NOT USED: Sawyer, Larkins, Lasimant, Ness
GOALS: Odubajo (75)
BOOKINGS: Bartley (79)
ROTHERHAM: Collin, Bradley, Amason, Davis (Skarz 61), Tavernier, Agard, Smallwood, Frecklington (C), Pringle, Revell, Thomas (Hitchcock 45)
SUBS NOT USED: Shearer, Brindley, O’Connor, Addison, Vuckic,
GOALS: Thomas (9) Revell (90)
BOOKINGS: Davis (45)Smallwood (90)
ATTENDANCE: 8604 (703)