ORIENT were knocked out of the FA Cup at the first hurdle after a Mike Jones free-kick was enough to give Oldham a 1-0 win at Boundary Park. It was a closely contested affair with little to choose between the teams and the O’s may consider themselves a little unfortunate not to have forced a replay as they enjoyed decent spells of possession and had a goal ruled out against Nathan Clarke in the second half.
Mauro Milanese made four changes to the side in his first FA Cup game as a manager with Shane Lowry coming in for Elliot Omozusi and Bradley Pritchard starting in place of Marvin Bartley alongside Josh Wright in midfield. Injuries to Gianvito Plasmati and Jobi McAnuff saw a return to the starting line up for Shaun Batt. It was a youthful looking bench again with Victor Adeboyejo the first year scholar and striker taking a place alongside amongst others Adam Legzdins who was returning from a broken finger.
It was a scrappy start from both sides but Orient provided the first move of quality after 10 minutes when they worked it neatly from right to left and back in for Josh Wright to shoot from distance that forced a low save from Paul Rachubka.
The two goalkeepers were spectators for long periods as Orient worked hard to restrict the home side and defensively looked solid against a side who have been in electric form since the League defeat to the O’s back in August.
Orient grew into the game as Chris Dagnall and Jay Simpson started to develop a better understanding of each other as a partnership. At the other end Dominic Poleon showed glimpses of energy but Clarke and Baudry worked well in tandem to keep him at bay.
Milanese would have been relatively happy with his side’s organisation in the first 30 minutes but would have been keen to see more of a creative spark in the final third.
With 35 gone Orient created the best chance of the game when Batt wriggled down the left and cut the ball back across the face of Dean Cox who hit a powerful shot from 10 yards that Rachubka did brilliantly to parry over the bar.
It was the home side though that grabbed the lead with their first effort on target soon after. Simpson lost possession midway inside his own half which sparked an Oldham attack and free-kick from 25 yards after Scott Cuthbert blocked the run of Liam Kelly. Mike Jones stepped up and bent the ball over the wall past Woods to break the deadlock.
There was not much in it in the opening 45 minutes and Milanese would have felt disappointed to go in behind.
The O’s controlled much of the early possession in the second period with Josh Wright getting on the ball at every opportunity though the goalscorer for Oldham Jones, twice went close in the opening exchanges sandwiched between a decent opening for Batt who shot straight at the ‘keeper after good work from Dagnall.
There was not a huge amount for the 129 travelling supporters to get excited about as despite dominating the play, they failed to really test Rachubka in the Oldham goal.
As the game wore on though Orient pushed the home side deeper into their own territory and skipper Clarke looked intent on scoring against his former side. First he headed a free-kick back across the face which was almost turned in and then just a minute later he thought he had done it when he rose highest to head home a Cox corner but the referee blew up for a foul in the six yard box.
Milanese rolled the dice by introducing Gary Sawyer and switching to a 3-4-1-2 system with Cox behind the two strikers and Cuthbert, Lowry and Clarke making up the three central defenders.
Cox forced a save from Rachubka in the final stages from distance and Pritchard sliced wide after good work from Sawyer but it was not to be as Orient look to keep their cup season alive on Tuesday in the JPT against Northampton.
OLDHAM: Rachubka, Mills, Kelly (C), Jones, Poleon (Dayton 74), Philliskirk, Forte, Winchester, J Wilson, B Wilson, Kusunga
Goals: Jones 37
Bookings: Philliskirk 45, Kelly 48, J Wilson 72
Subs: Etheridge, Dieng, Lockwood, Mellor, Truelove, Tuohy
ORIENT: Woods, Cuthbert, Baudry (Sawyer 82), Cox, Lowry, Batt (Bartley 56), Clarke (C), Wright, Pritchard, Dagnall, Simpson
Subs: Omozusi, Lee, Kashket, Adeboyejo, Legzdins
Bookings: Batt 35, Baudry 41
REF: S Stockbridge
Attendance: 3034 (129) – thanks for your support