Izale McLeod’s first half penalty proved the difference as Orient slipped to a defeat against fellow strugglers Crawley Town.
Reds goalkeeper Lewis Price kept the hosts in the game with several fine saves in the first period, but McLeod slotted home a penalty on 32 minutes after he was brought down in the box by Luke O’Neill.
Boss Fabio Liverani made two changes from the side which drew 0-0 at home to Barnsley on Tuesday night, with Dean Cox and Marvin Bartley restored to the starting line-up in place of Jobi McAnuff and Bradley Pritchard.
Both sides took their time to settle into the game, but the first real chance fell to Orient when Josh Wright, previously on loan with the Reds earlier in the season, fluffed a shot wide from just outside the box.
Crawley’s first opportunity soon followed as Mathias Pogba played a ball through the centre of the O’s defence and found Izale McLeod but he dragged his effort inches wide of the far post.
That started a spell of pressure for the hosts, but Orient weathered the storm and Lewis Price in the home goal did well to push Chris Dagnall’s fierce effort behind after the striker had been played in by a Dean Cox flick.
Orient began to work their way into the game and Henderson and Dagnall worked well to force another opportunity for the visitors, but after a goalmouth scramble Henderson’s acute angled effort was pushed behind by Price.
Price again had to be on top form to keep out Orient as a corner for the visitors was only cleared to Nathan Clarke. His played the ball back to Cox on the edge of the area and after taking one touch he fired goalwards only to be denied by Price once more.
It was all Orient and Cox created another opening as he played in Dagnall but once again Price was there to make the save for the hosts.
It was certainly action-packed opening and Crawley fashioned the next chance in the 28th minute as Ryan Dickson’s ball in from the left found Gavin Tomlin but his turn and shot was wide of Alex Cisak’s goal.
But the hosts had a great chance of taking the lead on 32 minutes when McLeod’s mazy run into the box saw the striker pulled down by O’Neill and referee Andy Davies pointed to the spot.
McLeod stepped up to take the spot kick and slotted it past Cisak who went the wrong and the Reds were in front.
Price was replaced at half time by Brian Jensen in the only change at the break. And the hosts almost doubled their lead after just 11 seconds when Tomlin fizzed an effort wide.
Jensen was soon called into action and did superb to deny Marvin Bartley’s curling effort from just outside the box, before Cox fired straight at the goalkeeper from the resulting corner.
Hedges won a free-kick 25 yards from goal, but Andrea Dossena’s effort was over the bar.
O’s made all three changes with Jay Simpson, McAnuff and David Mooney all on as Orient looked for a way back into the game, but chances were few and far between as the game entered the final 20 minutes.
Dossena let fly from distance on 75 minutes, but his effort was straight at Jensen. Orient were pushing numbers forward but it simply wasn’t working for the O’s as time began to run out for the visitors.
A deflected effort from Hedges was held by Jensen, but it was another frustrating afternoon. And as the board went up for four minutes stoppage time, Mooney was expertly denied by Jensen and then Hedges flick in the box was pushed over the bar by the Dane.
CRAWLEY: Price (Jensen 46), Dickson, Bradley, McLeod, Young, Fowler, Tomlin (Oyebanjo 90+2′), Ward, Wordsworth, Pogba (Elliott 62’), Wood.
SUBS: Oyebanjo, Edwards, Smith, Morgan, Bawling.
Goals: McLeod 32’ (pen)
Bookings: Wordsworth 44’ Elliott 65’ Dickson 90′
ORIENT: Cisak, O’Neill, Cuthbert, Clarke (c), Cuthbert, Dossena, Cox (McAnuff 70’) , Wright, Bartley (Mooney 66’), Hedges, Henderson (Simpson 70’), Dagnall.
SUBS: Sawyer, Baudry, Pritchard, Woods.
Bookings: O’Neill 32′ Bartley 44’ Clarke 81’ Hedges 86’
Attendance: 3255 (823 Leyton Orient)