Ollie Palmer’s strike three minutes from time ensured Leyton Orient ended their League Two campaign with a 1-0 victory at Yeovil Town.
The striker notched his ninth goal of the season with a powerful strike from just inside the area in the dying minutes, on an afternoon which saw fellow strike partner Paul McCallum return from injury and goalkeeper Sam Sargeant impress on his O’s debut.
Going into the final game of the season, Orient made three changes to the side that started the win over Mansfield Town. Sam Sargeant came in for Alex Cisak to make his professional debut for the Club, while Nicky Hunt and Sammy Moore returned to the starting XI.
There was also a welcome return on the bench as striker Paul McCallum was named in the matchday squad for the first time since suffering a knee ligament injury against Northampton last September.
In sunny conditions at Huish Park it was the hosts who enjoyed the brighter start, and striker Francois Zoko drilled a shot over the bar from the edge of the area before Nathan Smith squandered a wonderful chance to make it 1-0 when he powered a header from Matthew Dolan’s corner over from close range.
Aron Pollock and Sandro Semedo were making back-to-back starts for the O’s having impressed against Mansfield, and the pair produced separate pieces of impressive defending within the space of a minute as Semedo first thwarted a break into the box before Pollock calmly dispossessed Zoko on the edge of the area.
With 18 minutes played there was a worry for the Orient bench however when centre half Shaun Brisley went down with what appeared to be an ankle injury after clearing the ball out for a throw. The defender returned to the pitch but only lasted a matter of four minutes before being forced off and replaced by Blair Turgott.
Due to the substitution the O’s shuffled the side, as Nicky Hunt moved across to centre back and Sean Clohessy reverted to right back as Turgott took up a familiar position on the wing.
Sam Sargeant had enjoyed a routine start to professional football and looked assured when called into action midway through the first half as he comfortably held Marc Laird’s shot from inside the box.
The youngster, who put pen-to-paper on a two-year professional contract along with Pollock on Friday, then produced a stunning save seven minutes before half time as he flew across his goal to push Liam Shephard’s 25-yard effort behind for a corner.
Orient had struggled to really create any opportunities throughout the first half, and went into the break goalless following Sargeant’s stop.
Following the interval both sides returned for the second half unchanged, and a neat passing move released Clohessy down the right before the full back saw his shot held by Artur Krysiak at his near post.
Moments later Sargeant was called into action for the O’s, producing another brilliant stop to keep out Liam Walsh’s stinging drive following a short corner from the hosts before holding on to Connor Roberts’ strike shortly after.
As the hour mark approached Orient suffered another injury blow in defence, as this time Pollock was forced off having failed to shake off an injury picked up at the end of the first half.
Josh Koroma came on in place of the centre half, which triggered another shuffle in defence as Peter Ramage moved across to the middle and Semedo dropped to left back.
Following the substitution Orient were then awarded their first corner of the afternoon, and the opportunity almost led to the opening goal as Ramage got up well to power Lloyd James’ delivery over the bar.
The 73rd minute then brought a huge cheer for the 317 strong travelling supporters, as Paul McCallum came on for top scorer Jay Simpson to make his first appearance in over seven months following a knee ligament injury.
With the final 10 minutes approaching Yeovil’s Smith was left ruing another missed chance from a corner, this time volleying Shephard’s delivery into the ground and over the bar.
All O’s fans were hoping to see McCallum find the back of the net on his return from injury, and the striker managed exactly that with four minutes remaining only for the goal not to count due to play being already called back for an Orient free-kick.
Despite seeing McCallum’s strike ruled out, Orient were able to make the breakthrough less than a minute later when Yeovil failed to clear James’ ball into the box and substitute Koroma teed up Palmer to rifle a shot beyond Krysiak via the post.
In response to Palmer’s strike Yeovil pushed forward for a late equaliser, and Sargeant had to be on his toes to gather substitute Jake Compton’s header on the 90th minute.
With the match deep into stoppage time the 18-year-old then received plaudits from his teammates as he bravely came flying off his line to punch a free-kick behind before convincingly holding the ensuing corner and confirming victory for the O’s.
The win means Orient end the season 8th in League Two on 69 points.
YEOVIL: Krysiak, Roberts, Lacey, Smith, Dickson (C), Walsh, Shephard, Dolan, Laird (Goodship 63), Cornick (Compton 67), Zoko (Sowunmi 83)
SUBS: Weale, Bird, Jeffers, Lita
ORIENT: Sargeant, Hunt, Pollock (Koroma 57), Brisley (Turgott 22), Ramage, Clohessy, James (C), Moore, Semedo, Simpson (McCallum 73), Palmer
SUBS: Cisak, Judd, Moncur, Kashket
GOALS: Palmer (87)
REFEREE: Philip Gibbs
ATTENDANCE: 4,163 (317 Orient supporters)