Elliott Romain’s first half goal saw Orient defeated at home this evening, Macauley Bonne and David Mooney went close for the O’s but couldn’t convert late chances.
Head Coach Justin Edinburgh made two changes to the side who started the 1-1 draw with Ebbsfleet United on Saturday. Josh Koroma and Dan Holman dropped to the bench with Lamar Reynolds and David Mooney coming in to replace them.
Orient travelled to Torquay in the reverse fixture on November 25th where goals from Josh McQuoid, Luke Young and Jamie Reid saw the O’s lose 3-0 at Plainmoor.
The O’s started the match brightly, moving the ball with confidence and creating their first attack within the opening minute which ended with Reynolds firing his shot harmlessly over the crossbar from range.
Then, Torquay’s Sean McGinty escaped punishment despite deliberately handling the ball after losing his footing with Mooney in pursuit. However, the resulting free kick came to nothing with George Elokobi’s header falling into the grateful arms of Vincent Dorel in the visiting goal.
On nine minutes, the O’s had their best chance of the game when Macauley Bonne’s header was superbly saved at point blank range by Dorel despite the offside flag being raised. It was a continuous wave of Orient pressure in the early stages with plenty of space emerging for the hosts to try and exploit.
Having spent much of the opening 15 minutes on the back foot, Torquay registered their first shot but Brett Williams blazed his effort high and wide of Dean Brill in the Orient goal. Orient quickly regained control of the game, dictating the tempo, and finding openings before Elokobi tried his luck from a long-range free kick that was straight at Dorel.
At the other end, Torquay came close to opening the scoring against the run of play when Elliott Romain’s deft touch guided the ball on to the right-hand post. However, it would not have counted as the linesman’s flag was raised on the near side.
With half an hour played, there was a lengthy stoppage in play as Josh Gowling received treatment after a heavy collision with his goalkeeper at a set-piece. Thankfully, Gowling was able to see himself off the pitch but was swiftly replaced by Tommy O’Sullivan.
As played resumed on 37 minutes, it was Torquay who broke the deadlock when Williams showed good footwork to evade Jake Caprice before lifting a cross into the box for Romain to head home from close range and give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Five minutes of stoppage time were indicated at the end of the first half, with Orient looking shaken by Torquay’s opener and the crowd getting noticeably restless in the stands. With no change in the scoreline, the teams went in level at the break with Torquay by far the happier of the two sides.
Orient got the second half underway and quickly the referee was called into action after a brief scuffle between Ebou Adams and Romain saw both players go into the referee’s notebook.
After a nervy start to the half, Elokobi almost brought the O’s level only to see his header tipped away by Dorel for a corner. Shortly after, the O’s made a double switch with Matt Harrold and Joe Widdowson coming on for Reynolds and Caprice before an immediate goal mouth scramble saw Elokobi denied once again.
On the hour mark, some great individual play from James Brophy saw him skip round several challenges before slipping the ball into Widdowson whose shot was deflected behind for a corner. This was more encouraging from the O’s who made their final change on 62 minutes with Koroma replacing Craig Clay in midfield.
Moments later, Harrold latched onto Sam Ling’s inviting delivery from the right but watched his headed effort sail over the crossbar. With time ticking the clock was against the O’s, and with all their substitutions made it was going to be a tense finale as they continued to push for that much-needed equaliser.
With ten minutes remaining, Elokobi took responsibility for a close range free kick which he curled over the top. Meanwhile, Torquay were happy to frustrate the O’s by slowing the pace of the game and restricting their chances in front of goal.
Bonne saw his header from Mooney’s cross go begging, then in the last seconds of the game, Mooney struck the post from Bonne’s flick on as Torquay left E10 with all three points.
ORIENT: Brill, Caprice (Widdowson 57’), Elokobi, Bonne, Mooney (C), Coulson, Clay (Koroma 62’), Brophy, Adams, Reynolds (Harrold 57’), Ling.
SUBS: Grainger, Holman.
BOOKED: Adams (49’).
TORQUAY UNITED: Dorel, Davis, McGinty, Gowling (O’Sullivan 35’), Young, Sokolik, Barnes, Romain (Reid 75’), Balatoni, Evans, Williams (Pittman 81’).
SUBS: Clarke, Dowling.
BOOKED: Sokolik (19’), Romain (49’), Evans (71’), Davis (73’).
GOALS: Romain (37’)
ATTENDANCE: 2,900 (155 Torquay)
REFEREE: Alan Dale