In his first game in charge, Carl Fletcher named the same starting XI that beat Grimsby 4-0 on the road. Jamie Turley and Hector Kyprianou replaced Myles Judd and Shadrach Ogie on the bench.
The Pilgrims enjoyed the opening five minutes of the game, creating a couple of early chances. First, Zak Rudden looked to make an impact as he rushed onto a ball over the top of the O’s defence, but Dean Brill was alert and came to clear the danger on the edge of his area.
Captain Josh Coulson took the sting out of George Cooper’s effort from the edge of the area, allowing Brill to make a comfortable save.
Orient’s first opportunity came nine minutes into the match. James Dayton’s curling left-footed shot from 18-yards didn’t have enough spin on it to trouble Alex Palmer, drifting just wide of the mark.
Plymouth took the lead shortly before the 15-minute mark through Joel Grant, but a blatant handball in the build-up will be the talking point. Dean Brill made a tremendous double save to deny both Antoni Sarcevic and Zak Rudden – though the latter had used his hand to help guide the ball, with Grant hammering home the third opportunity. Despite protests from the Orient squad, Referee Craig Hicks awarded the goal.
The man at the centre of controversy then doubled the home advantage. A ball into the area from George Cooper whizzed across the six-yard-box and was flicked home by the head of Rudden.
A third goal came through Callum McFadzean’s shot from the edge of the box, putting Plymouth 3-0 up after 35 minutes.
Argyle would take a four-goal lead into the break, because of a Joe Widdowson own goal in injury time. Dean Brill punched a driven cross onto the back of the defender, and the ball ricocheted into the net.
Louis Dennis replaced James Dayton at the break, as Carl Fletcher made his first substitution of the game.
The second half started at a much slower pace, with the hosts happy to let Orient keep possession.
A James Brophy corner onto the head of Dan Happe forced Palmer into a save, but with no real power on the effort, the ‘keeper collected the ball comfortably.
The clock ticked past the 60-minute mark, with neither side registering a clear-cut chance. James Alabi was brought on in place of Matt Harrold and Jordan Maguire-Drew came on for Dale Gorman, as Orient looked to shake things up in the latter stages.
James Alabi tried the spectacular, guiding the ball in the direction of the opposite top corner from 20-yards, but his shot didn’t possess the dip required to hit the mark.
A deflected Orient cross rattled the top of the crossbar five minutes from time. Jordan Maguire-Drew had looked for a red shirt in the middle, but a deflection changed the course of the ball, almost catching Alex Palmer by surprise.
The Plymouth ‘keeper displayed great agility to deny Dennis as the O’s pushed for a late consolation. After driving down the right channel, a left footed strike from Dennis was pushed onto the post by Palmer, before Alabi fired wide after Clay had kept the ball alive.
ORIENT: Brill, Ekpiteta, Coulson, Happe, Widdowson, Clay, Gorman (Maguire-Drew 72”), Wright, Dayton (Dennis 46’’), Brophy, Harrold (Alabi 64’’)
SUBS: Sargeant, Marsh, Turley, Kyprianou
PLYMOUTH: Palmer, Riley, sawyer, Wootton, Canavan, Sarcevic, Edwards, Grant (Clarke 76”), McFadzean, Cooper (Mayor 64’’), Rudden (Moore 68”)
SUBS: Cooper, Aimson, Randell, Grant
BOOKED: Cooper 55’’ Wootton 66”
GOALS: Grant 14’’ Rudden 17’’ McFadzean 35’’ Widdowson OG 45’’
REF: Craig Hicks
ATT: 8,810 (224)