A late Reuben Reid goal condemned Leyton Orient to a 2-1 defeat at Cheltenham Town this afternoon.
In wet and wild conditions in Gloucestershire it was the O’s who took a freak lead on 17 minutes when goalkeeper Evans’ clearance hit Conor Wilkinson and ended up in the back of the net. However the Robins were level within a minute as Alfie May fired home after Luke Varney’s shot deflected into his path. With the conditions favouring the hosts in the second half, Orient had their backs to the wall for much of the second 45 and it looked like their good defending was going to earn them a point on the road. That was until sub Reuben Reid headed home with just three minutes remaining to ensure all three points for Cheltenham.
After Tuesday night’s win over Mansfield Town, Ross Embleton named an unchanged Orient side meaning James Dayton continued in midfield against his former club.
Despite various games across the country falling victim to Storm Dennis, this game at the Jonny-Rocks Stadium was never a doubt to start although the early stages saw both teams taking time to find their rhythm.
The first real chance of the match fell to the hosts on the quarter hour mark. Left wing-back Chris Hussey floated an early cross into the box and when Dan Happe misjudged the flight of the ball in the wind, Alfie May cushioned a volley just wide of Vigouroux’s far post.
The O’s regrouped and despite not yet creating a chance, took the lead two minutes later in freak circumstances. A Cheltenham defender played the ball back to ‘keeper Evans and his clearance deflected off the advancing Conor Wilkinson and flew the opposite direction into the back of the net for 1-0.
Frustratingly, parity was restored immediately. Moments after the restart Luke Varney saw a shot deflect from distance and May was the quickest to react to fire home an equaliser.
Despite the conditions the game continued to be end-to-end with Clay firing over the bar from Angol’s knockdown before Lawrence Vigouroux came to Orient’s rescue on 24 minutes, denying May a second after the lively striker latched onto a poor backpass from Happe and looked to slot home. Varney collected the rebound but curled wide.
Goalscorer Wilkinson fired straight at the ‘keeper before the half hour mark after being found by Craig Clay but otherwise the action remained at the other end as the Robins cranked up the pressure.
Ten minutes before the break, Alfie May nearly turned provider when he slipped in the advancing Broom, but Vigouroux slid out to gather. The former Doncaster man then cut in from the left on 39 minutes and took aim for the far corner but his effort went just wide, although Vigouroux looked to have it covered.
The conditions continued to deteriorate as the game progressed and with the wind and rain coming straight at them in the second half, it was clear it would be a backs-to-the-wall job for the O’s after the break.
Michael Duff’s men came out with renewed purpose after half-time but aside from a fierce drive from distance by sub Chris Clements that Vigouroux secured at the second attempt, the O’s looked relatively comfortable with their defending.
Ross Embleton made a double-sub on the hour with Joe Widdowson returning to first team action and Jordan Maguire-Drew also coming on for Lee Angol and James Dayton respectively.
If the conditions weren’t tricky enough then Cheltenham also had the long-throws of Ben Tozer to call upon, giving the visitors something else to think about in the final 20 minutes as they won a successive of throws deep into Orient territory. However despite pushing men forward and looking to create problems, the O’s stood firm and repelled whatever came at them.
With 15 minutes remaining May dragged a shot wide in a rare clear opportunity, with George Marsh then preventing sub Tom Nicols from latching onto a dangerous ball from Broom by heading behind superbly.
Will Boyle fired over from the edge of the area and despite it being a clear case of attack v defence in the second half, it looked like Orient were going to escape with a good point. However three minutes from time, Ryan Broom crossed from the right and there was sub Reuben Reid to head in at the near post to secure his second match-winning goal in two games.
Three minutes of time added on came and went, condemning the O’s to a disappointing defeat on the road. Next up is the visit of Oldham Athletic to The Breyer Group Stadium next Saturday 22 February (3pm). Tickets for this game can be purchased at www.onlyoneorient.com.
Cheltenham Town: Evans, Long (Clements 64), Hussey, Tozer, Raglan, Broom, Sheaf (Nicols 73), Boyle, Doyle-Hayes, May, Varney (Reid 73)
Subs not used: Lovett, Ince, Debayo, Greaves
Bookings: Broom, Reid
Leyton Orient: Vigouroux, Marsh, Coulson, Happe, Brophy, Cisse, Clay, Dayton (Maguire-Drew 59), Angol (Widdowson 59), Johnson, Wilkinson (Wright 81)
Subs not used: Sargeant, Kyprianou, Judd, Sweeney
Attendance: 3,527 (439 away)