Ross Embleton made two changes to his starting XI, bringing in Jamie Turley and goal-scorer Josh Wright into the fold, in place of Josh Coulson and Jobi McAnuff. Elsewhere, young Cypriot forward Ruel Sotiriou made the bench having recovered from a minor head injury.
Former O Scott Wagstaff was the first man to record a shot on target at The Innocent New Lawn, but his bending effort was swallowed by Lawrence Vigouroux.
Orient threatened ten minutes into the fixture through the rapid James Brophy. The O’s number 16 picked up the ball in his own half and carried the ball right to the Forest Green box, but McGee smother the ball at his feet and cleared the danger. Having carried the ball so far, the wide man looked to be stuck in two minds, deciding whether to shoot or pull the ball to Conor Wilkinson.
Shortly after, Orient’s Chilean goalkeeper Vigouroux made an impressive save from point blank to deny Jamille Matt. The latter latched onto Odin Bailey’s driven cross and poked the ball towards goal, but Vigouroux stood tall and made an important stop.
The opening quarter of the match seemed to perfectly mirror the opening of the game between these two sides earlier in the season – with Forest Green applying pressure early and looking to get on the front foot at every given opportunity.
Jamie Turley was the first player to be marked in Andy Woolmer’s book and Rovers took the lead from the resulting free-kick. Wagstaff’s delivery from deep took an unkind deflection and fell kindly for Baily, who rifled the ball home from ten-yards.
Ross Embleton’s men looked to respond immediately; Brophy’s dart down the left channel caused the team in green a lot of problems and he did well to find Wright in space – but the midfielder could only guide his right-footed strike over the bar, when in truth, McGee should have been troubled.
However, the same duo would be far more ruthless the second time of asking. Brophy’s pace calved open Mark Cooper’s defence once again and he perfectly set Wright up to fire the O’s level, five minutes before the break.
Leyton Orient would have loved to replicate the start to the second-half they made on their last trip to Gloucestershire, but Forest Green were far more prepared and carried more of a threat following the break.
Cooper’s team were switching the ball from side to side, looking to bring their full-backs into the game, and regain their lead.
Orient looked to steal an advantage on the counter and might well have done so if it wasn’t for a vital last-ditch block. Wilkinson cut in and out of a couple of opponents and looked to get the shot away, but a wall of green crowded him out.
The same man later whipped a teasing free-kick into the six-yard box, but McGee did very well to punch clear ahead of Jamie Turley, who was looking to nod his team ahead.
It seemed certain that one team would pinch all three points, with both looking to attack when in possession.
Ross Embleton made his first change 20 minutes from the end; introducing Ruel Sotiriou from the bench in place of Danny Johnson. The youngster injected some much-needed energy into the O’s attack.
The O’s felt they should have been awarded a penalty moments after the substitution. Forest Green failed to clear a dangerous ball into the area and the ball bundled to the feet of Wilkinson, who took a touch before being brought to the floor by a crowd of red and green. The referee waved the appeals away and the game continued.
Rovers really turned up the tempo as time ticked away and were inches away from scoring through substitute Mathew Stevens, who slid and fired the ball goal bound, and with Vigouroux beaten – it was the crossbar that denied the hosts.
The ex-Barnet would bundle the ball home at the next opportunity. A Forest Green corner was flicked on at the front post to Stevens, who couldn’t miss, virtually on the goal line.
Embleton looked to respond to falling behind and made a double substitution in the hope of finding an equaliser. Club Captain Jobi McAnuff and Louis Dennis came on with roughly ten minutes to change the course of the game but couldn’t help their team find that important second goal. The game finished 2-1 to Mark Cooper’s team.
FGR: McGee, Wilson (Sweeney 90’), Kitching, Winchester (C), Adams, Collins (Young 70’), Matt, Moore-Taylor, Bailey, Wagstaff (Stevens 46’), Godwin-Malife
SUBS: Thomas, Whitehouse, Bunker, March
GOALS: Bailey 29’ Stevens 82’
ORIENT: Vigouroux, Akinola, Turley, Happe, Widdowson, Cissè (C), Clay, Wright (McAnuff 83’), Wilkinson (Dennis 83’), Johnson (Sotiriou 71’), Brophy
SUBS: Sargeant, Coulson, Maguire-Drew, Dayton
GOALS: Wright 40’
BOOKED: Turley 27’
REF: Andy Woolmer