After naming a much-changed team in the Papa John’s Trophy midweek, Ross Embleton made just one alteration to the side that lost out last time in the league to Scunthorpe for this one. Craig Clay, who made his first start on his return from injury on Tuesday, the man to come into the starting eleven in place of Louis Dennis.
The visitors headed into this one in good form having not lost in the league since early November. The O’s certainly couldn’t be accused of being in awe of their opposition however, as they made a bright start in E10.
Embleton’s side soaked up Newport’s pressure well and looked dangerous on the counter. They could have taken an early lead in the 8th minute when Clay stole the ball and broke forward with it. The midfielder eventually laid it off to James Brophy down the left, but the former Swindon man’s effort flashed past Nick Townsend’s near post.
Despite a positive start, Orient fell behind in the 20th minute. Jamie Proctor found space on the edge of the O’s box and placed one into the bottom corner to give the Exiles an early advantage.
As the half worn, the away side began to assert their dominance and create a couple of openings, the best of which saw Liam Shephard drag one into the side netting after his side had pressed well to win the ball back off of the O’s defence high up the pitch.
After becoming slightly overrun during the closing stages of the first half, Orient started the second period with much more attacking emphasis and could have levelled in the 52nd minute. Brophy drove down the left wing and stood a ball up for Josh Coulson in the box, however the centre back’s headed effort ended up being comfortable for Townsend.
Ten minutes later, Orient’s positive start following the interval was rewarded. A bouncing ball into the box was nodded on by Jobi McAnuff into the path of Danny Johnson and the forward lashed home his 14th of the season to draw the O’s level.
And things got even better for the home side moments later. Once again Orient pounced on a loose ball in the area and once again it resulted in a goal as Brophy outmuscled his marker and slotted one into the far corner on the half volley, much to the delight of the 1734 fans in attendance.
Newport had the ball in the back of the net five minutes later when Tristan Abrahams tapped in from close range, but the former Orient man’s celebrations were cut short as the referee blew for an infringement.
Embleton’s side clearly weren’t content with their lead and continued to attack in search of a third goal. They almost found it ten minutes from time when McAnuff’s cutback found Clay on the edge, however the former Motherwell man pulled his shot just wide of the far post.
A first change for the O’s came soon after with Conor Wilkinson replaced by Lee Angol.
A second change followed in added time as Ruel Sotiriou came on for Brophy.
Orient dealt with the seven minutes of stoppage time added by the referee in superb fashion and could have even added another were it not for a good double stop by Townsend from first Johnson and then Angol. It proved not to matter in the end though as the O’s held on for an impressive victory.
ORIENT: Vigouroux, Ling, Coulson, Happe, Widdowson, Cissé, McAnuff, Clay, Wilkinson (Angol 84’), Johnson, Brophy (Sotiriou 90’)
SUBS: Sargeant, Dayton, Akinola, Kyprianou
BOOKED: Widdowson, Angol
GOALS: Johnson 62’, Brophy 70’
NEWPORT: Townsend, Cooper, Dolan, Amond (Abrahams 68’), Sheehan, Bennett (Labadie 67’), Proctor, Twine (Devitt 77’), Lewis (Ellison 77’), Demetriou, Shephard (Willmott 77’)
SUBS: King, Longe King
BOOKED: Shepherd, Twine, Bennett, Lewis, Abrahams
GOALS: Proctor 20’
REF: Tom Nield