Interim Manager Jobi McAnuff made just the one change from the mid-week win against Grimsby in his first game in charge. Adam Thompson was replaced by Dan Happe early on in that one, and with Thompson side-lined by a fractured ankle, the 22-year-old retained his place in the side for the trip to Devon.
The Orient defence suffered an early scare just three minutes into the game. Some last-ditch defending was required from first Jamie Turley and then Tunji Akinola to deny Grecian forwards Ryan Bowman and Matt Jay.
However, the O’s defence didn’t heed that early warning and they were unable to prevent the home side taking the lead in the 11th minute. Joel Randall latched onto a ball over the top from Bowman and made no mistake in slotting the ball home to break the deadlock.
Matt Taylor’s side doubled their lead moments later when Lawrence Vigouroux misjudged Jay’s shot from range and spilled the effort into his own net.
After a poor start, Orient began to gain a foothold. Nick Freeman and James Brophy combined well down the left, the latter broke into the penalty area and fired a low ball across that was well cut out by the Exeter defence.
Despite some better spells of possession for the O’s, it was the home side who continued to look the most threatening. Randall laid the ball back to Jay, who unleashed a fierce strike that was well blocked by Akinola, the rebound then fell to Randall who was denied at the near post by Vigouroux.
The visitors extended their lead before half time. Randall’s effort struck the post and Jay was on hand to scramble home from close range.
Orient were left frustrated in their attempts to pull one back before half time. Dan Kemp’s corner fell to Craig Clay on the edge, but the skipper’s volley was well charged down by Alex Hartridge.
Following a poor first half showing, it was no surprise to see McAnuff make an alteration at half time. Conor Wilkinson the man selected to enter the fray in place of Joe Widdowson.
The change was to no avail however, as the home side netted a fourth from the spot. Jay coolly placed it into the bottom corner to complete his hat trick, after Randall was brought down by Akinola in the box.
McAnuff made a double substitution after the goal, as Kemp and Akinola were replaced by Tristan Abrahams and Sam Ling.
Wilkinson almost pulled one back for the O’s in the 63rd minute. The forward weaved in and out of his marker before hitting a strike with the inside of his boot that Jokull Andresson in the Grecians goal did well to block.
Andresson was again called upon minutes later, Wilkinson tested the Icelandic ‘keeper with a well struck free-kick, but Andresson was equal to the effort.
Randall came very close to adding another for the home side with just over ten to play. He found space down the left-hand side and struck one narrowly past the far post.
Wilkinson was a whisker away from netting a late consolation goal for the visitors but was again thwarted by Andresson.
Ling headed over from the resulting corner which proved to be the last chance of note as the O’s fell to a disappointing defeat in Devon.
ORIENT: Vigouroux, Akinola (Ling 55”), Turley, Happe, Widdowson (Wilkinson 46”), Cissé, Clay, Freeman, Kemp (Abrahams 55”), Johnson, Brophy
SUBS: Sargeant, Ling, Sweeney, Kyprianou, Dayton, Abrahams, Wilkinson
BOOKED: Widdowson, Turley, Akinola, Clay
EXETER: Andresson, McArdle, Taylor, Collins (Atangana 53”), Bowman (Seymour 80”), Randall (Dyer 83”), Willmott, Jay, Page (Sparkes 53”), Key (Caprice 83”), Hartridge
SUBS: Lee, Fisher
GOALS: Randall 11”, Jay 13”, 42”, 50”
REF: Charles Breakspear