McAnuff made four changes from the draw against Scunthorpe last weekend. The former Jamaican international selected himself for the first time since taking charge last month, after Nick Freeman picked up a knock in training.
James Brophy missed out on this one through suspension, meaning Joe Widdowson was handed a start at left back. While the other two alterations saw the ineligible Tristan Abrahams drop out for Danny Johnson and Tunji Akinola come in for Sam Ling.
Orient started the game showing a good level of intent, with the majority of the first ten minutes played in the home side’s half of the pitch.
This was exemplified in the 8th minute when Ouss Cissé sprayed a pinpoint cross field pass into the feet of Wilkinson. The former Gillingham man then cut in and got a shot off but saw his effort ricochet behind off of an Exiles body.
Newport’s first strike on goal came ten minutes later. Nicky Maynard capitalised on a sloppy clearance from the O’s backline and forced Lawrence Vigouroux into a smart stop at his near post.
The home side continued to grow into the game following Maynard’s effort, and they struck the woodwork moments later as Matt Dolan’s free kick was headed onto the post by Joss Labadie.
The last chance of an attritional half fell to full back Aaron Lewis, who, after he beat his man, flashed a cross/shot wide of Vigouroux’s far post.
McAnuff made a half time switch that saw Hector Kyprianou replace Cissé, after the French midfielder picked up a booking midway through the first half.
Wilkinson had the O’s first shot of the first half, and he repeated the feat in the second period. The forward controlled Dan Happe’s searching ball well and got a shot off that proved too hot to handle for Nick Townsend, although with Johnson following in, the ‘keeper managed to claim it at the second attempt.
And it was to be Wilkinson who broke the deadlock just after the hour mark. Dan Kemp delivered a teasing ball across the face that narrowly evaded Johnson at the near post, however Wilkinson was on hand to prod in at the far post. Celebrations were almost cut short by a late flag from the linesman, though much to Orient’s delight he was overruled by the referee who allowed the goal.
Kemp and Wilkinson combined again ten minutes later. The former West Ham man put a deep free kick into the box, where the goal scorer was waiting. However, he was unable to double his tally, as he skewed a header behind.
The O’s continued to attack following the goal and got into a dangerous area when McAnuff broke away with the ball. He then released Johnson down the left who dragged a shot wide of Townsend’s far post.
McAnuff’s side came a whisker away with seven minutes to play. Kemp did brilliantly to cut inside and curl one towards goal, his effort looked destined to nestle into the far corner only for it to narrowly fall just the wrong side of the post.
To Orient’s credit, it took the home side until the 89th minute to create their first opportunity since going behind. Mickey Demetriou met his side’s corner well, but his header was always going over and proved no trouble for Vigouroux in the visitor’s goal.
That proved to be the last chance of the game, as the O’s held on for a league double over the playoff chasing Exiles.
ORIENT: Vigouroux, Akinola, Turley, Happe, Widdowson, Cissé (Kyprianou 46”), Clay, McAnuff, Wilkinson, Johnson, Kemp
SUBS: Sargeant, Ling, Coulson, Dayton, Dennis, Sweeney
BOOKED: Kemp, Cissé, McAnuff, Wilkinson
GOALS: Wilkinson 61”
NEWPORT: Townsend, Lewis (Telford 66”), Demetriou, Dolan (Ledley 56”), Farquharson, Shephard, Bennett (Ellison 66”), Sheehan, Labadie, Scrimshaw (Taylor 57”), Maynard (Gambin 67”)
SUBS: King, Amond
BOOKED: Labadie, Ledley
REF: Samuel Barrott