Goals from Tyler Cordner and Matt Rush either side of Louis Dennis’ equaliser secured Phil Brown’s side a lifeline in their battle for EFL survival.
Jobi McAnuff made two changes from the mid-week defeat against Cambridge United. Sam Ling and Nick Freeman the players brought into the starting line-up in place of Jamie Turley and Ouss Cissé, while ‘keeper Lawrence Vigouroux was handed the captain’s armband.
Coming into this one the Shrimpers knew only three points in this one would preserve their Football League status, and they made a bright start at Roots Hall as Timothee Dieng glanced Ricky Holmes’ cross wide in the 4th minute.
Following that early chance, the game settled into something of a lull, which hardly came as a surprise given the fact that four of Southend’s last six home games have ended goalless.
Orient had to wait until midway through the first half for their first effort on goal. Hector Kyprianou made clean contact with Dan Kemp’s free kick but failed to keep his header on target.
McAnuff’s side should have taken the lead just after the half hour mark. Danny Johnson latched onto Conor Wilkinson’s flick on and, with Mark Oxley charging out at him, could only lift the ball over the bar.
The O’s came even closer five minutes later. A short corner eventually landed at Kemp’s feet on the edge, the former West Ham man then stood one up at the back post where Sam Ling was waiting, but the full back skewed his effort off of the woodwork.
Five minutes before the interval Phil Brown’s side took the lead, as Tyler Cordner headed home Holmes’ corner.
Kyprianou picked up a head injury in the melee of the goal and was subsequently replaced by Cissé.
On the stroke of half time, Orient fired back. A deep free kick into the box was well challenged by the substitute Cissé, the ball then fell to Louis Dennis who struck one hard and low past Oxley to restore parity.
McAnuff elected to make a second change at the break as he brought on Clay for Freeman in the heart of midfield.
Nathan Ferguson whipped a free kick narrowly wide for the visitors in what was the first shot on goal following the interval.
The O’s took a while to settle into what was a cagey beginning to the second period, but they almost sparked into life in the 64th minute when a wonderful through ball from Kemp found Wilkinson. The forward cut one across towards Johnson, however the ball was just behind Orient’s leading marksman and he failed to make a good connection on it.
Despite that move , the away side had struggled to impose their authority throughout the second half and it was no surprise to see McAnuff decide to make a double substitution with just over twenty minutes to play.
The former Jamaican international brought himself on in place of the goal scorer Dennis, while the other switch saw Ruel Sotiriou replace Johnson up top.
The change didn’t have the desired effect however, as it was the home side who pushed forward and almost regained the lead. First, Vigouroux was forced into a smart stop from Greg Halford’s header. Then, from the following set piece, only a goal line clearance from Cissé denied the Shrimpers a second.
Southend did find their goal moments later. Dan Happe was unable to keep out Matt Rush’s effort, after the forward had shrugged off Tunji Akinola and slotted one beyond Vigouroux.
Orient pushed bodies forward to get back into it, and they had a decent chance when the ball fell to Cissé on the edge, but the midfielder’s strike was always rising.
The O’s made a fifth and final sub in the closing stages with Tristan Abrahams replacing Akinola.
Both sides traded chances back and forth in the closing stages. Louis Walsh was denied by a comfortable save from Vigouroux, before Oxley turned Wilkinson’s effort behind at the other end.
Those proved to be the final moments of note, as Orient succumbed to defeat on the seaside.
ORIENT: Vigouroux, Ling, Akinola (Abrahams 85’), Happe, Brophy, Kyprianou (Cissé 44’), Freeman (Clay 46’), Wilkinson, Kemp, Dennis (McAnuff 68’), Johnson (Sotiriou 68’)
SUBS: Sargeant, Turley
GOALS: Dennis 45’
SOUTHEND: Oxley, Bwomono, Cordner, Dieng (Halford 26’), Egbri, Hackett-Fairchild (Walsh 69’), Taylor, Holmes (Rush 52’), Hart, Ferguson (Hobson 69’), White
SUBS: Seaden, Olayinka, Harry Kyprianou
BOOKED: Walsh, Cordner
GOALS: Cordner 42’, Rush 76’
REF: Trevor Kettle