Orient Grind It OutOrient triumphed once more at the Matchroom Stadium as a greater cutting edge proved the difference between themselves and a struggling Bury.
In a rather scrappy affair in which both sides were guilty of missing chances, the O’s continued their play-off push thanks to two first-half strikes from Jimmy Smith and David Mooney.
Russell Slade rung the changes after the O’s disappointing defeat at Scunthorpe in Good Friday with Gary Sawyer, Mathieu Baudry, Smith, Cook and MacDonald coming into the starting eleven.
Surprisingly it was the visitors who made the faster start and within a minute could have been ahead when Tom Soares saw two close range efforts blocked by Gary Sawyer and then Nathan Clarke.
Less than 60 seconds later an even better opportunity was spurned when sloppy passing from Baudry resulted in Nicky Ajose screwing the ball wide with the whole goal at his mercy.
The Shakers would come to regret those misses as on nine minutes the O’s took the lead. After a succession of corners, the ball eventually fell to Jimmy Smith who swivelled well and lashed the ball home.
The visitors could have been level soon after when a deflected Soares cross fell perfectly onto the head of Andy Bishop but with only Jones to beat, he could only head over.
From then on the O’s seemed to settle down and could have added to their lead just after the half hour when Smith’s goal-bound effort was blocked by a Shakers‘ defender out for a corner.
That corner proved to be Bury’s undoing as Orient doubled their advantage. The visitors failed to clear their lines and when substitute Elliot Omozusi lobbed the ball back into penalty box, Smith beat the onrushing Cameron Belford to the ball and nodded into the path of David Mooney for a tap-in.
The hosts were causing all sorts of problems on set pieces and on the stroke of half time could have made it three when a long-throw eventually found it’s way to Smith but the midfield man could not beat Belford from close range.
Despite their two goal lead at the break, the feeling was that the O’s had still not quite been at their best, a thought perhaps reflected in Russell Slade’s decision to swap Lee Cook for Shaun Batt at the interval.
In a slow start to the second period, again it was Bury who threatened first when a Soares free-kick was met by an Ashley Eastham header that looped wide with Jones beaten.
Back came the O’s who went close with a header of their own when Mooney met Cox’s in-swinging delivery.
At the back the visitors may have been shaky all afternoon but they certainly carried a threat up front and Jones had to be sharp to deny Bishop’s downward header from an Ebanks-Landell cross.
With a two goal lead, Orient seemed content to let Bury come onto them in the last third of the match and it almost proved costly as the Shakers spurned another glaring opportunity.
The O’s struggled to deal with a corner and from a Bishop nod-down, Stephen Schumacher volleyed over from inside the six-yard box. The Shakers‘ skipper would later fire a similar effort, albeit from further out, wide of Jones‘ post.
It was certainly a testing 90 minutes for the hosts, who stood up well to Bury’s physical challenge, though Omozuzi, having replaced the injured Mathieu Baudry earlier, was eventually forced off himself with a nasty looking shoulder injury that will require an x-ray.
With five to play, the O’s thought they had made the game safe when Mooney ran clear and effortlessly curled the ball past Belford. However, his shot was somehow cleared off the line by a backtracking Worrall.
Then with the clock ticking into the stoppage time, MacDonald attempted to turn in a Batt cross via a cheeky back-heel but found the keeper equal to it.
Bury were not finished yet and Jones was forced into two smart saves within a matter of minutes from Shakers substitute Clarke-Harris.
ORIENT: Jones; Odubajo, Baudry (Omozusi 12, McSweeney 74), Clarke, Sawyer; Cox, Smith, James, Cook (Batt 46); Mooney, MacDonald
SUBS: Vincelot, Lisbie, Grainger, Rowlands
GOALS: Smith 9, Mooney 34
BURY: Belford; Worrall, Eastham, Sodje (Mezague 63), Ebanks-Landell; Schumacher, Carrington, Soares, Ajose (Clarke-Harris 67); Fagan, Bishop
SUBS: Carson, Healy, Thompson
BOOKINGS: Worrall 36, Fagan 87
REFEREE: Andy Woolmer
ATTENDANCE: 3,713 (152)