O's fightback after going behind to keep up stunning start to the season
Goals from Moses Odubajo and Kevin Lisbie saw Orient come from behind to see off MK Dons 2-1 at the Matchroom Stadium on Saturday.
The well-deserved victory maintained the O’s position at the top of League One and stretches their unbeaten run this season to 11 games.
That record looked as though it could be under threat when the visitors took a first half lead through striker Patrick Bamford but Man of the Match Moses Odubajo equalised with an accurate left-footed shot before the break.
A brilliant one-two between forwards Lisbie and David Mooney saw the former prod home the winner on 66 minutes.
Having made several changes for the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy tie with Coventry City in midweek, Russell Slade named an unchanged starting XI from last Saturday’s draw with Oldham Athletic.
That meant Lisbie returned to the team after it was feared he may miss the game because of a dead leg he picked up against Oldham.
At 6,359, it was the biggest crowd seen at the Matchroom Stadium so far this season which generated a cracking atmosphere, and the O’s began at a tempo that reflected the crowd’s energy.
They were getting plenty of joy down both flanks early on, with wingers Odubajo and Dean Cox linking up superbly with Lisbie and Mooney.
Despite this, the home side did not manage to create any goalscoring opportunities in the opening 25 minutes, allowing MK Dons to grow in confidence.
The visitors began to play some good football, with Luke Chadwick at the heart of things, finding plenty of space in between the O’s defence and midfield.
And it was the ex-Manchester United player who supplied front-man Bamford with a well-timed pass on the break, allowing his team mate to drive at the core of the O’s backline before firing an unstoppable left-footed drive into the bottom left corner.
The goal came right on the half-hour mark and was the first shot either team had managed to hit the target with all game.
It certainly sparked the O’s into life, with Odubajo and Mooney sending efforts narrowly wide of either post soon after the away side had taken the lead.
And, four minutes from half-time, Odubajo found the back of the net with a crisp finish into the far left corner with his weaker foot.
The winger applied the perfect finish to a sublime move which saw Mooney send in a low cross for Lisbie, whose first touch was excellent, allowing him to calmly lay the ball into the path of Odubajo on the edge of the box.
Orient piled the pressure onto MK Dons after equalising, eager to grab another before the break, and they came agonisingly close to doing so on two occasions.
First Mooney threaded a pass through to Cox who was denied by McLoughlin in the MK goal and then Mooney himself hit a shot just wide of the post.
It was an equally frantic start to the second period with both sides looking to make an early breakthrough.
The movement from MK Dons’ front four was continuing to cause problems for Orient when they broke forward but it was the hosts who managed to put their opponent’s under pressure for the most sustained period, resulting in a number of openings.
This spell saw a Cox shot deflected inches wide after a well-worked free-kick, and skipper Nathan Clarke head narrowly over the bar from a corner.
The O’s were really stepping it up a gear by this stage and the volume of the crowd was increasing with each attack.
But no one could have envisaged the almost telepathic link-up play between Lisbie and Mooney which led to the winning goal on 66 minutes.
After a free-kick from the right touchline found its way to Lisbie, the forward flicked the ball on to Mooney with the outside of his boot and his strike partner took the ball in his stride before playing a delightful return pass straight into the path of Lisbie.
Under pressure from an MK defender and the onrushing McLoughlin, Orient’s experienced striker remained cool and composed enough to slot a brilliant finish into the far right corner, taking him on to nine goals for the season.
The game began to open up after the O’s went in front, demonstrated when a superb block from Jamie Jones to deny MK substitute Izale McLeod sparked a blistering counter attack from the home side and almost saw Romain Vincelot score at the other end.
Visiting manager Karl Robinson seemed to have made a smart move by introducing McLeod to the game, and the forward came even closer to netting an equaliser on 78 minutes, smashing a thunderous half-volley against Jones’s crossbar.
MK Dons tried their best to force the home side back as the game entered the closing stages but Russell Slade’s men rallied brilliantly to allow the opposition no further sight of goal and secure all three points to ensure they remained top of the league.
ORIENT: Jones, Omozusi, Clarke, Baudry, Cuthbert, Cox, James, Vincelot, Odubajo, Mooney, Lisbie (Batt, 73).
Subs not used: Larkins, Sawyer, Lee, Lasimant, Bartley, Stockley
Goals: Odubajo (41), Lisbie (66)
Bookings: Cuthbert (46)
MK DONS: McLoughlin, Ostemobor (Smith, 82), Flanagan, Williams, Lewington (C), Potter, Gleeson, Powell, Chadwick (McLeod, 69), Carruthers (Baldock, 62), Bamford.
Subs not used: Mcleod, Rasulo, Reeves, Banton, Burns
Goals: Bamford (30)
Attendance: 6,359 (569 away)
Referee: Iain Williamson