O's return to automatic promotion places with victory at Greenhous Meadow
ORIENT returned to the top two in League 1 thanks to goals from Moses Odubajo and an own goal by former O's defender Tamika Mkandawire to complete a double over Shrewsbury in League 1 this season.
The O's controlled long periods with Odubajo opening the scoring with a wonderful finish in the first half before Mkandawire unintentionally sealed things when he nodded in Dean Cox's corner late on under pressure from Scott Cuthbert.
There were two debutants for the O’s as goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic signed from Hull at lunchtime went straight into the side, as did Jamar Loza who also joined on loan from Norwich City and partnered Kevin Lisbie up front. Meanwhile Marvin Bartley returned in the heart of midfield as Gary Sawyer, Jamie Ness and Jake Larkins dropped to the bench.
Orient looked sharp going forwards in the early exchanges as they looked to shift the ball quickly with plenty of one touch play but it was the home side who had the first big chance on nine minutes when Aaron Wildig somehow missed the target after Tom Eaves, ever a handful, slipped him in.
It was a let off for the O’s who looked to utilise the pace and trickery of Moses Odubajo whenever possible yet they lacked that touch of quality in the final third as chances were of a premium. Eaves meanwhile was the outlet for Shrewsbury as Wildig behind him and the dynamic Jon Taylor looked to feed off of the big forward.
It was the O’s that grabbed the lead though just before the half hour mark. Odubajo will take the plaudits for a wonderful finish but credit must go to Dean Cox who toiled away on the left wing to win possession. Suddenly Lisbie and Loza found the same wavelength before the latter slipped in Odubajo who ran onto his pass, rounded the keeper and slotted home from the tightest of angles.
The goal spurred Orient on as they dominated in the aftermath of the Odubajo goal with Mathieu Baudry going close from a James corner two minutes later. Whilst the home side were restricted to set-plays as their only real method of entering the Orient final third.
For their dominance, Russell Slade would have perhaps been disappointed that Shrews goalkeeper Chris Weale was not tested more as the O’s headed in for the interval with the lead.
The second half began in the same manner that the first finished with Orient on top and Odubajo causing havoc on the right as he swung in a number of dangerous crosses with Cox collecting one of them and bringing the best out of Weale.
It was the home side though that had another golden opening 54 minutes gone when Eaves battled with Clarke to get on the end of a long, looping pass and got the better of the O’s skipper but with just Jakupovic to beat, the big forward dragged a shot wide.
The chance gave the home side life but it was Orient who were almost out of sight five minutes later. Elliot Omozusi found Cox with a terrific pass and the winger stood the ball up for Odubajo to volley goalwards but Weale parried and Lasimant latched on to the rebound but his shot was charged down.
Orient were shaken and their ball retention dipped as the Shrews upped it a gear though there remained plenty of space for the O’s to counter into when they did hold on to it and on 73 minutes Odubajo galloped into space and unleased a curling left footed shot that Tamika Mkandawire did well to block as it looked set to rattle into the top corner.
It was nervy at times but any doubts about the result were eased three minutes from time when Cox whipped a corner in from the left and whilst it first appeared that Cuthbert had nodded home, replays showed it was the Shrews defender Mkandawire who netted past his own goalkeeper.
There was still time for substitute Robbie Simpson to go close after good work from Lisbie but it finished 2-0 as Orient cashed in on their game in hand to leapfrog Wolves into second.
ORIENT: Jakupovic, Omozusi, Clarke, Baudry, Cuthbert, Cox, Bartley (Ness 89), James, Odubajo (Simpson 84), Loza (Lasimant 57), Lisbie
SUBS: Larkins, Gorman, Sawyer, Ness, Coulthirst,
GOALS: Odubajo (28) Mkandawire OG (87)
BOOKINGS: Lisbie (90) Lasimant (90)
SHREWS: Weale, Jacobson, Winfield, McAllister, Wroe (Bradshaw 45), Taylor. Wildig, Mkandawire (C), Parry (Hall 83), Woods (Grandison 76), Eaves
SUBS: Anyon, Jones, McQuade, Marsden
BOOKINGS: Winfield (71)
ATTENDANCE: 4,194 (144)