Jake Gray’s second half brace condemned Leyton Orient to a 3-1 defeat at Hartlepool United.
A promising start saw Orient take the lead through midfielder Bradley Pritchard, but the sides were to go into the break level following Kudus Oyenuga’s 20th minute penalty.
The hosts were then to seal victory in the second half with two goals from midfielder Jake Gray who put the Pools ahead on the 71st minute before scoring a second five minutes from time.
Having claimed an emphatic 6-1 victory over Staines in the FA Cup last weekend, O’s Head Coach Ian Hendon made three changes to the starting XI at Victoria Park.
With goalkeeper Alex Cisak away on international duty with Australia Charlie Grainger was handed only his second League start, while Bradley Pritchard and John Marquis returned to the side.
The O’s also had a youthful substitutes bench consisting of only five players due to Dean Cox being ruled out for at least six months with a cruciate knee ligament injury, and Sammy Moore not travelling due to the birth of his daughter in the week.
With the match being aired live on Sky Sports Orient looked to get off to a bright start, and inside the opening minute full-back Sean Clohessy rifled a shot over the bar.
The visitors were enjoying the majority of possession throughout the opening minutes and soon after Pools goalkeeper Trevor Carson was forced into the first save of the match to deflect Mathieu Baudry’s effort behind following a scramble in the box.
Needing to make the most of their early dominance Orient then took the lead on the 13th minute through midfielder Bradley Pritchard.
An attack down the right saw the ball played inside to Lloyd James who attempted to scoop a pass with the outside of his boots towards Jay Simpson, and the ball eventually dropped to Pritchard ten-yards out to roll home his first League goal for the O’s.
Pritchard’s strike was no less than what the visitors deserved from their start but the lead was to only last for seven minutes, when Alan Dunne was penalised for handling a cross from the left and winger Kudus Oyenuga stepped up to send Charlie Grainger the wrong way.
After the equaliser the clash settled into a close affair and chances became limited for the O’s, though Pools stopper Carson was forced to parry away a fierce strike from John Marquis.
As half time neared Marquis then delivered a teasing ball towards the back post for Ollie Palmer who looked destined to put Orient back in front, until Matthew Bates brilliantly poked the ball away from the striker.
Bates interception ensured the sides went into the break all square and with 50 minutes played the defender was at it again, this time thwarting a Clohessy cross with a last ditch header before Palmer and Simpson failed to bundle the ball home.
Minutes later Hartlepool created a chance of their own from a corner when Scott Fenwick sent a header narrowly over.
Continuing to press forward Orient then should have taken the lead on the 63rd minute when Baudry was left unmarked six yards out, but despite making a firm connection with his header Carson reacted well to parry it away.
The O’s goal had rarely been troubled throughout the second half but with 19 minutes remaining Hartlepool edged in front when Jake Gray’s 20-yard effort deflected off Dunne to find the bottom corner.
As Orient went in search of an equaliser they were to be frustrated as the hosts remained organised defensively.
With five minutes remaining the Pools then extended their lead when Gray scored his second of the match with a low effort into the far corner after racing clear of the O’s defence.
Following the defeat Orient remain 7th in League Two and look to bounce back at home to York City next Saturday.
HARTLEPOOL: Carson, Duckworth (Harrison 77), Bates, Jackson, Carroll, Naismith, Magnay (C), Gray, Oyenuga (Oates 69), Mandron, Fenwick (Featherstone 83)
SUBS: Bartlett, Bingham, Woods, Jones
GOALS: Oyenuga (20 pen), Gray (71 & 85)
ORIENT: Grainger, Clohessy, Baudry (C), Dunne (Turgott 86), Shaw, Payne, Pritchard (Kashket 75), James, Marquis, Palmer, Simpson
SUBS: Sargeant, Moncur, Semedo
GOALS: Pritchard (13)
BOOKINGS: James (56)
REFEREE: Paul Teirney
ATTENDANCE: 3,785 (237 Orient fans)