Ollie Palmer came back to haunt his former side as his header early in the second half handed Leyton Orient a 1-0 victory over Mansfield Town.The striker scored the only goal of the with a close range header on the 49th minute, as Orient signed off their home campaign with a victory on an afternoon which saw youngsters Aron Pollock, Sandro Semedo and Josh Koroma all make their home debuts.
Having seen any chances of making the Play-Offs brought to an end in their defeat at AFC Wimbledon last weekend, Leyton Orient made four changes for the visit of Mansfield Town.
Second-year scholar Aron Pollock was handed his professional debut, in place of injured captain Mathieu Baudry, while winger Sandro Semedo made his full debut having come on as a late substitute at Kingsmeadow last Saturday.
The O’s were also boosted by the return of Jay Simpson and Nigel Atangana, though defender Nicky Hunt missed out through illness.
As a result of Mathieu Baudry’s absence midfielder Lloyd James captained the side for the final home game of the season, and following an encouraging start the hosts almost took the lead when Blair Turgott saw his shot parried by Scott Shearer after closing down Ryan Tafazolli’s clearance.
With the 10 minute mark approaching Sandro Semedo delivered a brilliant ball towards the far post which was headed down by Ollie Palmer, though Jay Simpson was unable to beat Shearer to the loose ball.
Palmer was coming up his former side having joined Orient from the Stags last summer, and had a wonderful chance to break the deadlock when he muscled off Tafazolli to reach Nigel Atangana’s through ball into the box. The forward then rounded Shearer but with the angle tight took too many touches which ultimately allowed the Mansfield goalkeeper to recover and claim the ball.
Mansfield had rarely threatened throughout the opening exchanges, but with 21 minutes gone should really have taken the lead when Emmanuel Dieseruvwe managed to get in between Peter Ramage and Alex Cisak but could only direct his header wide of the far post.
With neither side having anything to play for the match was far from scintillating, and with just under 15 minutes of the half to play a brilliant long ball forward by Semedo was met by Simpson who tried his luck from distance but could only fire wide.
Soon after Mansfield’s Adam Chapman looked to catch out Cisak with a free-kick towards the near post, but the O’s number one got down well to his right to parry the effort before smothering the ball at the feet of Tafazolli for what was to prove the final chance of the half.
Following the interval Orient made one change ahead of the second half as Sammy Moore replaced Atangana, and within a minute of the restart the O’s were denied by the woodwork when Palmer controlled well in the box before seeing a low strike come back off the post.
Three minutes later the forward was not to be denied however as he opened the scoring with a close range header from a James free-kick to put the O’s ahead and claim his eighth goal of the season.
In response to falling behind Mansfield then suffered the fate of being denied by the frame of the goal on the 57th minute when Reggie Lambe’s effort struck the crossbar following a corner.
Moments later Palmer went in search of his second goal of the afternoon, producing a neat turn to leave two Stags defenders in his wake before powering a shot wide.
With 72 minutes played the O’s then made their final change of the afternoon and handed Josh Koroma his home debut, with the first-year scholar coming on for Semedo who had impressed throughout the afternoon along with Aron Pollock and justifiably received a warm round of applause for his efforts.
Keen to increase the hosts advantage, James almost added a second when his free-kick from 20-yards had Shearer at full-stretch before curling the wrong side of the post.
As full time approached Mansfield were finding it difficult to trouble Cisak and the O's goal, with the defensive pairing of Shaun Brisley and debutant Pollock continuously thwarting their efforts.
Orient were then able to see out five minutes stoppage time comfortably to end their home campaign with three points and move up to 9th in League Two ahead of their final fixture at Yeovil next weekend.
ORIENT: Cisak, Clohessy, Pollock, Brisley, Ramage (Binnom-Williams 58), Turgott, James (C), Atangana (Moore HT), Semedo (Koroma 72), Palmer, Simpson
SUBS: Sargeant, Payne, Kashket, Gnanduillet
GOALS: Palmer (49)
BOOKED: James (78)
MANSFIELD: Shearer, Collins (C), Pearce, Tafazolli, Benning, Chapman, Rose (Baxendale 71), Blair, Lambe (Yussuff 76), Dieseruvwe (Clements 58), Green
SUBS: Jensen, McGuire, Shires, Law
BOOKED: Baxendale (90+5)
REFEREE: Gavin Ward
ATTENDANCE: 4,257 (350)