Leyton Orient recorded back-to-back victories for the first time since August as Jay Simpson’s penalty five minutes from time gave them a 1-0 win at home to Newport County.A tight first half saw the sides go into the break goalless, and it looked to be ending all square despite Kevin Nolan coming on to make his Orient debut before Simpson stroked home from the penalty spot on the 85th minute after Jobi McAnuff had been brought down.
On the back of Saturday’s 2-0 victory at Wycombe Wanderers, player-manager Kevin Nolan named an unchanged side ahead of his home game in charge. There was one change on the substitute bench however as second-year scholar Aron Pollock replaced Cole Kpekawa.
A tight opening 10 minutes saw both sides get to grips with the windy conditions, and Calaum Jahraldo-Martin had the first change of the evening when a free-kick into the Newport box dropped to him on the edge of the penalty area but the winger’s shot was blocked away.
Jahraldo-Martin was looking a real threat down the right but it was top scorer Jay Simpson who was the next to have an effort when his 25-yard free-kick was deflected behind for a corner.
With 28 minutes played Simpson then forced Exiles goalkeeper Mitchell Beeney into his first save of the night, as he burst forward and ignored options either side before seeing a low shot parried away.
Despite creating the better chances Orient were struggling to really trouble the visiting defence, though with only three minutes of the half remaining Jahraldo-Martin curled a shot a whisker over the bar having been picked out unmarked by Ollie Palmer.
With the half time looming however Newport could well have snatched the lead when the ball dropped kindly for Conor Wilkinson who was then left in disbelief as O’s goalkeeper Alex Cisak pulled off a simply wonderful reaction save to tip the shot over the bar.
Following the break both sides came out for the second half unchanged, and it was to be very similar to the opening 45 minutes as they continued to cancel each other out.
Recent signing Armand Gnanduillet was then introduced with just over 20 minutes remaining as he came on for Palmer, and having been on the pitch for less than a minute nearly registered his first goal for the Club when played through by Jahraldo-Martin, but the 24-year-old could only drag his shot across goal.
In response to the chance Wilkinson went straight up the other end for Newport, curling an effort over from outside the penalty area.
As the final 10 minutes approached the fans then got what they wanted as Kevin Nolan came on for his Orient debut, replacing Jahraldo-Martin to take up a position just behind Gnanduillet as Simpson moved out to the right.
Whatever instructions he had given himself before coming on certainly had an effect with five minutes to go, as his cross led to the awarding of a penalty after Jobi McAnuff had been pushed by Andrew Hughes.
Despite picking up the ball, Nolan swiftly handed it to usual penalty taker Simpson. The O’s top scorer then confidently broke the deadlock as despatched his 22nd goal of the season by sending Beeley the wrong way.
The spot kick was to be enough to settle the game by the finest of margins and propel Orient back into the Play-Off places as they moved up to 6th in League Two.
ORIENT: Cisak, Clohessy, Baudry (C), Essam, Shaw, Jahraldo-Martin (Nolan 79), Atangana, Payne, McAnuff, Simpson (Pritchard 90), Palmer (Gnanduillet 68)
SUBS: Grainger, Pollock, Turgott, Kashket
GOALS: Simpson (85 pen)
BOOKINGS: Clohessy (40), Jahraldo-Martin (65), Cisak (90+4)
NEWPORT: Beeney, Holmes, Jones, Hughes, Davies, Byrne (C), Rodman, Klukowski (Ayina 54), Elito, Smalley, Wilkinson (Boden 78)
SUBS: Green, Barrow, Taylor, Owen-Evans, Dymond
BOOKINGS: Klukowski (19), Byrne (58), Elito (85)
REFEREE: Andy Davies
ATTENDANCE: 4,209 (154)