It as an imperious performance which left the London club unable to come up with much of an answer to Scunthorpe’s dominance.
Goals from Liam O’Neil, Gary McSheffrey and two from Tom Hopper helped the side to a very impressive eighth away league game without defeat, with only a Darius Henderson penalty preventing Luke Daniels from a deserved clean sheet, on a grey but joyous day for the Iron faithful in the capital.
Manager Mark Robins made one change to the starting line-up that faced MK Dons on Tuesday, with Gary McSheffrey returning on the left wing in place of Jacob Murphy, who moves to the bench.
Midfielder George Evans, who signed on loan from Premier League Champions Manchester City on Friday, is named amongst the substitutes, coincidentally in place of Chelsea loanee Alex Davey, with the two sides’ parent clubs going head-to-head on Saturday evening.
United opted to switch ends after winning the toss and shoot in to the blustery wind, with the weather playing a major factor in today’s game.
The home side started the strongest, and it was almost a former Iron player who nearly broke the deadlock. Just three minutes in to the match, Chris Dagnall was played through on the right hand side, beating the offside trap, and bore down on goal. He let loose with a fierce low drive from a tight angle, with the Orient man striking the inside of Luke Daniels’ post, before deflecting off of the ‘keeper’s back leg and swerving back in to play.
An early let off for Robins’ men, as the Iron began to pressure the O’s back-line, without much luck in front of goal. It was in fact the London side who had the games’ second chance on the eight minute, as Andrew Boyce conceded a free-kick on the edge of the area, and Dean Cox’s resulting set-piece was met by captain Nathan Clarke, who was left completely unmarked, but his weak header was comfortably gathered by Daniels.
The Iron forced a corner shortly after to relieve some of the pressure on goal, but after Canavan’s flick found Tom Hopper, Orient managed to steal possession back and counter-attack at pace. The ball eventually made its way to Dagnall, who dropped his shoulder and bent his shot towards the far post, but again Daniels was alert to catch the ball with ease.
After 13 minutes of end to end stuff where the home side managed to turn every chance they had to a shot on goal, Scunthorpe finally had their chance to force a save out of Orient ‘keeper Gary Woods, and they took it with aplomb.
Niall Canavan flicked on a long cross in to the path of McSheffrey’s who’s shot was well blocked, however the ball bounced clear and in to the path of Liam O’Neil, who took aim from the corner of the box, and expertly curled the ball over the flailing Woods, and nestled in to the top corner of the net. An absolutely exquisite finish from the man on loan from West Brom.
The goal proved as a wake-up call for Liverani’s men, who went straight down the other end of the pitch, and fashioned another chance through danger man Dean Cox, however his effort once again proved no problems for Daniels. Shortly after Bradley Pritchard found an opening to let fly, however a fantastic last-ditch tackle from Isaiah Osbourne smothered the Zimbabwean’s attempt, also deflecting the ball off of the O’s midfielder for an Iron goal-kick.
Gianvito Plasmati was next to try and level the scores at the midway point of the first half, however a speculative effort from inside the pitch centre circle sailed well off target, as he attempted to catch our Daniels, who was standing far off of his line. It wasn’t until the 28th minute for next notable instalment of this crunch game, but there’s no doubt it was a memorable one.
McSheffrey received the ball out wide on the left after breaking from an Orient free-kick, and drove down the wing in to acres of space. He fired in a low delicious cross which the advancing Hopper could not quite meet after stretching out a leg, but it was enough to confuse O’s ‘keeper Woods, who flapped at the ball and completely missed it, before stinging the inside of the net. The travelling 591 Scunthorpe supporters erupted with cheers, as the team made it 2-0 just before the half hour mark.
United were almost in again minutes later for a third, as Madden’s cross again almost left Woods red faced once again, as he fumbled the Irishman’s ball threw his own legs, however fortunately for him out only for a corner.
The home side has a huge chance to reduce the arrears, but were kept at bay by some heroics from Daniels and captain Neil Bishop. With Dagnall beating the offside trap and heading toward goal, Daniels sprinted off his line to close down Liverpool-born forward, with the ball finding its way to Pritchard, but a last-ditch tackle from Bishop prevented the Orient man from pulling the trigger, with an almost open goal to shoot at.
There wasn't another chance until the final 30 seconds of the first half, when Dean Cox was gifted a golden chance to bring his side back in to the game. Cox made some room to shoot inside the box, which had Daniels rapidly shifting across goal to parry clear, before the ball fell to Pritchard in a decent position he failed to get a shot off, with the referee blowing for half time moments later.
The Iron kicked off the second half and started it as they finished the first, on top. With only four minutes gone in to the second half, it was 3-0. Madden, with an abundance of space on the right hand side powered past Gary Sawyer and fizzed a pin point ball that was both out of reach for Woods and the O’s centre halves, but not for Hopper, who knocked the ball in to an empty net from three-yards out, making it his third goal in four games since signing for Leicester City on loan.
A corner for the away side shortly after caused more problems, however despite a touch from Madden, Woods managed to gather to prevent a fourth goal.
Orient brought on Darius Henderson on at the interval in place of the struggling Plasmati, and he unleashed a vicious half volley from the edge of the area, again fortunately for Luke Daniels it was straight at his chest.
With the game end-to-end, Orient were handed a lifeline on the 67th minute when referee Keith Hill awarded the home side a penalty when Jordan Clarke bundled over Henderson on the edge of the six-yard box.
The experienced front man picked himself and rifled the spot-kick straight down the middle, sending Daniels the wrong way, giving the O’s a route back in to the game at 3-1.
Scunthorpe went straight up the other end in search of a goal that would restore their three goal lead, and they almost found it after McSheffrey’s looping cross found Madden eight-yards out, but the Iron’s top scorer could only head over as Woods closed him down.
With 13 minutes to go, Osbourne gave a way a free-kick in a very dangerous position for the hosts, after he brought down David Mooney, but set-piece specialist Cox got too much on his effort, as it flew over the bar.
The Iron knew they needed another goal just to assure the win, and they got that fourth on the 80th minute. Liam O’Neil picked up the ball in midfield and played through Hopper, who finished superbly past Woods in the one-on-one, making it 4-1 to the North Lincolnshire club, and both his second of the day, fourth in four games.
That was Hopper’s last involvement of the game, as he made way for 18-year old winger Hakeeb Adelakun.
United had five minutes plus four minutes of added time to see out and they did so with relative ease to seal the points and a thumping away win.
LEYTON ORIENT: Woods, Omozusi, Baudry, Clarke, Sawyer, Pritchard (Hedges 68), Vincelot, Lundstram (Mooney 76), Cox, Dagnall, Plasmati (Henderson 46).
Subs not used: Lowry, Wright, Eardley, Grainger.
SCUNTHORPE UNITED: Daniels, Clarke, Boyce, Canavan, Williams, Osbourne, Bishop, Madden (Taylor 90), O’Neil (Evans 90), McSheffrey, Hopper (Adelakun 82).
Subs not used: Anyon, McAllister, Murphy, Llera.
ATTENDANCE: 5,184 (591 away).