The Iron secured their first away league win of the season in convincing fashion, thanks to goals from Alex Gilliead and Lee Novak in the first and second halves respectively.
United headed into the clash on the back of a convincing 3-0 win over Sunderland in the Leasing.com Trophy on Tuesday, whereas the O’s were looking for a positive end to a difficult week, after manager Carl Fletcher’s departure on Thursday.
United got off to an absolute flyer with less than four minutes on the clock, taking the lead through Alex Gilliead’s rasping edge-of-the-box strike into the top corner. Just moments before the goal, Gilliead’s cross was scuffed narrowly over his own bar by home captain, Josh Coulson, which led to the Iron goal courtesy of a corner.
With 13 minutes played, the Iron pressed forward for another, this time through Kevin van Veen. The Dutchman got his shot off, but his powerful effort sails over the bar, after confusion on the pitch as a whistle is heard from the crowd.
Four minutes later, Louis Dennis found space 25-yards from goal, before firing a left-footed effort harmlessly over the bar, which was consequently the hosts’ first real chance of the game.
Shortly after, Jake Eastwood was called into action between the sticks for the Iron, alertly rushing off his line to smother Craig Clay at the back post, following a cross from the right by Maguire-Drew. Less than a minute later, Harrison McGahey was on hand to block an almost certain goal, putting his body on the line, after Dan Happe’s low strike.
In the 24th minute, Lee Novak broke with the ball in behind the O’s defence, but they did well to recover, ushering the play out for a corner to the Iron, which was later cleared.
Five minutes later, it was Orient’s turn to come forward. After Gilliead picked up a booking for a foul on the left edge of the box, Maguire-Drew curled a delightful ball to the back post, but Rory McArdle was on hand to use his experience and head behind, under plenty of pressure from the hosts.
After a quiet ten-minute spell, the Iron had a chance at the other end, carved out by Matthew Lund, who picked the ball up inside the O’s half, and chipped towards Novak. The centre forward headed back across goal for the arriving Eisa, but Brill was off his line quickly to gather.
The game once again sprung into life just before the interval, with Brophy driving at the Iron defence and forcing a solid save out of Eastwood, who parried away to his right following the danger.
With 44 minutes the clock, the Iron almost doubled their lead. After Novak chased what looked like a lost cause, the striker did brilliantly to hold up the ball and slide Gilliead in down the right. The latter’s low cross was once again aimed at Eisa, who would’ve hit the back of the net, had it not been for a perfectly-timed challenge from Ling.
The hosts started the second half brightly, putting the ball in the back of the net following a number of rebounds, but the goal was ruled out decisively by the linesman, after a number of O’s players were stood in offside positions.
Soon after, the Iron had possession up the other end of the pitch, and created their best chance of the early stages. Lund found van Veen on the left edge of the box, the Dutchman checked inside onto his favoured right foot, before curling a shot narrowly over the upright.
In the 59th minute, the Iron were denied a second by more great defending from the hosts. After Gilliead slipped in Novak with a through-ball, the latter squared to van Veen who looked destined to score around the penalty spot, before the ball was swept from his feet by the Orient rear-guard.
Just minutes later, van Veen’s corner was cleared back to the Iron number ten, who floated a perfect ball in finding Novak, but he couldn’t quite find the power nor accuracy to trouble Brill between the sticks. From the counter attack, Eastwood prevented the equaliser, saving with his feet from Dennis’ low, guided strike after Brophy played him in.
With 70 minutes on the clock, Orient were looking for a crucial equaliser. The ball was spread out wide to Ling, who did well to control, the full-back then fizzed a dangerous cross towards Lee Angol in the six-yard box, but Eastwood was there again to bravely gather, and avert the danger.
In the 74th minute, substitute James Alabi’s first involvement was to round Eastwood and slot into the empty net, but similarly to the first, the linesman’s flag went up early for offside, and play had long since been brought to a halt.
Just four minutes later, the Iron doubled their lead with Lee Novak’s sixth of the season. The forward broke in behind the O’s defence and fired past Brill, into the top left corner, as the Iron pushed for their first away league win of the season.
In the 84th minute, Eisa looked to make it three. Goal-scorer Novak found Eisa with a neat ball splitting the defence, but the latter’s powerful drive was beaten away at the near post by Brill.
Approaching added time, Eastwood did brilliantly to preserve the Iron’s clean sheet, getting a strong hand on Alabi’s strike. Although, less than a minute later, the aforementioned Alabi should’ve headed home Maguire-Drew’s set piece, but the former Iron loanee missed the target.
ORIENT: Brill, Ling, Ekpiteta, Coulson, Clay, Maguire-Drew, Happe (Angol 65’), Brophy, Dennis (Alabi 73’), Harrold, Wright.
ORIENT UNUSED SUBS: Sargeant, Gorman, Marsh, Turley, Ogie.
IRON: Eastwood, Clarke, Ntlhe, Lund, van Veen (McAtee 78’), Perch, Novak, Gilliead, McArdle, McGahey, Eisa (Butler 90’).
IRON UNUSED SUBS: Watson, Colclough, Dales, Bedeau, Proctor.
ATTENDANCE: 6,670 (612 away).