Declan McCarthy reports as the O’s playoff hopes take a damaging reversal.
Troubled Leyton Orient suffered a 3-1 defeat at home against playoff rivals Plymouth.
Goals from Peter Hartley and a second-half brace from substitute Jake Jervis split either side of Lloyd James’ cleanly converted penalty eight minutes from time, were enough for Argyle to seal the deal.
It was a dominant performance from Argyle, who have now won three of their last five away games, as they produced a well-structured defensive performance throughout the match. Leyton Orient will be disappointed with the result as a whole, conceding as they did from two set-pieces but overall Plymouth deserved the result.
Meanwhile problems continue to loom over the London club. Following a controversial week off the pitch for Orient, the win against Dagenham & Redbridge last Saturday was sorely needed, and the O’s headed into the Plymouth fixture looking for a second consecutive victory in League Two – something they last accomplished in late February.
Interim manager Andy Hessenthaler named an unchanged side ahead of the highly anticipated tie, while Plymouth boss Derek Adams made one change to the team that narrowly beat Portsmouth 2-1 on the weekend, as Reuben Reid replaced the visitors’ top goal scorer, Jake Jervis.
In the early stages of the match, Orient started much brighter out of the two teams. Jay Simpson, who scored a brace at the weekend against Dagenham, was hunting down his 26th goal of the season and nearly converted with a left-footed strike.
As Orient continued to impress the home fans, opportunities arose for the hosts but Plymouth defended well and battled under extreme pressure and pace from Orient’s attacking wingers – Blair Turgott and Sean Clohessy in particular.
Despite the bright start from Orient, Plymouth nearly took a surprising lead as Ben Purrington chipped a delightful shot onto the face of Alex Cisak’s bar.
As time went on Plymouth stated to get a grip on the match. Graham Carey was a dangerous threat all night, with his pace and wicked left foot providing defensive problems for the O’s. It ultimately cost Orient, as Plymouth struck on the brink of half-time.
Plymouth were awarded a controversial free-kick just inside the Orient half, and it was Carey who sent in a well-driven lofted cross for Hartley to meet at the far post and fire a strong right-footed strike beyond Cisak.
Following the break, neither sides made any changes. The only alteration was the referee with Anthony Da Costa, the original fourth official, replacing the injured Kevin Johnson.
The second half was very much like the first – entertaining for the neutral with both sides pressing well and attacking at full pace.
Orient had an appeal for a penalty denied as Turgott was brought down inside the Plymouth box but Da Costa ignored the appeals and instead booked Turgott for simulation.
In the 78th minute substitute Jervis doubled Plymouth’s lead to the despair of the Orient fans, beating his man at the near post to get himself on the end of another set-piece delivery from Carey.
It left a mountain to climb for the O’s, and despite the game going against them in terms of decisions from the referee, they did manage to get a penalty when substitute Ollie Palmer bolted past the Plymouth defence and was pulled down by substitute Jordan Forster who received a booking for the challenge.
With eight minutes to go James calmly slotted home from the spot to set up a potential comeback.
However, Orient were caught napping in stoppage time as Mathieu Baudry headed back towards his own goal only for the ball to be intercepted by Jamille Matt, who saw his sliced effort drop to Jervis who sealed the three points for Plymouth with a low shot into the back of the net.
Following the defeat Orient are now in 11th position and five points off the playoffs. The ever-growing gap makes next week’s local derby at AFC Wimbledon even more crucial for Hessenthaler and Orient if they are to have any chance at a potential return to League One.
ORIENT: Cisak, Hunt, Baudry ©, Brisley, Binnom-Williams, Clohessy (Kashket 70), James, Atangana, Turgott (Jahraldo-Martin 86), Gnanduillet (Palmer 62), Simpson
SUBS: Sargeant, Payne, Moore, Ramage
PLYMOUTH: McCormick, Mellor, Nelson ©, McHugh (Forster 55), Purrington, Houghton, Hartley, Boateng, Carey, Matt, Reid (Jervis 37)
SUBS: Sawyer, Wylde, Harvey, Tanner, Dorel
Rising East MOTM – Graham Carey
Attendance: 4, 908 (1,307 away fans)