Another away day, and yet another defeat. Orient slipped into the bottom four following a 2-1 defeat that owed much to Orient`s woeful first half performance when they allowed Bristol City both time and space of which the home side duly took advantage of. Two soft goals which underlined the defensive frailties of Martin Ling`s side gave City an almost irretrievable advantage, and despite a second half comeback of sorts, Orient could not find that all important second goal.
Martin Ling made one change from the side that drew with Brentford last Saturday with Captain John Mackie returning from the side after suspension in place of Brian Saah. It proved to be a move open to questioning as the O`s skipper looked far from assured in defence and he could take the blame for some amateurish defending which eventually culminated in goals for the home side.
City for their part started brightly and Glyn Garner had to be alert to tip Phil Jevons`s strike around the post after just three minutes. City seemed to be a yard quicker than Orient in the opening stages as poor passing continually let the visitors down. Gary Alexander was enjoying another good performance and his header down gave Wayne Corden the chance for a shot at goal, but having turned his marker inside out, the winger could only flash his effort wide of the post.
Orient seemed quite comfortable despite the pace and power of City`s midfield but a poor piece of Orient defending gave the Robins the early goal that they were searching for. With Adam Tann of the pitch receiving treatment, the O`s backline failed to reshuffle properly and once Noble`s cross had been knocked back across goal by Showunmi, Jevons managed to head the ball past the despairing dive of Glyn Garner.
It was an awful goal to concede as Orient granted Showunmi all the time in the world to knock the ball back across the penalty area and Jevons found himself completely unchallenged in trying to force the ball home.
Having fallen behind on twenty minutes, the home side were probably expecting to take advantage of their visitor`s lack of confidence away from Brisbane Road. City nearly increased their lead just five minutes later when a dreadful header from Tann allowed Showunmi a clear run at goal but Justin Miller managed to get back in time to pressurise the front man who shot tamely at Garner.
Orient were failing to make any impression with the midfield being completely overrun by a pacey and inventive City side. Orient`s front men were becoming more and more isolated as the home side finally took an iron grip on proceedings. This time it was an attempted clearance that found Showunmi in space and the striker struck his shot off the far post and into the net.
Once again it was far too easy for City as the City striker was allowed both time and space to fire his effort past Garner with not a challenge in sight. The goal was probably deserved as City had completely dominated proceedings in the first period leaving Orient chasing shadows and looking out of their depth once again.
Having been awful in the first half, Orient seemed to perk up in the second and took the game to the home side which eventually led many to question why the O`s hadn`t started like this in the first half. Orient nearly pegged the Robins back on 54 minutes when the otherwise disappointing Paul Connor headed on Michael Simpson`s effort only for Basso to produce a superb reflex save.
Orient were now on top as the home side decided to sit on their lead that had been given to them in the first half. The O`s looked far brighter and more assured in their passing as Simpson and Chambers at last found themselves exerting some sort of influence over proceedings.
On 65 minutes Orient finally found themselves back in the game courtesy of some madness from Showunmi. The former Luton Town front man decided to handle inside his own are for no apparent reason and Mr Beeby had little hesitation in awarding a penalty to the visitors. Matt Lockwood was the calmest man inside Ashton Gate and the O`s left back slotted the penalty home with great aplomb.
Orient were now controlling the game and managed to push City onto the back foot. The introduction of Shane Tudor and Jabo Ibehre in place of Corden and Connor added pace to the Orient attack as the O`s continued to dominate.
Tudor`s introduction was causing City numerous problems despite the winger`s poor end product. It was his skill and trickery that unlocked the left side of City`s defence and although Ibehre managed to make contact with the ball, Basso managed to block his effort before a large scramble saw the ball hoisted away.
Orient continued to press with City conceding territory to the visiting side. The O`s nearly snatched an unlikely equaliser when Justin Miller`s long throw was headed backwards towards his own goal by Jamie McCombe. The ball seemed destined to drop over Basso`s head but the former Woking ‘keeper somehow managed to divert the flight of the ball and keep the ball from going beyond his grasp.
That was the last chance that fell Orient`s way as City managed to survive and take the three points that their first half performance probably deserved.
Into The Drop Zone.
Abysmal First Half
Orient’s first half performance was a throwback to the days of that unenviable run where the O’s failed to win away from home for two years. The whole team looked poor with the defence particularly culpable for conceding two of the softest goals that you will see all season.
The midfield was continually overrun as City’s pace was just too much for an O’s midfield that constantly squandered possession whilst when they did have the ball, they elected to pass backwards rather than forwards.
Martin Ling must express his dismay at the negativity of the Orient midfield at passing the ball backwards and sideways. Joe Keith was guilty as much as anyone as the left winger had another wretched evening in an Orient shirt.
Saah Needs To Start
The omission of Brian Saah from the O’s line up was puzzling seeing as the O’s central defence pairing of last night had little or no pace between them. The pace and power of Showunmi could have been curbed by Saah’s presence with the youngster playing quite wonderfully against Brentford on Saturday.
The combination of Adam Tann and John Mackie cannot work as Tann does not possess the pace to cover for the O’s skipper. The absence of Gaby has never been more apparent, but in Brian Saah, Martin Ling has a ready made replacement.
Into The Drop Zone.
It may be early days, but Orient have entered the drop zone after another woeful display away from home. The O’s cannot expect to play for 25 minutes out of 90 and come away with anything other than a defeat.
Had Orient started properly then perhaps they could have got something from the game, yet in the first half in particular, they looked neither interested nor bothered about the outcome.
With a trip to Brighton on Saturday, Nartin Ling must raise his players for what will be a tough game against opponents that have failed to adapt to life in League One follwoing their relegation last season.
With no wins in their last six matches, this is simply a game that Orient cannot afford to lose.