Cox goal sees Orient past Walsall
FA Cup: Leyton Orient 1-0 Walsall
Dean Cox’s 10th goal of the season fired Orient into the FA Cup third round.
The midfielder shot into the top corner past Walsall goalkeeper Richard O’Donnell four minutes before half time after Shaun Batt had missed David Mooney’s cross to defeat spirited opponents.
Orient striker was shown a straight red card in stoppage time for what looked like an elbow on Walsall defener Paul Downing, and he will be suspended for three games.
The Saddlers missed a sitter in stoppage time as Downing fired over with the last kick of the game from point blank range.
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The goal came against the run of play as the O’s were depleted by a sickness bug, with captain Nathan Clarke, Scott Cuthbert and even manager Russell Slade missing the match, with assistant Kevin Nugent taking charge of the team.
Striker Kevin Lisbie was still out with an ankle injury while Marvin Bartley and Josh Wright were unavailable due to the terms of their loan deals.
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Consequently Gary Sawyer and Yohann Lasimant stepped into the starting XI and only six substitutes were named, including former Orient player and manager Martin Ling’s son Sam.
And it was the Saddlers who made the faster start in a game of few chances.
Their top scorer Craig Westcarr forced Jamie Jones into a wonderful one-handed save from the edge of the box while Ashley Hemmings and Westcarr missed the target from distance.
Orient struggled to get any fluency with the changes making an impact, against one of only two sides to take points from Brisbane Road in League One this season.
Lasimant fired over from 30 yards but Cox took his chance when it came following good work by top scorer Mooney.
He said he aimed to get into double figures by the new year, and with three goals in the past three games he’s done it with 24 days to spare.
Slade rushed out to celebrate on the balcony of his flat which overlooks the ground when the ball hit the back of the net, and he can now look forward to a third appearance in the FA Cup third round in four years.
Walsall pushed on in the second half but Jones saved from Ashley Hemmings’ flick and Westcarr smashed a free-kick against the post, the ball rebounding to safety off the goalkeeper’s face, before Downing missed his late chance.
But the sickness bug emphasised that Orient need to strengthen their squad to maintain their promotion push.
The draw takes place tomorrow at 4pm on ITV1 following their coverage of Tamworth v Bristol City.
Orient team: Jones; Odubajo, Omozusi, Baudry, Sawyer; Lasimant (Gorman 75), James, Vincelot, Cox (Simpson 60); Batt (Lee 84), Mooney. Subs not used: Larkins, Finney, Ling.