Lisbie’s sweet 16th lifts Orient
- Credit: Archant
League One: Leyton Orient 2 Tranmere 0
Kevin Lisbie’s 16th goal of the season helped Orient break the spirit of struggling Tranmere and set up victory at Brisbane Road.
With Mathieu Baudry and Elliot Omozusi out through injury, boss Russell Slade was forced into a reshuffle and brought Lisbie and Shaun Batt into his starting line-up.
For Batt it was a first start since the Boxing Day success at Gillingham, but it was Lisbie who grabbed the headlines as he pounced to net in the 44th minute after Scott Cuthbert’s header had been saved.
Lisbie was replaced by Chris Dagnall with 20 minutes left and the substitute sealed the points with Orient’s second goal soon after to keep hopes of a third-place finish alive until the last day of the campaign.
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The visitors had the first chance of note after two minutes as Ryan Lowe tried to chip Jamie Jones but saw the ball fly over the crossbar.
Dean Cox replied for O’s when forcing a good stop from Owain Fon Williams with a shot from the edge of the box on four minutes, though, and the hosts soon settled into their stride.
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However, despite dominating possession, Slade’s men could not create another clear-cut opportunity and Fon Williams got down well to hold Gary Sawyer’s low, whipped cross on 25 minutes.
Cox’s excellent free-kick was just missed by the head of captain Nathan Clarke at the far post on the half-hour mark, but O’s were building momentum and a fantastic pass from Sawyer found John Lundstram in the box to test Fon Williams with a good shot.
Then, with 36 minutes gone, the home side produced the best chance of the game to that point as Batt showed good pace to get in behind Tranmere’s defence only to fire into the side netting.
The deadlock was broken just before half time, though, when Cuthbert’s header from a corner was well saved by Fon Williams and the predatory Lisbie pounced to fire home.
The goal lifted the mood among home fans at Brisbane Road during the interval, but Tranmere made two changes for the restart and produced a strong start to the second half as Ash Taylor’s cheeky volley forced a good save from Jones inside three minutes.
The visitors had penalty appeals waved away moments later when Lundstram appeared to handle in the box as referee Darren Sheldrake said it was accidental.
But Orient saw a good chance go to waste on 54 minutes as Batt blazed over the crossbar, before Junior Brown saw his shot on the turn deflected behind for a Tranmere corner at the other end.
Play continued to swing from end to end as goalscorer Lisbie forced a good save from Fon Williams at his near post on 57 minutes, before his O’s teammate Mooney almost headed a Max Power corner into his own net.
Slade made his first change on the hour as Lloyd James replaced Batt and took up a position on the right side of defence, to allow Moses Odubajo to push forward.
And Odubajo was soon on the attack, forcing a fine one-handed save from Fon Williams.
Taylor’s cross was just beyond Brown and Power on 70 minutes, before Lisbie made way for Chris Dagnall.
And Orient went close four minutes later when the exciting Odubajo produced a stunning run through the Tranmere defence only to shoot straight at Fon Williams.
The hosts did not have to wait much longer for their second goal, though, as Dagnall doubled their advantage with his sixth goal of the season, taking advantage of a poor clearance from Fon Williams to fire back into an unguarded net from 30 yards.
Tranmere went close to a reply four minutes from time when Jake Kirby flashed a shot across the face of Jones’ goal.
But Cox sent an ambitious 25-yard effort over for Orient as normal time drew to a close.
Preston’s 3-1 win at home over Gillingham kept them in third place and another victory at Crewe next weekend will see them finish there. Anything less and an Orient win at MK Dons would see the two sides swap places.
Orient: Jones, Sawyer, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Cox, Lisbie (Dagnall 70), Mooney, Odubajo, Batt (James 59), Clarke, Lundstram (Ness 81). Unused subs: Larkins, Lasimant, Gorman, Simpson.
Tranmere: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Lowe, Cassidy (Kirby 46), Power, Jennings, Brown, Ridehalgh, Akpa Akpro (Rowe 46), Pennington. Unused subs: Goodison, Baggie, Stockton, Arthurworrey, Mooney.
Referee: Darren Sheldrake.
Attendance: 4,923 (including 524 Tranmere fans).