McLean dents Orient promotion prospects
League One: Leyton Orient 0 Bradford City 1
Former Orient trainee Aaron McLean returned to haunt his former club and put another nail in their automatic promotion coffin.
The Bradford striker scored the only goal of the game just before the half hour mark, arriving unmarked at the back post to convert a Gary Jones corner.
The O’s had a succession of chances but could not find a way past Jon McLaughlin in the Bantams’ goal with Kevin Lisbie and Scott Cuthbert particularly culpable.
As tempers frayed, Orient assistant manager Kevin Nugent and Bradford boss Phil Parkinson were both sent off at half-time after a big bust-up in the tunnel.
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The O’s made three changes from the team which drew 1-1 with Oldham on Tuesday night.
Eldin Jakupovic has been recalled by Hull so goalkeeper Jamie Jones made is first appearance since December 22.
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Marvin Bartley suffered a hamstring injury in the game and new loan signing John Lundstram came in to replace him with Jamie Ness in for the rested Lloyd James in midfield.
Gary Sawyer replaced Elliot Omozusi at left-back who dropped to bench, where he was joined by Shaun Batt.
After the disappointing result against Oldham a win was imperative to keep their League One automatic promotion challenge alive and Lisbie should have given the hosts the lead inside five minutes.
The veteran striker beat McLaughlin but Andrew Davies blocked his shot on the line.
David Mooney and Nathan Clarke were both off target with headers before Lisbie shot into the side netting from a tight angle, but McLaughlin produced a brilliant point blank save to deny Cuthbert two minutes before the visitors took the lead.
After McLean’s intervention Orient struggled for fluency, although Mathieu Baudry should have scored from a Jamie Ness free-kick and Moses Odubajo’s cross was almost fumbled by McLaughlin at the feet of Lisbie.
After the break Carl McHugh headed over from a Jones corner as Bradford continued to cause problems from set pieces, before forcing his namesake Jamie into a decent save with a rasping drive.
Dean Cox headed Odubajo’s deep cross over the bar, but despite the introductions of James and Batt, the east Londoners struggled to severely test McLaughlin – although the latter curled just over the bar after a typically surging run.
Bradford sub Garry Thompson brought two wonderful saves out of Jones as the hosts chased the game but one goal was enough for the visitors to clinch the points.
Despite the defeat the O’s need only one more point to clinch a play-off place. But a top two finish looks a big ask now as their poor run stretched to one win in six at just the wrong point of the season.
Leyton Orient: Jones; Cuthbert, Baudry, Clarke, Sawyer; Odubajo, Ness, Lundstram (James 70), Cox; Lisbie (Dagnall 79), Mooney (Batt 70). Substitutes not used: Larkins, Omozusi, Lasimant, Simpson.