O’s hone in on a play-off berth

Leyton Orient v Blackpool – Sky Bet League One – Brisbane Road – Report

Leyton Orient 1-0 Blackpool

Leyton Orient moved up to eighth in the table – just five points off the Sky Bet League One play-off places, after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over fellow promotion contenders Blackpool at the Gaughan Group Stadium with Ollie O’Neill’s second-half goal – his third since signing from Fulham in January, seeing O’s through to the win.  

Richie Wellens made one change to his starting line-up following O’s 2-1 victory at Oxford United on Saturday, with Brandon Cooper returning from suspension to replace Darren Pratley, who dropped to the bench.

After a minute of applause for former O’s player Stan Bowles, who passed away at the weekend aged 75, the game kicked off with both sides moving the ball well but to little end product early on before Blackpool had two chances in quick succession when Karamoko Dembele broke down the left-hand side to fire across the area, only for Jake Beesley to fail to get a touch on the ball with the goal at his mercy. Just seconds after, Jordan Gabriel was presented with another excellent opportunity to fire the Tangerines ahead from the centre of the penalty box – but much to the dismay of the travelling Blackpool contingent, his effort was skied high over Sol Brynn’s crossbar. 

Blackpool’s Marvin Ekpiteta and Leyton Orient’s Ruel Sotiriou tussle (Photo by Rob Newell CameraSport)

Despite O’s pushing forward well creating several half chances and Blackpool looking dangerous on the break, neither goalkeeper was seriously troubled with the teams going in at the end of the opening period with the game still goalless. 

With O’s starting at a lively pace following the resumption, the deadlock was finally broken in the fifty-second minute when Ruel Sotiriou powered through the Blackpool defence before timing his pass perfectly for O’Neill on the left to run on into the box and fire home into the far corner of the net to make it 1-0.

Just minutes after the goal, the Tangerines were dealt a further blow when substitute Andrew Lyons, who had only been introduced at the start of the second half, pulled up and following prolonged treatment was carried from the pitch on a stretcher.

With chances at a premium, the remainder of the match turned into somewhat of a turgid affair before in stoppage time, Sotiriou once again ran at the visitor’s defence before seeing his shot well saved by Daniel Grimshaw – with O’Neill following up, firing the resultant rebound just wide of the post.

Blackpool’s Matthew Pennington and Leyton Orient’s Ruel Sotiriou battle for possession (Rob Newell CameraSport)

Blackpool were unable to manage a shot on target throughout the whole of the second half and O’s played out time with total ease to scoop the points.  

As their victory song ‘Rocking All Over The World’ blared from the loudspeakers at the end, Wellens and his men were left to reflect on a thoroughly resilient performance that sees the O’s, whilst not at their free-flowing best on the night, serve notice once again that their promotion challenge remains firmly on course with the all-important ‘business end of the season’ rapidly approaching.

Next up for Leyton Orient in Sky Bet League One is the visit of Bristol Rovers to the Gaughan Group Stadium on Saturday (3pm).

Leyton Orient: Brynn, James, Brown (Pratley 81’) Sotiriou, Cooper, Moncur (Hunt 46’) El Mizouni, Forde (Sanders 75’) Beckles (Capt) O’Neill, Galbraith (Edwards 89’) Subs not used: Howes, Sweeney, Adu-Adjei

Blackpool: Grimshaw, Connolly, Gabriel (Lyons 46’) (Virtue 59’) Pennington, Norburn (Capt) (Carey 85’) Byers (Morgan 60’) Joseph (Kouassi 60’) Dembele, Beesley, Ekpiteta, Hamilton. Subs not used: O’Donnell, Husband

Referee: Ben Speedie

Assistants: Kevin Howick and Paul Evans

Fourth Official: Samuel Ogles

Attendance: 7,198 (538 from Blackpool)