FIVE-STAR ORIENT HIT FORM AT LAST
AFIRST win in six games came too late to save Leyton Orient’s automatic promotion ambitions but manager Russell Slade believes it will do his side a power of good in the play-offs.
A double for David Mooney and goals from Kevin Lisbie, Dean Cox and Chris Dagnall saw Orient end their recent run in style.
The damage had already been done though with Wolves sealing their promotion to the Championship and Brentford, seven points clear of the O’s, looking odds on to book up the remaining spot.
Instead Orient look set to battle it out with Rotherham, Preston and Peterborough in the play-offs and Slade hopes his side can go into that as the form side.
“It is important that your forwards score at any stage of the season and it wasn’t going to be long before they returned to it.We scored some smashing goals,” he said.
“I’m not interested really (in securing a home second leg). When you look at the stats for the pay-offs I don’t think you can read into it.
“I’ve been in two play-off finals and there’s no script. People think that finishing third is the worst position to finish but 50 per cent of them go up.
“People say ‘don’t finish third’ but it’s ridiculous. It doesn’t matter. It will be about the ‘now’ situation and how you are on the day. It’s all that matters.”
With their first attack, the O’s took the lead through Mooney who latched-on to John Lundstram’s precise through ball before calmly firing beyond Stuart Nelson’s grasp.
Just four minutes later Cox doubled Orient’s lead when Mooney offloaded to the 29-year-old who smashed in his 14th goal of the season from range.
Jamie Jones gathered up Amine Linganzi’s limp shot 27 minutes before skipper Adam Barrett nodded just over the bar. Livewire Moses Odubajo skinned his man after the half hour and fed a pinpoint cross to Lisbie whose bullet header whizzed past the helpless Nelson.
Mooney nabbed a second straight after Lisbie robbed Michael Harriman and played in the Irishman who side-footed his 20th goal this term. Just after the interval Mooney was denied a third by Nelson before Lingzani’s deflected effort landed just past the post.
On 56 minutes Lisbie fired over after Odubajo tore down the right wing, before Cox had his shot as charged down.
Dagnall added the gloss to a pulverising O’s performance with a cool finish before Craig Fagan drilled in a consolation to restore a semblance of pride for the ravaged Gills late on. Gillingham manager Peter Taylor said: “That was probably the most embarrassing 45 minutes I’ve ever had as a manager. All you saw was the very clever play from Orient and the very bad from us.
“You didn’t see any attacking play from us but you saw poor defending, poor decision making and we were just too far away from them. If you do that (go two-down) against a bad team you’re in trouble and do it against a good team you’re certainly in trouble.”
STAR MAN DAVID
Orient Leyton FIRST OF MANY: David Mooney scores his first past Stuart Nelson. Inset: Dean Cox finds the net