ORIENT ESCAPE WELSH ORDEAL
LEYTON Orient boss Ian Hendon let out a deep breath on his way to the Rodney Parade exit after his side left with all three points, despite blowing an early two-goal lead.
Orient maintained their 100 per cent record to stay top of League Two, but they were made to work hard for victory against Newport County.
The visitors made a blistering start as a header from Paul McCallum and a Jay Simpson scorcher blasted them to a 2-0 lead after only seven minutes.
McCallum and Dean Cox could each have extended their advantage, only to waste promising opportunities.
And Terry Butcher’s Newport side showed they won’t lie down for anyone, conjuring up two strikes in as many minutes to go into the break level and right back in the match.
First Scott Boden crashed in a shot off the underside of the bar after a fine move on 41 minutes.
Then, a little over 60 seconds later, County skipper Mark Byrne gave visiting goalkeeper Alex Cisak no chance with a rocket into the top corner.
The hosts dominated for much of the second half but couldn’t make it pay and they were punished by man-of-the-match Cox just before the hour mark.
“We had to work hard to keep the run going,” said a relieved Hendon.
“We started superbly with two good goals and we should have made it three when McCallum headed wide. Had that gone in then it would have killed off the game.
“But Newport came back and made it difficult for us.
“It was a tough second half because they were in the ascendancy but Cox popped up to get the third and then it was a case of hanging on.
“We probably didn’t deserve the win because Newport were more than worthy of a point but we have to be happy with digging out a win away from home and we couldn’t have wished for a better start to the season.”
At one point, Newport would no doubt have sniffed victory, having bounced back from a nightmare start in front of their home fans to head into the break level, but Cox’s class told in the end.
Defeat leaves Newport with just one point from their opening four games and inside the bottom two and England legend Butcher was left to rue missed chances and some sloppy defending.
“It feels terrible,” said the Exiles boss. “I thought we deserved a lot more.
“We came out in the second half and dominated it and they scored their third goal totally against the run of play.
“We’ve had chances to equalise at the end and apart from the first 25 minutes we had control of the game.
“We’re just bitterly disappointed that again we’ve let good opportunities slip by.
“The win will come and obviously we want it to come soon.
“However, we played some good football again against a team who are top of the table and a team that has had a lot of money spent on it.”
FIRST BLOOD: Paul McCullum opens the scoring for Orient and celebrates, inset, with Frazer Shaw and teammates STAR MAN DEAN COX Leyton