Notts County 3 Leyton Orient 2

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John Sheridan named an unchanged team as he persisted with a 3-5-2 formation.

Orient started the game brightly and went close to taking the lead on five minutes when Jay Simpson hooked the ball just wide following Paul McCallum’s knock-down. Simpson had another chance on 15 minutes when the ball fell into his path in the area, but Louis Laing did enough to put the forward off his strike, ensuring his shot went wide. Notts’ first chance came on 16 minutes when Alex Rodman stood a cross up for Rob Milsom at the near post. He leapt well but saw his header diverted wide by a defender. Rodman was involved again shortly afterwards, whipping in a dangerous cross after playing a neat one-two with Matt Tootle. The ball fell to Stead, who feinted on to his left foot but saw his shot blocked. He quickly reclaimed possession and force a good save from Orient keeper Alex Cisak at the near post. The sides then exchanged blows as Michael O’Connor fired wide from range before Liam Kelly was off-target with a similar effort. Notts worked another shooting opportunity for O’Connor on 33 minutes. Stead did well to apply pressure to the Orient full back, winning possession out wide and spotting O’Connor’s clever run to the edge of the area. The Northern Irishman struck the ball sweetly, sending it whistling across goal and just past the far post. The Magpies kept probing and almost unlocked the door on the stroke of half-time, excellent interplay between Tootle and Milsom presenting the former with a fleeting opportunity to shoot. Orient defender Tom Parkes had other ideas, sliding in well to block. The visitors broke away quickly and Richard Duffy wrote himself into the referee’s notebook for deliberate handball as he sought to slow down the play. Two minutes were added on at the end of the half, during which Adam Collin saved comfortably from Simpson, leaving the scores level at the break.

Both sides reemerged unchanged but the landscape of the match was soon altered as Notts struck twice in quick succession. Forte struck first when, after excellent work by O’Connor and Rodman in midfield, Tootle sent over a teasing cross for the striker to head the ball goalwards. Cisak looked like he had managed to claw the ball off the line but the referee’s assistant flagged to give the goal. Orient barely had time to lick their wounds before Stead made it two, cutting in from the right before curling a beautiful low effort across goal and into the far corner with his left foot. Shortly after play resumed, Stead was replaced by Collins after receiving treatment from the physio. The visitors now had a mountain to climb but they had an opportunity to regain a foothold in the match when Laing was penalised for a foul on Robbie Weir, for which he was booked. The free-kick was in a dangerous position but Simpson could only curl the ball harmlessly over the bar. Controversy followed as, within the space of a minute, Notts were denied a penalty before being reduced to 10 men. Aaron Collins appeared to be unfairly felled after getting goalside of his defender in the area. Referee Brendan Malone was unmoved and Orient broke, leading to a foul by Laing which saw him receive his second yellow yard and, consequently, his marching orders. Milsom was the next man in the book when, on 71 minutes, he was yellow-carded after protesting the referee’s decision to award a foul against him. Sheridan’s next move was to send Vadaine Oliver on for Forte, shortly before Collin was twice called upon to help retain his side’s two-goal advantage. The keeper first dived to his left to push Kelly’s effort wide, before substitute Jordan Bowery headed the ball straight into his grasp. Collins came close to making it three at the other end, driving at Orient’s defence before curling the ball just wide from the edge of the area. Notts’ final change saw Jordan Richards replace O’Connor who, like Stead before him, hobbled off the field after requiring treatment. The match was already set up for a nervy finale, but the pressure was cranked up even higher on the hosts when Orient scored with three minutes of normal time to play. Bowery broke into the box to latch on to a ball over the top. He hooked it into the middle, where McAllum was on hand to nod the ball past the stranded Collin. Six minutes of added time were allocated, which did nothing to calm the nerves among the home supporters. But they needn’t have worried as Collins was about to score an outstanding goal to restore Notts’ two-goal lead. An Orient cross was dealt with by the hosts and Richards took charge, showing excellent composure to delay his pass until Collins had commenced his run down the right. The Wolves loanee took the ball in his stride on half way, steaming past his defender, cutting on to his left foot and sliding it past the wrong-footed keeper from the edge of the area. The visitors were unable to conjure a response in the remaining minutes and the match ended 3-1 to Notts.

Notts County: Collin, Laing, Duffy, Hollis, Tootle, Rodman, O’Connor (Richards 85), Milsom, Dickinson, Forte (Oliver 72), Stead (Collins 39).

Booked: Laing, Duffy, Milsom.

Sent Off: Laing.

Leyton Orient: Cisak, Hunt, Parkes, Erichot, Kennedy, Massey (Semedo 72), Weir, Kelly, Cornick (Nnomo 62), Simpson (Bowery 72), McCallum.

Booked: McCallum.

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