The O’s won their final pre-season fixture on the road, defeating Northampton Town by a goal to nil. Just after the hour new signing Bradley Pritchard grabbed the only goal of the game. Northampton had enjoyed their best spell during the first half, but failed to find the net. Orient were better after the break and they coud have won by a bigger margin.
Russell Slade was able to re-introduce Scott Cuthbert following his injury, while mid-week substitutes Nathan Clarke, Marvin Bartley and Chris Dagnall were also handed starts.
Orient made a good start to the match, pushing the hosts back and forcing a few early corners. That pressure almost led to the O’s taking an early lead. Bradley Pritchard’s low cross wasn’t cleared with conviction and the ball fell to Dean Cox, who fired the ball over the crossbar on the half-volley.
Northampton managed to settle into the game and they dominated the middle period of the half, with Chris Hackett looking particularly dangerous on the right wing, giving Gary Sawyer a stern test. The former Millwall winger produced a number of deliveries from set pieces as well as open play, but often the crosses were aimed at the back post where Scott Cuthbert was able to neutralise the danger. However, John-Joe O’Toole was proving to be a nuisance from corners and he should have opened the scoring with fifteen minutes of the half remaining. He gained a yard on Romain Vincelot and managed to rise above the Frenchman but he couldn’t keep his header on target.
The O’s had kept the ball reasonably well in the face of the Cobblers’ energetic pressing, but they had often lacked the final ball. The visitors’ best attacks came when Dagnall, Mooney and Cox combined and all three had opportunities to give the O’s the lead just before the interval.
First Dagnall helped fashion a chance for Mooney, who fired a low shot that tested Northampton’s Matt Duke at his near post . Then Dean Cox teed up Dagnall, who also opted for the near side, but again Duke was able to make the save. The last chance of the half was similar to the first. Cox attempted another dipping shot on the bounce from outside the box, however it narrowly missed the target.
After coming through 45 minutes, in which he impressed, Scott Cuthbert was replaced at right back by Lloyd James.
Orient were soon threatening the Matt Duke’s goal again. Cox swept a free-kick into the box and Mathieu Baudry won the header, only for the ball to spin wide. The Frenchmen then picked up a knock and as a result Elliot Omozusi came on to partner Clarke in the heart of defence.
Five minutes later the O’s took the lead from a neat attack. Cox picked out Dagnall’s run in behind the defence and the ex-Barnsley striker controlled the ball well before sliding a pass into the path of Pritchard who had lost his marker with some clever movement. The Zimbabwean midfielder showed his quality and composure as he curled the ball into the far side of the net while under pressure.
Changes were made after the visitors took the lead. The goalscorer Pritchard moved into the centre as Batt replaced Bartley and took his position on the right wing. Kevin Lisbie also replaced David Mooney.
Shortly after, trialist central midfielder Ayo Okusun came on for Clarke, which meant Vincelot partnered Omozusi in the middle of defence. The Cobblers tried to exploit any potential aerial vulnerabilities of the unfamiliar Orient back-line. The hosts’ only real chance of the half came when Evan Horwood produced an inviting cross from the left side, but Ivan Toney headed straight at Adam Legzdins.
Dagnall’s impressive fitness, workrate and tireless running deserved a goal and the Liverpool born striker came close on two occasions as the final whistle approached.
Northampton were almost caught out when Dagnall chased an under-hit back pass. The O’s striker managed to reach the ball but Duke had been alert and he was able to prevent Dagnall from advancing. He then had a sight of goal from a tight angle, but he seemed to indecisive as to whether he should pass of shoot and as a result he fired a low ball that evaded his teammates and missed the target. Kashket was brought on with three minutes remaining after a busy afternoon for Dagnall.
The O’s had managed to overcome Football League opposition well contest match against Northampton. Orient will now return to Brisbane Road for their final two matches of pre-season against higher ranked opposition in QPR (Tuesday) and Ipswich (Saturday).
Northampton: Duke, Carter, Collins, Richards (Toney 45), O’Toole, Hackett (Sinclair 64), Tozer, Diamond, Robertson (Horwood 71), Ravenhill, Mohamed
Subs: Langmead, Sinclair, Snedker, Nicholls, Moyo, Roberts, Toney
Attendance: 1.054 (142)