Leyton Orient fought back from two goals down to draw level, but it was in vain as Notts County scored a third goal to give Kevin Nolan a victory on his return to Brisbane Road.
Jorge Grant put the visitors ahead shortly before the break and Jon Stead established a two-goal lead early into the second-half. However, Orient hit back a minute later through Paul McCallum. The O’s managed to get back on level terms with just under ten minutes left as Teddy Mezague found the net. Notts County ruined Orient’s comeback six minutes from time as Stead scored his second and the Magpies’ third goal of the afternoon.
Danny Webb made three changes from the side that lined up against Plymouth on Tuesday night. Suspended duo Liam Kelly and Nicky Hunt were replaced by Teddy Mezague and Nigel Atangana. Paul McCallum also returned from a knee injury to start and he was captain for the day. Sam Dalby dropped to the bench.
Judd Mezague Parkes Kennedy
Koroma Collins Atangana Semedo
Grainger, Clark, Moore, Moncur, Alzate, Dalby, Liburd
It was an even start to the game. Notts County sought to dominate in the air with direct balls up to the experienced pairing of Jon Stead and Shola Ameobi, while Orient were keen to use the pace of Gavin Massey, Sandro Semedo and Josh Koroma.
Danny Webb’s plans were thrown into disarray after eight minutes as Tom Parkes was stretchered off following a collision with Ameobi. Rather than use Michael Clark as a like for like replacement, the Orient boss brought Sam Dalby on and shuffled his side. Callum Kennedy moved across the defence to partner Teddy Mezague, Semedo moved back to left back and Massey moved to the left flank allowing Dalby to take his place behind McCallum.
Orient’s first real chance came when Sargeant released Massey with a quick throw. The O’s winger ran down the left flank and into the box. Massey’s shot was saved but the ball came back to him. He squared the ball towards McCallum and Dalby but somehow the Notts County defence were able to block the ball on the goalline.
At the other end, the height of the visitors’ strikeforce was continuing to cause Orient’s makeshift defence some problems, but they were often ruled offside. Orient’s counter-attacks were not leading to clear-cut opportunities either.
Adam Collin’s long goal kick was allowed to bounce, Stead beat Mezague in the air to flick the ball on to Jorge Grant who poked the ball past Sargeant and into the Orient goal.
Notts County then threatened to double their advantage soon after, but Callum Kennedy managed to get back and make a crucial intervention.
Orient made a strong end to the half and they were almost gifted an equaliser when Michael Collins’ low cross was almost diverted into the County net by Magpies defender Richard Duffy.
Once again Orient fell victim to an early second half goal. Mark Yeates played a ball in behind the O’s back line and Stead prodded the ball away from Sargeant and the ball spun into the hosts’ goal. Sargeant and his defenders felt that the ball was kicked out of the keeper’s hands and that the goal should not have stood.
However, Danny Webb’s side pulled a goal back immediately. Nigel Atangana met Josh Koroma’s delivery and produced a looping header that rebounded off of the crossbar. Paul McCallum was the first to react and he nodded the ball home to make it 1-2.
Notts County responded by putting the O’s under pressure. Shola Ameobi rose to meet a corner but his header was blocked as was his rebound attempt. Soon after, Callum Kennedy almost sliced the ball into his own net as he attempted to clear a low cross.
Gavin Massey had been lively, however, County were clearly instructed to pay close attention to the in-form winger. On one occasion where Massey broke away from his markers he attempted to recreate his stunning goal from midweek, but on this occasion, his fine curling effort was saved by Collin.
Orient were enjoying a spell of pressure and they came close again when Atangana connected with Myles Judd’s cross, but the Frenchman couldn’t get quite enough on the ball to score the equaliser and Notts County were able to scramble the ball away.
However, the equalising goal eventually came ten minutes from time. Massey’s volley from outside the box was blocked but the ball popped up nicely for Teddy Mezague who lashed the ball into the Notts County net.
Parity between the two sides lasted just three minutes as Kevin Nolan’s side edged back in front. Marc Bola weaved his way in between Koroma and Mezague and cut the ball back. Atangana missed the opportunity to clear and the ball went through his legs, reaching Jon Stead, who side-footed the ball into the far corner.
The goal was heartbreaking for the hosts who fought hard to get back into the game, but Orient couldn’t prevent falling to their fourth consecutive defeat at Brisbane Road.
The important games keep coming. Orient host Cheltenham Town next Saturday.