Leyton Orient moved yet another step closer to non-league football after a heavy defeat at the hands of league leaders Doncaster Rovers.
Orient boss Danny Webb witnessed his side defeated 4-1 at the Matchroom Stadium as his 11 men were outclassed by their opponents. Goals from John Marquis and former O’s skipper Mathieu Baudry helped Darren Ferguson’s side take another step closer to the Sky Bet League Two title.
The O’s manager fielded a much-changed side from the one that lost 5-0 at Accrington in midweek. Although League Two’s bottom club was boosted by the return of Captain Liam Kelly following his recent suspension, they were also without Nicky Hunt and Callum Kennedy, who both picked up injuries during Tuesday’s defeat.
The game started at a good pace, with both sides seeing a large share of the ball, but it wasn’t long before Doncaster started to take control of the fixture, opening the scoring ten minutes before the half-time whistle. Tommy Rowe, who troubled the Leyton back four all game, latched onto a loose ball outside the area before firing a low effort into the bottom corner to give the visitors the lead.
The league leaders then piled the pressure on Alex Cisak in the O’s goal as they sought to double their advantage. As the first half reached its closing stages, it was Doncaster who looked the more likely to score the game’s second goal.
However, despite rarely threatening the Doncaster goal for much of the first period, Orient found themselves level just before the end of the half, courtesy of Tom Parkes.
The centre-back stormed 70 yards up the pitch after disrupting yet another relentless Doncaster offensive to support the energetic Gavin Massey, who found himself increasingly isolated as the game went on.
The striker managed to hold off challenges from the Rovers defence before picking out a pass to the venturing centre-half, who showed great composure to slide it past Lawlor in the away goal.
Doncaster made just one change at the break, with Ferguson replacing Lawlor with Marko Marosi after the stopper suffered a knock before the break.
The change had little effect on the match, as the second period picked up from where the first had left off. Orient continued to try and hit their visitors on the counter-attack with no avail, while Doncaster continued to assault Cisak’s goal with numbers.
It wasn’t long before the 816 travelling fans were celebrating a second goal for the away side. Marquis finally got the better of Cisak with a cool finish into the far corner after latching onto a wayward ball from the O’s defence.
The second goal signalled the start of the end for Orient, as the away side started to take full control of the game, firmly pressing their boots to the throats of the home players.
It could and should have been even more. Fresh from scoring in their midweek win over Notts County, substitute Andy Williams blazed over the bar after being brilliantly played through by Rovers captain James Coppinger in the 73rd minute. Gary McSheffrey, who replaced Coppinger moments after, also had his chance to add a third, but he too failed to find the target.
Nevertheless, with the Doncaster players demonstrating why these two sides are placed at opposite ends of the table, it wasn’t long before Ferguson’s men added a third, and then a fourth, in the last ten minutes of the encounter.
First, Marquis added his second goal of the game, and his 21st of the campaign in the 82nd minute, tapping in a low cross from substitute McSheffrey. Four minutes later, former Orient skipper Baudry scored his second goal in as many games with a stunning volley from a corner, to put the game beyond doubt and to push his former club yet another step closer to the relegation trapdoor.
With Leyton Orient now even more firmly planted at the foot of the League Two table and eight points from safety with as many games remaining, things are not looking encouraging.
With things still looking as difficult off the pitch as they do on it, it was evident after the final whistle that many O’s fans have now lost faith their team will still be in the Football League come the end of the campaign.
Starting XI: Cisak , Judd, Parkes, Clark, Pollock, Koroma (Dalby – 76), Collins, Kelly, Atangana (Alzate – 88), Semedo, Massey
Subs: Sargeant, Happe, Mezague, Moncur, , Liburd.
Goals: Parkes (44),
Starting XI: Lawlor (Marosi – 45), Alcock, Butler, Baudry, Blair, Rowe, Mason, Coppinger (McSheffrey – 78), Grant, May (Williams – 71), Marquis.
Subs:Middleton, Evina, Lund, Mandeville.
Goals: Rowe (36), Marquis (55, 82), Baudry (86).
Referee: Cristopher Sarginson
Attendance: 4,791 (816 away fans)