Express & Star

Leyton Orient 1 Walsall 0 - Report

Walsall's winless run now stands at nine matches in all competitions after a 1-0 loss at League Two leaders Leyton Orient.


The Saddlers put in a solid first-half display at Brisbane Road against Richie Wellens' pace-setters

Centre-half Omar Beckles, though, struck for the hosts near the hour mark and Michael Flynn's men were unable to muster a response.

Beckles poked the ball home from a couple of yards out while Walsall's shortcomings in the final third continued.

They worked hard throughout but, again, there was a noticeable absence of quality and conviction in attack. Once Orient got themselves in front, the outcome seemed inevitable.

The Saddlers sit 15th in the table with nine points from as many matches so far. They could certainly do with a victory sooner rather than later.


Walsall made two changes from the midweek draw against Colchester United.

Tom Knowles – the scorer of the equaliser in that game – missed out entirely along with Hayden White, and those two were replaced in the side by Andy Williams and Jacob Maddox.

With the Saddlers' ongoing injury crisis, they had just six substitutes, including 17-year-old forward Jonas Mukuna.

Orient were able to name an unchanged starting line-up as they aimed to make it nine unbeaten in the league.

Leyton Orient v Walsall action (pic Owen Russell)

Walsall started anxiously and almost endured a repeat of the Colchester clash which saw them concede just two minutes in.

Indecision from Owen Evans – motioning to come off his line but then opting to stay put – put skipper Donervon Daniels in danger, with the centre-half having to be sharp to deny Ruel Sotiriou before offering Evans a frustrated glance.

Having survived that scare, the Saddlers went on to win a succession of corners.

One of those saw Taylor Allen flick the ball over the bar from Maddox's low delivery. Another early chance for the visitors came when Darren Pratley was dispossessed, but Brandon Comley's pass towards Danny Johnson had too much on it and the opportunity went begging.

Walsall, to their credit, were doing a fine job of keeping Orient penned in and continued to look the more threatening of the two teams.

Maddox – making his first start having joined as a free agent earlier this month – was keen to get on the ball and make things happen.

Midfield partner Isaac Hutchinson was busy as well and clipped over a cross for Williams, whose looping header was stopped by Lawrence Vigouroux.

Orient gave a glimpse of their quality as a neat passage of play saw Sotiriou's quickfire strike sting the palms of Evans.

The hosts began to grow in confidence towards the end of half, with Idris El Mizouni tidy in the middle of the park.

Leyton Orient v Walsall action (pic Owen Russell)

Still, they were unable to carve out a clear-cut opportunity and the Saddlers could reflect on a solid first period.

Flynn's charges had another chance on the counter shortly after the restart but lacked the necessary quality in the final third.

Williams' through-ball forced Johnson too far wide, with the latter scuffing an attempted cross into the grateful arms of Vigouroux.

Walsall's attacking influence waned as the hour mark approached.

Orient were dictating the tempo, and they took the lead thanks to some individual quality.

George Moncur ghosted into the area unmarked and displayed some fancy footwork to shift the ball onto his left foot.

His low attempt was saved by Evans but only went as far as Beckles, who bundled home from point-blank range.

Leyton Orient v Walsall action (pic Owen Russell)

Orient had their tails up after breaking the deadlock and were not far away from adding a swift second as substitute Aaron Drinan's cross deflected off Allen and brushed the side netting.

Walsall were offering very little going forward and Flynn made a double switch as Timmy Abraham and Danny Cashman replaced Hutchinson and Johnson.

Abraham was keen to stretch his legs and give the hosts' backline something to think about.

Maddox, meanwhile, did well to win a free-kick in a dangerous position – Cashman's effort deflecting off target..

The Saddlers made one last throw of the dice late on as Ronan Maher replaced Comley, with Jack Earing an unused substitute for the third match in succession.

Ultimately, Orient were able to see it out for the three points with relative comfort. They are sitting pretty with 25 points from a possible 27 in the league.

Walsall, on the other hand, are gradually sliding further down the table. They could very much do with a strong performance at Cheltenham Town in the Papa John's Trophy on Tuesday night to lift the mood.


Orient (4-3-3): Vigouroux; James, Beckles, Happe (Ogie, 67), Sweeney; Pratley (Brown, 76), Moncur, El Mizouni; Smyth (Archibald, 76), Kelman, Sotiriou (Drinan, 60)

Subs not used: Sargeant (gk), Clay, Duke-McKenna

Goal: Beckles (58)

Walsall (4-1-2-1-2): Evans; Bennett, Daniels, Monthe, Allen; Comley (Maher, 85); Kinsella, Hutchinson (Cashman, 66); Maddox; Johnson (Abraham, 66), Williams

Subs not used: Clarke, Earing, Mukuna

Attendance: 6,736 (367 Walsall fans)

Referee: Andy Davies