O’s play Santa as Southend take points

Leyton Orient 1 Southend United 2 ORIENT S inability to keep a lead for the third time in four games cost them dear on Monday, as this defeat saw them drop into the relegation zone, writes TREVOR DAVIES. In a tight derby, Adam Chambers fired Orient ahead

Leyton Orient 1

Southend United 2

ORIENT'S inability to keep a lead for the third time in four games cost them dear on Monday, as this defeat saw them drop into the relegation zone, writes TREVOR DAVIES.

In a tight derby, Adam Chambers fired Orient ahead 10 minutes into the second half, but two minutes later former O's trainee Adam Barrett levelled and then the visitors grabbed a winner 16 minutes from time, as Geraint Williams' side ended 2009 in the relegation places.

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Orient, after taking a point at Brighton on Boxing Day, were forced into making several changes.

Skipper Stephen Purches was forced out of the game on the morning of the match through illness and Charlie Daniels failed to recover from an ankle injury sustained at Brighton.

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Without their two first-choice full-backs, central defender Tamika Mkandawire filled in on the left, with Andrew Cave-Brown coming in on the right, with Luke Ashworth deputising for Mkandawire.

Jimmy Smith was recalled as midfielder Sean Thornton was ruled out through suspension, and Adrian Patulea partnered Scott McGleish up front, as Ryan Jarvis was still unavailable due to illness.

It meant O's could only field six substitutes, which included Harry Baker, Cestor Mike and Harry Beautyman.

In a first half full of perspiration rather than inspiration, Mkandawire headed over a JJ Melligan free kick, but Southend responded and Barrett went close with a header in a lively opening period.

However, after the early burst, chances were at a premium as the two teams battled for supremacy.

Andros Townsend was Orient's most potent threat down the left, while Chambers and Smith worked hard in midfield to keep the home side in contention.

At half time, Williams threw Loick Pires into the fray to partner McGleish, as Patulea was withdrawn and the youngster started to pose problems.

A Ben Chorley cross was met by Ashworth, who impressed throughout, but he headed just over.

Then Townsend went close after some clever link-up play with Pires, who set up the Spurs loanee with a clever back-heel.

So, it came as no surprise when the O's took the lead on 55 minutes. Townsend saw a shot blocked and the ball fell invitingly for Chambers to fire home from the edge of the area.

It should have been the signal for Orient to go on and take the points, but within two minutes Southend had dragged themselves level.

Simon Francis crossed from the right and Chorley's poor clearance only went as far as Barrett, who crashed the ball home.

The game started to ebb away and on 69 minutes Lee Barnard had a shot saved by Jamie Jones, but 16 minutes from time, another move down the right ended with Francis whipping the ball in again. Barnard reacted first and knocked the ball into the path of Alan McCormack, who fired home.

O's tried to get back on terms. Mkandawire had a shot blocked on 89 minutes and Ashworth had a header saved.

But the home side had tossed away another lead as well as three points and paid the price by dropping into the bottom four.

Afterwards Williams admitted: "That's where we deserve to be because we have not picked up enough points and if you look at the Christmas period it's been an encapsulation of our season.

"Lots of good things happening, but at the end of the day we're coming up short."

After letting leads slip through their grasp, Williams added: "We've talked about it, but talk doesn't get the job done.

"Here again, we have gone and got the goal in a tough, tight game, with not many chances at either end.

"We got ourselves in front and within a few minutes we have let them back in at the other end with a soft goal.

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