Former Brighton winger Dean Cox fires Leyton Orient to Stevenage win
Leyton Orient moved to within five points of the League One play-offs after a deserved 1-0 win at Stevenage.
The O's were rewarded with a bright start as they scored an early goal through Dean Cox. Russell Slade's side had plenty of chances to seal the victory but the solitary goal proved enough to move them within a couple of wins of the top-six.
There was an immediate chance for Ben Chorley to face his old team-mates as the defender lined up in the Stevenage side following his shock move to Stevenage on Thursday night.
Millwall striker Shaun Batt was handed his debut for the O's after arriving on loan. Batt was one of five changes from the side which drew against Swindon with Cox, Jimmy Smith and Anthony Griffith all brought into midfield.
Leon McSweeney also returned to the team with Scott Cuthbert filling the void left by Chorley in the centre of defence. Nathan Clarke was fit to return to the bench after a couple of months out with a fractured foot.
The visitors created an early opportunity when Batt laid the ball off but Cox's shot lacked power and was comfortably saved by Steve Arnold.
But the O's grabbed the opening goal after ten minutes when Stevenage failed to deal with a cross and Cox netted at the second attempt after his initial close-range effort was blocked.
Orient nearly doubled their lead from the restart when Charlie MacDonald fired inches over the Stevenage crossbar.
Batt was looking a real threat for the O's and the new arrival nearly marked his first appearance with a goal when he fired in a shot which was pushed around the post by Arnold.
The hosts created their first decent chance just before the half hour mark when Lucas Akins cut inside but his low strike flew just past Jamie Jones' post.
Sam Hoskins came even closer for Stevenage as he raced towards the visiting goal and his powerful strike was turned round the post by Jones.
The home side kept the pressure on and were unlucky not to find the net when the ball was cleared off the line after a goalmouth melee.
Orient put a good move together after 37 minutes when Mathieu Baudry released MacDonald and his cross was headed into the side netting by Batt.
The O's had another scare just before the break when Filipe Morais struck a fierce effort which was tipped over by Jones.
Orient should have made it 2-0 though when McSweeney released MacDonald and the former MK Dons striker's shot was parried by Arnold.
The visitors had an opportunity at the start of the second half from a Cox free-kick but his strike was too close to Arnold.
Orient came close again from a Cox free-kick but MacDonald was unable to direct his header on target.
The O's were well on top and spurned another chance to add to their lead when MacDonald released Cox but the winger's low strike flew just past the far post.
Orient nearly took advantage of a poor header back from Mark Roberts but Batt's strike was well saved by Arnold.
Batt was applauded off by the away supporters when he was replaced midway through the half by top scorer David Mooney.
The O's had the ball in the net but MacDonald was denied his first goal for the club after his volley was ruled out for offside.
Orient made a second change when they brought on Lee Cook in place of Moses Odubajo.
The visitors again threatened to add a second goal but Mooney's long-range strike flew just over the bar.
A fine counter-attack from Cook cut the home team open and his pass found Cox but his curling effort was held by the Stevenage keeper.
Club captain Clarke made his return from injury for the last couple of minutes as Orient saw out the game to clinch another excellent away victory in the league.
Stevenage: Arnold; Gray, Charles, Roberts, Chorley; Tansey, Grant (Beleck, 58), Dunne, Morais; Akins (Lopez, 75), Hoskins
Subs not used: Day, Hills, Comminges, N'Gala, Shroot
Leyton Orient: Jones; McSweeney, Cuthbert, Baudry, Sawyer; Cox, Griffith, Smith, Odubajo (Cook, 73); MacDonald (Clarke, 90), Batt (Mooney, 65)
Subs not used: Obafemi, Rowlands, James, Omozusi
Referee: Darren Sheldrake