VETERAN striker Kevin Lisbie’s 12th goal of the season condemned Rotherham United to their second away defeat of the season at the hands of high-flying Leyton Orient.
The ex-Charlton forward struck in the first half to give the Millers’ a mountain to climb and despite the heroics of ‘keeper Adam Collin to keep Steve Evans’ men in the game, Orient held on to maintain their impressive start to the season.
Following their disappointing draw with Tranmere Rovers in midweek, the Millers’ chief made four changes to his starting line-up for the trip to London.
Icelandic international Kari Arnason made a welcome return to the heart of the Millers’ rearguard at the expense of Pablo Mills while Mark Bradley reverted to the full-back slot as Richard Brindley had to settle for a spot amongst the visitors’ substitutes.
Midfield stringpullers Lee Frecklington and Michael O’Connor also gave the visitors’ a timely boost with their return following suspension while Alex Revell was recalled at the expense of Daniel Nardiello and Tom Eaves, who dropped to the bench.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and Bradley had to be on-hand to snuff out the danger following fine interplay involving Lisbie and David Mooney before Lloyd James had the first sight of goal when O’Connor failed to clear on the edge of the box but his low drive was comfortably smothered by Collin.
In the Millers’ first foray upfield, Kieran Agard pickpocketed Nathan Clarke to earn a corner which saw Ben Pringle fire an inswinger which narrowly evaded the attentions of Revell.
Moments later, Revell’s knockdown saw Frecklington smash a volley from distance harmlessly wide before O’Connor spotted Jamie Jones off his line following a free-kick award but his long range effort blazed over the bar.
Despite a steady start to the game by the visitors, the home side took a stranglehold on the proceedings by breaking the deadlock just before the half hour mark thanks to Lisbie’s predatory instincts.
Following an arrowed ball to the flank, Moses Odubajo played a slide-rule box across the box which saw Rotherham failed to clear and Dean Cox poked the ball goalwards which forced Collin into a superb reflex save but to his anguish, the ball spun backwards in the air and after hitting the crossbar and despite Bradley blocking an effort, the ball dropped invitingly for Lisbie, who calmly kept his nerve to stroke the ball into the bottom corner of the goal.
The visitors were visibly rocked by the opener and Arnason saw yellow for a late tackle on Mooney before Lisbie glanced a header wide of the target following James’ centre.
Moments later, Lisbie’s flick-on paved the way for Mooney to play a tantalising centre across the danger area before Arnason’s skimming drive from distance was blocked by a retreating Clarke at the other end.
Morgan was the next to see yellow for a nudge on Lisbie on halfway before Orient came within a whisker of doubling their advantage just shy of the interval when James’ floated free-kick was not cleared decisively by the visitors’ and Cox smashed a goalbound volley which was bravely blocked by Bradley.
From the resultant corner, James’ centre saw Frenchman Romain Vincelot, ghost into the box unmarked but despite the goal being at his mercy, he glanced his header wide of the target.
In the last play of the half, O’Connor floated an inviting corner which had Jones at full stretch but Revell was unable to make contact at the far post.
Half-time:- Leyton Orient 1 Rotherham United 0
Following the restart, Mooney stung the palms of Collin with a daisycutter before Lisbie’s pass saw Cox fire a rasping drive from the edge of the box which was arrowing towards the roof of the net before Collin’s late fingertip intervention.
The Millers then launched a quick counter attack which caught the home side napping and Ben Pringle released Agard, who cut inside to work a yard of space before unleashing an effort from distance which failed to trouble Jones.
Moments later, fine interplay paved the way for Frecklington to fire a snap shot which was bravely blocked by Clarke before Agard fired wide from the edge of the box although the referee had already blown for an infringement.
The visitors were building a head of steam and after Pringle pounced on a lucky ricochet, Revell curled an effort over the bar before fine one-touch passing from Revell and Pringle minutes later presented Agard with a shooting opportunity but from an acute angle, he fired into the side netting despite sub Nardiello lurking menacingly at the far post.
The home side then wasted a glorious opportunity to double their advantage when Arnason misjudged his header and Lisbie took advantage of a two-on-one opportunity to give Vincelot a sight of goal but a fantastic last-ditch tackle by Craig Morgan kept the Millers’ in the game.
With the game in the balance, Joe Skarz fizzed a cross which looked to fall kindly for Revell at the far post but the ball raced away from his grasp before Collin was at full stretch at the other end as Gary Sawyer floated a free-kick which was arrowing towards the bottom corner of the visitors’ goal until his timely intervention.
Loanees Eaves and Tubbs were thrown into the fray near the end as Evans’ threw caution to the wind but Orient came closest to a second goal when Odubajo fired over before sub Shaun Batt exposed Morgan before firing a low effort which was saved smartly by Collin.
In injury-time, sub Marvin Bartley was yellow-carded for timewasting before Orient almost doubled their lead when firstly Cox forced Collin into a superb reflex save before sub Jayden Stockley’s mis-hit effort had to be cleared off the line by Bradley.
In the last play of the game, a swift home counter left the Millers’ short of numbers and Odubajo fizzed a rasping effort which forced Collin into an acrobatic save before the referee brought the game to a conclusion to the delight of the home faithful.
Full-time:- Leyton Orient 1 Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Leyton Orient:- Jones, Omozusi, Sawyer, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Cox, James (Bartley 68), Lisbie (Stockley 82), Mooney (Batt 68), Odubajo, Clarke. Unused:- Larkins, Lasimant, Gorman, Sutherland.
Rotherham United:- Collin, Skarz (Tubbs 84), Arnason, Frecklington, Revell (Eaves 80), O’Connor (Nardiello 56), Bradley, Milsom, Pringle, Morgan, Agard. Unused:- Shearer, Brindley, Mills, Tidser.
Referee: Darren Sheldrake
Attendance:- 5609 (533).