A depleted Exeter City side suffered their first defeat of the season at SJP, after a late strike from Ruel Sotiriou grabbed all three points for the visitors.
After a first half which saw City on the back foot, Demetri Mitchell popped up with a stunning strike in the 48th minute, before the O’s levelled through Joe Pigott. With the game looking to end all square, Ruel Sotiriou popped up with a long range strike to take all three points back to London.
Manager Gary Caldwell made three changes to the side that beat Burton Albion last Saturday due to injuries and players on international duty. Gary Woods, Sonny Cox and 16-year-old Jake Richards all coming into the side for Vil Sinisalo and Ilmari Niskanen who are representing Finland on international duty, and Dion Rankine who misses out through injury.
City named new signings Jack Fitzwater and Shaun MacDonald on the bench, alongside a return for James Scott.
The Grecians in their black and red Trust sponsored third strip to mark that twenty-year anniversary, got the action under way in sweltering conditions at the Park.
City found themselves under pressure in the first five minutes, with the O’s doing most of the attacking as City’s defence, which had only conceded two league goals so far this season, held firm.
The first real chance of the game came for the visitors after six minutes. A deep cross from Tom James was smashed against the crossbar from close range by Omar Beckles – a real let off for the Grecians.
City found it hard going in the first fifteen and had to deal with Orient’s high press, looking slightly disjointed in trying to spark an attack. Orient's set-pieces were causing City issues. A long throw found Beckles feet in the six-yard area. Luckily for City, he fouled Aimson and proceeded to volley wide.
Twenty minutes in, City had their first effort on the O’s goal. Ryan Trevitt span in midfield and found Demitri Mitchell out wide, he cut inside his marker and his shot from inside the box was deflected for a corner. The resulting corner from Reece Cole was well defended by Orient.
Gary Woods was tested by a long-range free-kick from dead-ball specialist Tom James who hit a flat effort from 25-yards which was palmed away by City’s shot-stopper. The resulting corner found Idris El Mizouni, who hit a fierce shot from the edge of the box which again Woods was able to push away from danger for another corner. The next phase saw yet another effort come close from the visitors.
Strong hold up from Sonny Cox in the 33rd minute saw the forward find an out ball to Demetri Mitchell. Mitchell cut inside and his cross looked comfortable for Sol Brynn in the O’s goal, but the ball slipped from his grasp, thankfully for the O’s they were able to clear the danger.
The final action of the first half saw Reece Cole fire a free-kick well over from twenty-yards. The Grecians were probably the happier of the two sides to go in at half-time.
City came out firing in the second half and took the lead in just the 48th minute in stunning style. Youngster Jake Richards found the ball inside the O’s half, he chipped a perfect ball over the Orient defence for Demetri Mitchell, who hit a thunderous half volley over Sol Brynn from a tight angle, and into the back of the net to send the Big Bank wild!
It wasn’t long until the scores were level. A cross into the box found Joe Pigott, he controlled the ball, bringing it down before firing into the bottom corner, leaving Gary Woods no chance to make it 1-1 on 55.
The second half certainly started more evenly than the first, but the equaliser drove Orient on to try for a second. The Grecians weathered a storm for ten minutes, before Gary Woods made a stunning save at full stretch to keep out a curling effort from the edge of the box as City were desperate to clear their lines.
This chance woke up City, and Sweeney’s searching ball down the channel found Kyle Taylor, Kyle moved forward towards the box, evading a couple challenges before making space in the box, however the ref blew for a ‘foul’ that most in SJP didn’t see…
Goalscorer Demetri Mitchell had a golden chance to give City the lead on 78 minutes. A quick City attack found Jules down the left, he cut inside and his cross found Trevitt on the edge of the box, his quick cross was in-front of the O’s defence and Mitchell challenged Sol Brynn for a header which flashed just wide.
A clever corner routine as we approached 90 minutes almost caught City cold but some strong defending, coupled with safe hands from Gary Woods kept the score level.
A few minutes later Orient would hit City with a sucker punch. Ruel Sotiriou found the ball inside the Grecians half and he drove forward before hitting a fierce low drive from twenty five yards that was out of the reach of Gary Woods and nestled into the corner to make it 2-1 to the visitors and take all three points back to London.
The Grecians are next in action on Saturday, September 16 as they face Cheltenham Town in a 3pm kick-off at St James Park. Click here for ticket information.
Exeter City XI: Woods; Cole, Sweeney, Aimson ©, Hartridge, Jules, Carroll, Richards (Beardmore ‘80), Trevitt, Mitchell (Borges ‘80), Cox (Taylor ’65)
Subs: MacDonald, Fitzwater, O’Connor, Scott
Yellow: Borges, Cole, Beardmore
Leyton Orient XI: Brynn, James, Pigott, Sotiriou, Archibald, Cooper, Moncur, El Mizouni, Pratley, Beckles, Graham
Subs: Howes, Sweeney, Brown, Forde, Galbraith, Sanders, Hunt
Yellow: Archibald, Pratley, Sotiriou
Attendance: 7004 (469 away)