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By Trevor Davies, Leyton Orient correspondent
Saturday, August 18, 2012
League One: Tranmere Rovers 3 Leyton Orient 1
Orient slipped to defeat in their opening League game for the third successive season and only had a Michael Symes consolation penalty to show for their efforts.
Tranmere, unbeaten at home during 2012, wrapped up the points after Zoumana Bakayogo put them ahead in the first half before Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro struck twice after the break.
Symes replied late on from the spot, but it was too little too late, and to compound the misery O’s lost defender Scott Cuthbert with an injury early in the second half.
Orient boss Russell Slade made just one change to the side that had overcome Championship outfit Charlton in the Capital One Cup, with fit again goalkeeper Jamie Jones returning to the starting 11 and Ryan Allsop dropping to the bench.
And the O’s keeper was in action after just four minutes when Danny Holmes fired in a stinging effort that Jones kept out with a smart stop to his right, as the home side were quick out of the blocks and exerted early pressure. O’s looked to have weathered the storm, but fell behind on 34 minutes when they were caught on the break.
Jake Cassidy set up Bakayogo to score a rare goal and put Rovers into the lead – only his second strike in 119 appearances.
Referee Geoff Eltringham played three minutes of first-half stoppage time after O’s new signing Anthony Griffith suffered a first-half head injury.
And the visitors, who levelled at Charlton just before the break, almost repeated the feat when David Mooney controlled a long ball from skipper Nathan Clarke and prodded it goalwards, but Owain Fon Williams made the save.
Orient were forced into a change just three minutes into the second half when inspirational defender Scott Cuthbert hobbled off with a leg injury and was replaced by Ben Chorley.
And things went from bad to worse for the visitors on 57 minutes when Tranmere extended their advantage as Akpa Akpro scored a stunning effort from 25 yards with that flew into the top right hand corner.
And it was game over eight minutes later when Akpa Akpro scored again with a close-range header following a right-wing cross by James Wallace.
Manager Slade made a double change on 69 minutes when strikers Kevin Lisbie and Mooney were replaced by Symes and Ryan Brunt.
O’s went close to opening their account on 72 minutes when Mathieu Baudry fired in a shot from distance that flew inches wide of the post.
As Orient finished strongly they pulled a goal back from the penalty spot three minutes from time.
Jimmy Smith was fouled in the area by Wallace and substitute Symes, who scored in the penalty shoot-out against Charlton, made no mistake from the spot before the O’s scorer and Rovers keeper Fon Williams went into the book as the striker tried to retrieve the ball quickly.
But despite five minutes of stoppage time Rovers held on to their two-goal cushion as O’s opened their league season in familiar fashion.
Tranmere Rovers: Fon Williams, Holmes, Taylor, Bakayogo, Gibson, Palmer, Thompson, Wallace, Robinson (Bell-Baggie 76 mins), Cassidy, Akpa Akpro (Stockton 82 mins). Subs: Mooney, Kay, Harrision, Kirby, Power.
Tranmere bookings: Robinson (68 mins unsporting behaviour), Fon Williams (87 mins unsporting behaviour)
Leyton Orient: Jones; James, Cuthbert (Chorley 48 mins), Clarke, Sawyer; Baudry; Griffith, Smith, Cox; Lisbie (Symes 69 mins), Mooney (Brunt 69 mins). Subs: McSweeney, Laird, Allsop, Odubajo.
Orient bookings: Cox (68 mins unsporting behaviour), Baudry (80 mins foul), Symes (87 mins unsporting behaviour).
Referee: Geoff Eltringham