Southend United opened up their Leasing.com Trophy campaign with a 2-0 defeat against Leyton Orient at The Breyer Group Stadium.
The home side scored what looked like being the only goal of the game in just the sixth minute when James Alabi’s far-post cross was headed in at close range by Dan Happe.
Orient almost grabbed a second a couple of minutes later when Harry Lennon smacked his own post clearing Alabi’s header on goal after Alabi had intercepted Lennon’s header back to Mark Oxley.
The home side then had another chance go begging when Jordan Maguire-Drew’s cross found Louis Dennis in space, but his free-header was never troubling Oxley in the Blues goal.
Kevin Bond’s side had to make do with only half-chances at best in the opening 45 minutes with Emile Acquah seeing his header from an Elvis Bwomono cross go wide.
Isaac Hutchinson had a couple of speculative efforts of his own fly off target before the Blues midfielder got himself sent off right on half-time by reacting to a foul by Dale Gorman.
Gorman had given away a free-kick by bringing down the Southend youngster, only for Hutchinson to shove Gorman to the ground in front of the referee, giving him no choice but to show a red.
Playing against 10-men, Orient went in search of a second goal early in the second-half and came mightily close when Matt Harrold headed the ball against the post before Alabi missed the rebound.
Maguire-Drew then saw an effort from outside the box go wide before forcing Oxley into making a smart save moments later, with the Blues ‘keeper parrying the Orient striker’s left-footed strike.
While only a goal down, the 10-men of Southend still held a chance of forcing an equaliser and they had two great chances to level through their two substitutes, Brandon Goodship and Simon Cox.
Making his 500th career appearance, Cox threaded a ball through to Goodship whose low effort from inside the box was denied by a great reaction save from Sam Sargeant.
Bwomono then picked out Cox with a low ball across the face of goal, but under pressure, the Blues striker prodded his effort just wide of Sargeant’s right-hand post.
But Southend’s push for an equaliser was to no avail as Orient would wrap up the points late on with Gorman grabbing a second goal in the final minute of normal time.
Gorman received the ball 20-yards from goal and curled a first-time effort beyond the despairing dive of Oxley to secure a winning start for Orient.
Leyton Orient XI: Sargeant, Gorman, Ekpiteta, Maguire-Drew (Clay 83’), Judd (Ling 46’), Happe, Dennis (Angol 66’), Harrold (C), Marsh, Ogie, Alabi. Subs Not Used: Janata, Wilkinson, Shabani, Sweeney
Blues XI: Oxley, Bwomono, Kiernan, Hamilton, Ndukwu (Goodship 46’), Mantom (C), Shaughnessy, Lennon, Acquah (Cox 53’), Hutchinson, Blackman. Subs Not Used: Bishop, Hyam, Humphrys, Taylor, Clifford
Referee: Christopher Pollard
Assistants: Bhupinder Gill & Daniel Cook
Fourth Official: Kevin Howick
Leyton Orient: Dan Happe 6’, Dale Gorman 90’
Southend United: None
Leyton Orient: Dale Gorman 45’
Southend United: Simon Cox 70’
Leyton Orient: None
Southend United: Isaac Hutchinson 45’
Attendance: 1,562 (308 Away)