Leyton Orient 1 Shrewsbury Town 0 - Report
Shrewsbury Town’s scoreless run stretched to five games after slipping to a 1-0 defeat at Leyton Orient.
Ruel Sotiriou netted the only goal of the game 20 minutes into the match - but it was a strike very much against the run of play.
Max Mata was twice denied by goalkeeper Sol Brynn in a promising opening 25 minutes for Town, but from then on familiar problems arose as they struggled to create against the O’s two banks of four.
And that meant Orient moved above Town - also winless since their last goal on August 26 - in the League One table.
The teams had started the day with just one point and one place separating them, with Town just ahead in 15th despite having played a game fewer than Orient.
Carl Winchester and Taylor Perry made the starting XI, despite having been doubts during the week, while Daniel Udoh also returned to the team.
That made three changes from the EFL Trophy clash with Brighton & Hove Albion Under-21s on Tuesday, with Ryan Finnigan, Tom Bayliss and Kieran Phillips the trio to drop out.
There was also a familiar face in the hosts’ line-up, with former Salop defender - and a big part of the Shrewsbury community during his time at Town - Omar Beckles lining up at the back for the O’s.
Town came racing out of the blocks. They could - and should - have been ahead inside five minutes.
Perry took the kick-off and then won a corner 14 seconds later. And from that set piece Chey Dunkley and Max Mata were both denied at close range as Orient desperately defended.
Mata was handed an even better chance in the fourth minute when Udoh slipped him in behind the hosts’ defence, but Orient keeper Sol Brynn stood up well and made an excellent save with his legs when one-on-one.
The O’s improved and forced a couple of corners - the first after Theo Archibald had fired a low across through the six-yard box - before going close when Brandon Cooper squeezed a shot across goal agonisingly wide from the left angle of the six-yard box. Town had a good claim for a foul on Nohan Kenneh in the build-up that went unpunished.
Town looked inventive without finding the killer touch, while Orient’s slightly more direct approach was keeping the Salop back three busy.
Two good Shrewsbury moves broke down within a matter of seconds of each other and Orient punished them with the opening goal of the game on 20 minutes.
A direct ball into Joe Pigott turned the defence on its heels and then Idris El Mizouni slipped in Sotiriou, who rifled into the roof of Marko Marosi’s net.
Undeterred, Town were straight back on the offensive with Winchester particularly trying to drive them on.
Udoh twisted and turned Beckles in the penalty area before seeing his low left-footed shot take the slightest of deflections to take it just past the post.
After that though, the confidence seemed to drain out of Shrewsbury for the remainder of the half.
Shots were snatched at too early and killer passes were delayed enough for Orient to snuff them out, while the hosts kept the ball much better than they had.
Town regained some of their impetus at the start of the second half, but the quality was suddenly lacking from both teams, with Salop only able to force a corner for their efforts, while Darren Pratley was booked for a foul on Winchester, who succumbed to his knock on the hour-mark, replaced by Bayliss.
Only a desperate intervention from Morgan Feeney kept it at 1-0 after Dunkley was left trailing in the wake of an Orient counter-attack involving substitutes Aaron Drinan and Shaq Forde, and goalscorer Sotiriou, who was denied by the outstretched leg of Feeney diverting his shot over the bar.
Feeney made another sliding deflection to stop Jordan Brown from range, before Taylor replaced his whole strikeforce with 22 minutes remaining as Kieran Phillips and Ryan Bowman replaced Udoh and Mata.
And Bowman had a chance with his first touch, but headed Perry’s cross straight at the goalkeeper, who made a comfortable save.
Tom Flanagan then saw his own header clawed away, with fellow centre-back Feeney the man to stand the cross up.
And head coach Matt Taylor followed that with his last throw of the dice, moving Chey Dunkley up front with Bowman and Phillips, while bringing on Joe Anderson and Brandon Fleming.
But it could not change the outcome, with Perry’s cutback towards Bayliss cleared.
And Ethan Galbraith should have added a second for Orient in stoppage time but dragged his shot wide.
Town: Marosi, Feeney (Anderson 85), Flanagan, Dunkley, Bennett, Benning (Fleming 85), Winchester (Bayliss 60), Kenneh, Perry, Udoh (Phillips 67), Mata (Bowman 67). Subs: Burgoyne, Finnigan.
Orient: Brynn, James, Pigott (Forde 62), Sotiriou (Galbraith 78), Archibald (Happe 78), Cooper, Moncur (Drinan 62), El Mizouni, Pratley (Brown 56), Beckles, Graham. Subs: Howes, Hunt.