ARGYLE manager Derek Adams hailed his side’s calmness and patience as a double first from the Pilgrims’ Cambridge graduates kept them at the top of their class.
Debut Argyle goals for Jimmy Spencer and Ryan Donaldson – both signed in the summer from Cambridge United – gave the Pilgrims a 2-0 Sky Bet League Two victory at the Matchroom Stadium in a game whose shape was dictated by the home side’s early recklessness.
The O’s were left with holes to fill after Robbie Weir and debutant Jens Janse were sent off inside the first 15 minutes, which necessitated their remaining nine men defending deep and in numbers.
The Pilgrims took the lead when David Goodwillie set up Jimmy in between the two reds, but had to wait until the 84th minute for substitute Ryan’s clinching second.
“I’m delighted for them,” said Derek, about his goalscorers. “They have worked hard over the summer and, coming to a new club, it is always good to get up and running.
“I thought we were in very good control of the match, possession-wise, but you never know, so it was good to get the second goal and finish the game.
“It was all about patience tonight. It wasn’t going to be easy because we weren’t able to counterattack [Leyton] because they sat so deep,
“They dealt well with crosses into the box – that’s what they are very strong at – and we found it difficult to get opportunities in and around the area, even though we had a good number.
“It was about keeping calm and moving the ball, trying to find the right space to play in. We tried to create a lot of width but, at times, that suited them because they had us out in the wide area. So we tried to go through the middle. It was just about prodding and trying to get another opportunity.
“Nine men were in the last third of the pitch and we tried to shift the ball from side to side, but they defended their box well. Sometimes there is nothing you can do if a team has all their bodies back in there. If you don’t find the right opportunity, then it’s going to be a long night.”
Orient captain Weir was dismissed within 30 seconds of the start of the game after a wild challenge on Ben Purrington, while Janse walked for hauling down Jake Jervis after he broke clear 30 yards from goal.
“They were both clear sendings-off,” said Derek. “The first one was a reckless challenge, out of control on the touchline – I was right in front of it – and the second one was the last man. Both correct decisions by the referee.
“[Weir] slid in and caught Ben Purrington high on the ankle. You can’t tackle that way; the rules state that. If you are sliding in and you are not in control of your body then it’s a sending-off, I’m afraid.
“Jake Jervis was going through on goal. He put the ball past [Janse]; he is in on goal; he’s got a goalscoring opportunity. It’s a clear sending-off; nobody could complain.”
Derek made three changes to the Pilgrims’ starting line-up from the one that had drawn 1-1 at home to Hartlepool United three days previously, recalling Jimmy and Jake as well as midfielder Connor Smith.
“Tonight was just about freshening things up,” he said. “We have got a lot of games to play in the next two weeks so I think it is important we get a freshness in and to give other people opportunities, to take people out and put them back in again.
“We’ve got a bigger squad from the point of view that we’ve got better competition for places than last year. The numbers are exactly the same but, spread throughout the squad, I feel that I’ve got even substitutes that can all start the game.
“Last year, we had six or seven injuries around about Christmas time and we were unable to replace them with like players; this year, we should be able to do that.”
The Pilgrims’ fourth successive away victory put them five points clear at the top of League Two after 10 matches, ahead of a host of teams in the chasing pack, with a home Westcountry derby against Yeovil Town to come this Saturday.
Derek said: “It’s a difficult league – you just have to look at the results tonight and look how tight it is all the way down. For us to go on the run we are on at this moment in time is an excellent start.”