Match report: Leyton Orient 1 AFC Fylde 2
Fylde ended their five-match winless run with a vital victory away to a London side who had spent 112 years as a Football League club before relegation in May.
Two thunderbolts from top scorer Danny Rowe put the Coasters in control and they held on in the second half, despite Jobi McAnuff pulling one back and the late sending-off of Lewis Montrose, for a win which lifts them four points clear of the bottom in four in the National League.
Manager Dave Challinor made three changes to the side beaten by Woking a week earleir, with Tom McCready making his full debut, while Jonny Smith and James Hardy were recalled.
Hitman Rowe was the first to chance his arm early on with a low drive that whistled narrowly wide of the upright.
And it was the frontman who opened the scoring on 15 minutes. Smith was tripped on the edge of the area and Rowe’s powerful free-kick found the net after a slight deflection.
The goal sparked Orient into life and Fylde stopper Jay Lynch had to react quickly to keep out Craig Clay’s stinging strike from 18 yards.
Smith was wreaking havoc down the left and his cross almost provided the ammunition for Rowe to double his tally but the striker glanced his header wide.
The home crowd were incensed when Coasters captain Andy Bond cynically tripped James Brophy when through on goal. The midfielder received a yellow card and McAnuff wasted the promising free-kick, sending his cross into the stands.
Fylde survived a slight scare when James Drayton and Clay had efforts blocked in quick succession.
The visitors made a double substitution at the break, with Jack Muldoon and Jordan Richards replacing widemen Hardy and Smith.
Fylde flew out of the blocks and just three minutes in doubled their advantage in emphatic fashion.
Rowe picked up the ball out on the left before cutting inside and launching a sensational strike that arrowed into the top corner from fully 30 yards.
Orient midfielder Mark Ellis headed narrowly over moments later as the shellshocked hosts looked for an immediate response.
The chances kept on coming for Challinor’s side as Simon Grand nodded just wide of the far post from McCready’s inswinging corner just short of the hour mark.
Macauley Bonne was proving a handful up top for Orient and should have done better with a six-year header from Jake Caprice’s teasing cross.
The forward went closer still with 20 minutes remaining, when his flicked header flashed across the gaping goal and bounced to safety off the far post. The hosts reduced the deficit through former Premier League man McAnuff on 72 minutes. Dayton’s floated cross from the left was taken off the head of Bonne by Jordan Tunnicliffe but McAnuff was lurking at the back post to nod the ball home.
Orient were frantically searching for the equaliser and Matt Harrold thought he had scored it but his header was clawed off the line at the last second by Lynch.
Still on the hunt for a hat-trick, Rowe beat two men out on the right before seeing his left-footed strike blocked in the final moments.
The match was to end on a sour note for the Coasters when a loose touch from Muldoon forced Montrose into a desperate tackle and ultimately his second yellow card.
Even so, Fylde will head into Tuesday’s home clash against mid-table Gateshead with renewed confidence.
AFC Fylde: Lynch, Burke, Tunnicliffe, Grand, Francis-Angol, Montrose, Bond, McCready (Jones 69), Smith (Richards 45), Hardy (Muldoon 45), Rowe; Not used: Blinkhorn, Tasdemir, Jones.
Orient: Grainger, Caprice, Lawless (Boco 72), McAnuff, Bonne, Mooney (Harrold 54), Clay, Happe, Brophy, Dayton, Ellis; Not used: Sergeant, Sendles-White, Boco, Ochieng.
Ref: Simon Barrow
Attendance: 4,537 (93 away)