Southend United snatched a narrow 1-0 victory in the EFL Checkatrade Trophy over Leyton Orient at Roots Hall.
Marco Antoine-Fortune grabbed the only goal of the night late on in the second half, to top the Southern Group G and secure their place in the knockout stages with the final group match still to play.
Alberto Cavasin’s first game in charge saw six changes to the side that drew 0-0 in league action away at Barnet at the weekend under Andy Edwards.
Phil Brown also made six changes to his side that drew 1-1 against Peterborough.
Orient’s had the first hint at goal, as Ulrich Nnomo went passed the Southend midfield and unleashed a shot which went well over.
A dangerous free-kick from the O’s fell to Tom Parkes whose shot was miss timed due to Captain Robbie Weir also going for the ball.
Southend had their first real opportunity of the match 25 minutes in, as Luke O’Neill drilled shot from outside the box went wide of the target.
Ben Coker’s free-kick was won by the aerial threat of centre-back Ryan Inniss, which was comfortable for Sam Sargeant.
Southend had a great chance to take the lead, as Simon Cox cut in from the left hand side and his snap shot was stopped by Sargeant but came out only to Ryan Leonard whose strike hit the side netting.
In the second half, the O’s made a double substitution as Jens Janse and Alan Dunne replaced Gavin Massey and Parkes.
Newly introduced Janse’s cross was met by a brilliant leap from Nnomo but his header went just over the bar.
Orient nearly took the lead, as Janse burst into the space on the right flank he then squared it to Jordan Bowery whose curling effort was parried by Mark Oxley.
A great move by Orient could not be converted, as Janse slotted in Dunne who whipped in a first time ball to the far post for Nnomo to head unmarked into the side netting.
Southend then took advantage of the visitors missed chances and took the lead with just seven minutes remaining, as Cox played the ball into Antoine-Fortune’s path he fended off his marker, cut back inside and bent his shot into the far corner.
Orient will now need at least a point in their final group match away at Brighton U23’s on Tuesday 8th November if they are to qualify for the knockout stages, after Brighton and Stevenage both drew however Brighton took the bonus point after the penalty shootout victory.
Cavasin’s team will now turn back to league action with a tough home encounter against Portsmouth at the weekend.
Leyton Orient Lineup: 24 Sam Sargeant, 16 Nicky Hunt, 25 Aaron Pollock, 6 Tom Parkes (45), 3 Callum Kennedy, 11 Gavin Massey (45), 8 Robbie Weir © (87), 4 Liam Kelly, 18 Ulrich Nnomo, 21 Jordan Bowery, 9 Ollie Palmer
Substitutes: 1 Alex Cisak, 5 Alan Dunne (45), 46 Jens Janse (45), 33 Zan Beneficic, 31 Steven Alzate, 27 Jay Simpson (87)
Southend United Lineup: 1 Mark Oxley, 2 John White, 33 Ryan Inniss, 5 Adam Thompson, 3 Ben Coker, 7 Luke O’Neill (82), 16 Adam King (59), 18 Ryan Leonard, 4 Anthony Wordsworth (58), 10 Simon Cox, 14 Marco Antoine-Fortune
Substitutes: 22 Ted Smith, 27 Harry Kyprianou, 15 Jakub Sokolik, 12 Will Atkinson (59), 11 Stephen McLaughlin (58), 19 Jack Bridge (82), 9 David Mooney
Attendance: 2,383 (413)