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League One Exeter City 3 Leyton Orient 0

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Orient’s hopes of pulling away from the relegation places were left in tatters as they were comprehensively beaten by struggling Exeter City on Easter Monday.

The O’s remain just four points clear of the drop zone with four games to go, as Wycombe crashed 4-0 at Chesterfield, but Russell Slade’s side have now lost six of their last seven games.

It looks as if the relegation scrap will go right to the wire and with O’s having scored just three times in their last six games, it’s hard to see where the next win is coming from – especially as they travel to promotion-chasing Sheffield United on Saturday.

Any hopes Orient had of taking something at St James’ Park were blown away when Jake Taylor netted after just four minutes and then Liam Sercombe scored twice in a three-minute spell during the second half to end Orient’s tame resistance.

Slade was forced to make a couple of changes from the side that had lost 3-0 at home to Notts County on Good Friday.

Terrell Forbes was ruled out with a groin problem, so Syam Ben Youssef came in for only his second start, while Marc Laird returned in place of the injured Jimmy Smith.

Goalkeeper Paul Rachubka’s loan spell has been extended until the end of the season and he continued on the bench as Jamie Jones kept his place between the sticks.

But within minutes of the start the O’s keeper was picking the ball out of the net after

Alan Gow raced down the right and cut the ball back for Taylor to roll it into the net from close range.

The goal stunned the visitors and it was almost 10 minutes before they launched their first genuine attack asAdam Reed broke from midfield, but just failed to get on the end of Dean Cox’s pass.

As the half drifted by Orient failed to make an impression on the game as the home side enjoyed plenty of possession without looking dangerous themselves.

As Orient slowly started to get a toe-hold in the game the tide turned. David Mooney fired in an effort from long range that deflected off home defender Pat Baldwin for a corner and O’s went close to a leveller when Ben Youssef headed Cox’s flag kick just wide.

The game sprung into life Laird, back in the starting line-up, won possession in the Exeter box, but saw his effort deflected wide. Then both sides rattled the woodwork in quick succession.

Ben Youssef, always keen to get forward, saw his header knocked onto the bar by home defender Troy Archibald-Henville. Then the Grecians launched a counter attack and Taylor’s shot hit the foot of a post.

O’s finally discovered some belief and Mooney went close to a leveller, but headed a Cox cross just wide of the post, but the visitors went in at half-time a goal down and in serious trouble and things could have got worse four minutes into the second half when defender Dean Leacock looked to have clipped Taylor in the box, but referee Darren Sheldrake waved away the home side’s appeals.

Orient had penalty appeals of their own shortly afterwards when Archibald-Henville pulled back Reed on the edge of the box, but the official awarded the free-kick just outside the area and when Dickson’s free-kick was half-cleared Ben Youssef fired the rebound over.

Mooney could have headed the visitors on level terms, but he failed to beat keeper Artur Krysiak after Dickson’s throw was flicked on by Chorley.

If proved to be an expensive miss as 60 seconds later Jones tipped Gow’s long-range effort over, but O’s failed to clear David Noble’s corner and Liam Sercombe rifled the ball home from 15 yards.

Three minutes later it was game over as O’s conceded again. Gow was given too much time and space before setting up Sercombe to fire home again, as Orient conceded three for the third match running.

Calvin Andrew was thrown into the fray on 74 minutes, but quickly wasted a good opportunity when he fired wide from close range before Jamie Smith replaced Mooney five minutes from time for his O’s debut.

But by then the game was long gone and Orient will be looking desperately over their shoulders as a nerve-racking end to the season is assured.

Exeter City: Krysiak, Tully, Jones, Dunne, Archibald-Henville, Sercombe, Noble, Nardiello (Nicholls 80 mins), Baldwin, Taylor (Bauza 66 mins), Gow (McNish 80 mins). Subs: Pidgeley, Frear..

Exeter City Bookings: Archibald-Henville (56 mins)

Orient: Jones: Ben Youssef, Chorley, Leacock. Dickson; Spring; Mooney (Jamie Smith 85 mins), Reed, Laird (Porter 64 mins), Cox; Lisbie (Andrew 74 mins). Subs: Rachubka, Taiwo.

Orient bookings: Leacock (62 mins)

Referee: Darren Sheldrake

Attendance: 4,142 (inc 288 Orient fans)

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