PATIENCE paid off as Town hit four without reply for the second home match in a row.
Lee Clark’s men were forced to bide their time by the stubborn Londoners, finally making the breakthrough with Gary Roberts’ neatly-placed shot in first-half stoppage time – their seventh effort on target.
The winger then turned provider, having a hand in all the second-half goals as Town underlined their superiority with a trio of headers.
Centre-back Nathan Clarke, midfielder Michael Collins and striker and top scorer Jordan Rhodes, with his 12th of the campaign, were the names on the scoresheet as Town took their League I goals tally to 28 – an average of two a match and the highest in the division – and their goal difference to 12, bettered only by third-placed Colchester (14) and leaders Leeds (13).
The figure, of course, was helped by a fourth successive home clean sheet, and Clark will have been delighted with a defensive effort well marshalled by skipper Peter Clarke, who made a crucial 19th-minute block from Jimmy Smith’s low shot and a key 25th-minute tackle on Andros Townsend as the on-loan Tottenham man romped in.
Townsend looked lively throughout, and Town had to be wary of Orient’s ability to counter-attack, but Glenn Morris was by far the busier of the two goalkeepers.
The 25-year-old made the first of five good saves (before he was finally beaten) in only the fourth minute as Town made their attacking intentions clear.
Rhodes’ diving header from winger Anthony Pilkington’s fourth-minute free-kick was blocked and hacked away before Robbie Williams shot wide.
Then Roberts, operating on the right early on, tested Morris with a sixth-minute dipper before Antony Kay’s 15th-minute header from Nathan Clarke’s long throw was held just under the bar.
Centre-back Ben Chorley headed over in Orient’s first attack in the 18th minute, then Peter Clarke denied Smith with that vital block before Roberts sliced through the visitors’ defence and looked certain to shoot, only to square the ball and let the Londoners off the hook.
Four minutes later, Roberts stung Morris’s fingers as he tried his luck from distance, and while Ryan Jarvis headed wide on 26 minutes and Townsend had an angled shot saved by Smithies on 34, it was Town doing the bulk of the attacking.
Peter Clarke couldn’t quite connect with Roberts’ cross in the 27th minute while in the 33rd, Roberts again tested Morris with a firm shot from the persistent Lee Novak’s pull-back.
There was controversy in the 43rd minute, when referee Peter Quinn failed to play a clear advantage as Rhodes charged down the right after Collins was fouled, but the Cleveland official’s blunder was made less telling when Roberts shot home after Rhodes headed on Pilkington’s delivery.Related content
It was just the tonic Town needed, and after Orient survived a penalty appeal when Scott McGleish seemed to push away Pilkington’s corner with his hands, they were punished from the subsequent flag kick, flighted in by Roberts for Nathan Clarke to head his second of the season.
Smithies held Smith’s 59th-minute shot while Orient substitute James Scowcroft looked a little fortunate to see yellow rather than red after catching Peter Clarke with a flailing arm, before Collins made it 3-0 in the 74th minute, heading his second of the campaign from another pin-point Roberts ball.
Theo Robinson scooped a 78th-minute effort over while fellow substitute Lionel Ainsworth was denied a first Town goal by another solid Morris save before Rhodes finally made it four, finishing ruthlessly after Robinson headed on a centre by Pilkington, who had been set up by Roberts’ short corner.
Morris prevented Town going nap by blocking Ainsworth’s stoppage-time shot, but few were complaining about the final scoreline!