IF Bury do go down – and that looks ever more likely – then they will be kicking themselves all the way into League Two.
Results elsewhere over the past few weeks have played into the Shakers’ hands, but errant finishing and lax defending have meant they have been unable to grasp the opportunity to close the gap on the relegation pack.
The same frustrating scenario of recent dropped points against Crewe, Colchester and Portsmouth was once again played out at Brisbane Road, but this time to comic proportions.
Laughable misses and Keystone Cops defending on this April Fool’s Day clash saw Bury finish the opening quarter of an hour 1-0 down when they could easily have been 3-0 up.
Tom Soares had Bury’s first effort on goal, bursting into the box with barely a minute on the clock, but his two shots were both blocked.
Just seconds later, Nicky Ajose inexplicably missed an open goal from less than six yards out, skewing Andy Bishop’s low cross just wide of the post.
And Orient’s Jimmy Smith punished them in the ninth minute, turning in the box to fire into the top corner after the Shakers defence failed to deal with a Lee Cook corner.
Frustrated, but undaunted, Bury continued to open up Russell Slade’s play-off chasers, but this time Bishop was the guilty party, heading over a floated Soares cross when completely unmarked on the penalty spot.
Bury’s bad day got worse as the half wore on, with the defence starting to look just as shaky as the forwards’ finishing.
And when goalkeeper Cameron Belford dropped a high, looping cross under pressure from Smith, David Mooney was on hand to tap in the loose ball for Orient’s second on 34 minutes.
The joke was definitely on Bury as the striker was clearly offside, but the assistant kept his flag down, despite protests from David Worrall.
The winger-cum-left-back had just made two fantastic blocks to deny Orient and his sense of injustice boiled over as he talked his way to a yellow card.
Bury’s errant finishing continued in the second half, with Bishop heading a fantastic Mark Carrington cross straight at Orient keeper Jamie Jones from close range.
And when captain Steven Schumacher skied a volley from a good position in the box and then fired just over from 20 yards, the comeback looked unlikely.
Things could have got worse for Kevin Blackwell’s side in the closing stages, but for a superb Worrall clearance from under his own bar and an instinctive save from Belford.
But that was scant consolation for the Shakers manager, who clearly sensed his team had taken another significant step towards the League One trapdoor.
“I can’t offer any explanation for our missed chances,” said Blackwell.
“We’ve come to Orient – a decent side who are playing well – and we’ve put them to the sword, but haven’t finished them off.
“It’s the same story every week – both boxes.
“I’ve said it time and time again. If you miss chances like that you can’t win games, it’s as simple as that.”
LEYTON ORIENT: J Jones; Odubajo, Baudry (Omozusi 12, McSweeney 73), Clarke, Sawyer; Cox, Smith, James, Cook (Batt 45); MacDonald, Mooney.
Not used: Vincelot, Lisbie, Grainger, Rowlands, BURY: Belford 5; Ebanks-Landell 5, Sodje 5 (Mezague 63 6), Eastham 5, Worrall 7; Ajose 5 (Clarke-Harris 6 67), Carrington 7, Schumacher 6, Soares 6; Fagan 6, Bishop 5.
Not used: Carson, Healy, Thompson.
Referee: Andy Woolmer.
Attendance: 3,713 (152 visiting).