Bradley Pritchard’s second-half strike was enough to condemn the Cobblers to a 1-0 defeat in their final Sixfields pre-season friendly of the summer.
The Orient winger scored in the 59th-minute to secure a deserved win for the visitors, but there were some encourgaing signs for the Cobblers as well.
Town passed the ball well at times, and for the most part were defensively solid against a very good Orient side, but they did lack a real cutting egde in attack, with Orient goalkeeper Adam Legzdins only having to make one save in the entire match.
The Cobblers made one change to the team that started against Sheffield United in midweek, with Ben Tozer coming in at right-back, with Danney Alfei missing out through illness.
With the sun shining and the temperatures touching 30 degrees, this was always going to be a tough afternoon for the players on both sides, and the game started a steady pace.
The first sniff of goal came on eight minutes when Orient’s Dean Cox fired a snapshot volley over from 12 yards following miss-kicks in the penalty area by both Lee Collins and Ben Tozer.
Both sides were content to try and keep possession, and chances were at a premium.
The Cobblers did build up a bit of pressure midway through the half, and from one of a string of corners won, John-Joe O’Toole headed a Darren Carter’s cross over the top.
As the half came to a close, Orient began to up the tempo, and on 33 minutes they brought the first save of the match out of Matt Duke, who did well to get down and palm David Mooney’s low near-post shot round the post.
Four minutes later Duke was once more called into action, again saving at his near post, this time from Chris Dagnall who found himself in space on the left side of the Cobblers penalty area after a nice interchange with Cox,
At the other end, Town were piecing together some encouraging attacking play of their own, with Kaid Mohamed and Chris Hackett impressing, and there was a nice one-two between O’Toole and Marc Richards that ended with Richards firing his left foot shot high and wide.
He had more time than he realised.
The last action of the first-half saw Cox fire a drive just over the top, and the half ended goalless.
The Londoners were a whisker away from taking the lead at the start of the second half, with Mathieu Baudry’s header from a right-wing free-kick shaving the top of the crossbar.
The Cobblers had introduced Ivan Toney at half-time for Richards to try and pep up their attack, but still Orient goalkeeper Legzdins was having an afternoon of inactivity.
The deadlock was finally broken on 59 minutes, and it was no surprise it was the visitors who took the lead.
Cox clipped a lovely ball into Dagnall on the right side of the penalty area, and he held the ball up before laying it into the path of Pritchard whose run inside fron the right wing wasn’t tracked.
The Orient man had plenty of time and space in the Town area to pick his spot, and he did, curling a left foot shot past Duke and in on off the far post.
Town resorted to a more direct style as the match wore on, with the combination play of the first period disappearing, but they were getting no joy against a strong Orient side.
The visitors should have extended their lead on 73 minutes, but Dagnall shot across goal and wide, and Duke then did brilliantly to race off his line and tackle Dagnall just outside his penalty area following a short backpass from Collins.
The Cobblers did at least force Legzdins into a save on 77 minutes, Toney leaping well and heading powerfully towards goal, but it was straight at the Orient goalkeeper and he caught the ball easily.
Town battled gamely to try and get an equaliser, but they could create nothing clear-cut, and it ended 1-0.
Cobblers: Duke, Tozer, Diamond, Collins, Robertson (70m, Horwood), Hackett (62m, Sinclair), Ravenhill, Carter, Mohamed, O’Toole, Richards (46m, Toney), Subs not used: Horwood, Langmead, Snedker, Nicholls, Moyo, Roberts.
Leyton Orient: Legzdins, Sawyer, Vincelot, Cuthbert (46m, James), Baudry (54m, Omozusi), Cox, Mooney (62m, Batt), Clarke (72m, Okosun), Pritchard, Bartley (62m, Lisbie), Dagnall (86, Kashket).
Referee: Dean Whitestone
Goals: 59 mins: 0-1, Pritchard
Leyton Orient fans: 142