Woeful Hartlepool United missed the chance to move four points clear of the relegation zone after they lost 2-1 to bottom-of-the-league Leyton Orient.
Rhys Oates had given Pools an early lead at Brisbane Road, but Orient – who would have been relegated if Pools had won – responded with two first half goals through Victor Adeboyejo and Tristan Abrahams. To compound matters, Liam Donnelly was sent off in the closing minutes for squaring up to the referee.
Only Newport County’s 6-1 hammering at Plymouth Argyle keeps Pools out of the bottom two although they go into Saturday’s penultimate home game against Barnet just a point and position above the Welsh club.
Carl Magnay started his first game for Pools since injuring his knee in September, while Orient fielded eight youth team players.
Despite starting the brighter of the teams, Liam Kelly and Victor Adeboyejo both testing goalkeeper Joe Fryer, Pools took the lead on eight minutes.
A long ball from deep fooled Teddy Mezague and with several defenders around him, Oates kept his composure and patience and slotted beyond Sam Sargeant from close range.
Ten minutes later, though, and the hosts levelled. Michael Clark turned Donnelly with ease on the right and he squared for Adeboyejo who toed the ball past Fryer.
Lewis Alessandra squandered a chance from 10 yards for the visitors after being played in by Padraig Amond on 22 minutes, while Orient kept coming, pressing a dispirited Pools back and exploiting space between the hapless Scott Harrison and Donnelly with frequent long balls.
Adeboyejo missed two efforts in quick succession, but on 35 minutes Terry Abraham hit a thunderous shot from 18 yards into the roof of the net.
Nathan Thomas’s low curling shot was held by Sargeant, before Henry Ochieng tried his luck for Orient with a rasping effort from 25 yards.
Half time: Leyton Orient 2-1 Hartlepool United.
Pools were the better side after the break, inspired by Michael Woods who replaced the anonymous Nicky Deverdics.
Thomas had a looping header from distance drift wide, while Nicky Featherstone dragged a shot from a corner even further wider of the goalpost.
Fryer was counted on to deny Abrahams a second with a great save to keep out the striker.
Shortly after having his own attempt blocked, Thomas delivered a wonderful cross but the ball zipped past Oates face and Amond was unable to make connection at the far post.
On 90 minutes Oates missed a chance to level when he fluffed a chance five yards from goal.
Seconds later, Donnelly chased after the referee Dean Whitestone, got carded, and then squared up face-to-face with the official before receiving a second yellow in a display of total embarrassment to round off a dreadful day for Pools in London.
Full time: Leyton Orient 2-1 Hartlepool United.
Leyton Orient: Sargeant, Pollock, Mezague, Clark; Ochieng, Kelly, Collins, Semedo; Abrahams (Moncur, 85), Adeboyejo (Koroma, 76), Alzate (McCallum, 71)
Subs not used: Janata, Happe, Janse, Dalby
Pools: Fryer, Magnay, Harrison, Walker, Donnelly; Featherstone (Rooney, 84), Deverdics (Woods, 46), Alessandra; Thomas, Amond (Rodney, 72), Oates
Subs not used: Dudzinski, Bates, Hawkins, Blackford
Attendance: 5411(351 Pools)