RUBEN Rodrigues netted a double as managerless Oxford United edged a thriller away at Leyton Orient.

The Portuguese midfielder opened the scoring with a low drive, while Billy Bodin doubled the lead before half-time with a diving header.

Rodrigues added United’s third just after the break, however a Fin Stevens own goal and Ruel Sotiriou strike ensured it was a nervy final 25 minutes for the U’s in their first league game since Liam Manning left for Bristol City.

Interim boss Craig Short made eight changes to the side which won 5-0 against Chelsea Under-21s in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday night, with just James Beadle, Ciaron Brown and Stevens maintaining their place in the starting line-up.

Elliott Moore had the first sniff of goal when he nodded Cameron Brannagan’s clipped corner into the gloves of Sol Brynn, while at the other end, Ruel Sotiriou headed over from a left-wing cross.

Joe Pigott then played the ball off Moore for a corner, which was cleared off the line by the U’s.

The chances continued to flow in the opening exchanges, as Stan Mills sent a low effort narrowly wide, with referee Christoper Pollard signalling for a corner.

From the set piece, the ball bobbled around the O’s penalty area, and Ed Turns produced an outstanding block to deny a combination of Greg Leigh and Moore.

The home side’s delivery from corners caused United problems though, and Beadle did well to fist away a wicked set piece from inside his six-yard box after 25 minutes.

Sotiriou was then inches away from connecting with a dangerous cross from the right-hand side, before Mark Harris was guilty of a double miss.

Rodrigues split the home defence open to find Mills down the right. The Everton loanee crossed for Harris, however the Welsh striker was denied from close range by Brynn, and from the rebound, Harris slammed the post from just a few yards out.

Four minutes later, the U’s opened the scoring through a classy Rodrigues strike.

Brynn passed the ball straight to Harris on the edge of the penalty area, with United’s No 9 picking out Rodrigues, who rifled home with a right-footed effort from 20 yards.

Theo Archibald sliced a 25-yard half-volley over the crossbar, while Moore made a brilliant interception to stop a through ball reaching Sotiriou.

As half-time approached, the ball dropped to Jordan Brown in the area, however he made poor contact and his effort drifted harmlessly wide.

Three minutes of stoppage time were added, and in it, United doubled their advantage.

Rodrigues struck the post from 20 yards, however Bodin tracked the rebound and netted with a diving header inside the six-yard box.

The second half carved up two goals within the opening three minutes.

First, Harris was thwarted twice inside the box during a goalmouth scramble, but Rodrigues was on hand to fire home for his brace.

Straight away at the other end, the U’s failed to deal with a high cross from the right, and the ball bounced off the unfortunate Stevens and into the back of Beadle’s net.

The action continued as Harris beat the offside trap and was unlucky to see his lobbed effort from outside the box crash onto the crossbar and over for a goal kick.

Moore then conceded a free kick 30 yards out, however Pigott hit the central set piece over the angle of the bar and post.

Orient pulled themselves back to within a goal when a left-wing cross found Sotiriou in space at the back post, with the forward smashing the ball beyond a helpless Beadle.

Dan Happe then headed against the post as the noise at Brisbane Road ramped up.

Short and the U’s coaching staff reacted by making a double change, as Stephan Negru and Tyler Goodrham replaced Mills and Bodin respectively.

It meant United switched to a back three, with Negru on the right of it, and Stevens and Leigh pushed up to wing back. Goodrham slotted in with Rodrigues behind Harris up front.

Orient kept coming though, and Tom James volleyed over when the ball fell to him just outside the box, while substitute Shaq Forde headed over as five minutes of injury time were signalled.

United held on though to keep up the pressure at the top of Sky Bet League One ahead of the international break.

Leyton Orient (3-4-2-1): Brynn; Cooper, Happe, Turns (Galbraith 71); James, Brown (Pratley 71), El Mizouni (Sanders 84), Archibald; Sotiriou, Pigott; Drinan (Forde 84).

Unused subs: Howes, Moncur, Hunt.

Booked: Brown, Pratley.

Oxford United (4-2-3-1): Beadle; Stevens, Moore, Brown, Leigh; McGuane, Brannagan; Mills (Negru 68), Rodrigues, Bodin (Goodrham 68); Harris (O’Donkor 84).

Unused subs: Eastwood, Thorniley, McEachran, Murphy.

Booked: Harris, Moore.

Referee: Christopher Pollard (Suffolk)

Attendance: 8,614 (1,258 away).