SECOND-HALF goals from midfielder Gareth Stoker and central defender Dean Smith pierced Orient's usually cast-iron defence for a victory which hoisted Hereford five places up the table to 12th in the Third Division.

Orient arrived at Edgar Street having conceded just eight goals in 13 league games and they demonstrated their defensive credentials until the 61st minute when Stoker broke the deadlock.

Gary Cook gave Adrian Foster possession on the left-wing and he neatly rounded a defender before crossing to the far post where Stoker stole in behind Orient's rearguard to slot a ground shot past keeper Peter Caldwell from close range.

Twenty-two minutes later Caldwell, who replaced Leyton's injured veteran goalkeeper Les Sealey, was beaten again. This time Stoker was the goal-maker. He slanted a free-kick from the left flank for Smith to rise above a crowd of players to head home for his sixth goal of the campaign.

Experienced new signings Nicky Law and Trevor Matthewson made their home debuts and their presence added physical strength and know-how to a United defence which kept a blank sheet for the second successive game.

A delighted United director of football Graham Turner said: ''It was probably as good a performance as we have given this season. Unlike other matches in which we have taken the lead and then dropped back and given our opponents the initiative, this time we continued to press forward and score that vital second goal.''

United controlled the first-half exchanges for long periods, forcing nine corners. But the closest they came to scoring was in the 13th minute when Matthewson's header was cleared off the line by Martin Ling. Law and Smith then went close with headers following flag-kicks.

With half-time looming, Orient embarked on a couple of breakaway raids in which David Hanson and Ling shot wide from good positions.

At the start of the second period the Londoners continued to look adventurous and Joe Baker should have put them in front. The dangerous Hanson created a perfect scoring chance for him but, from a range of about 10 yards, he lofted his shot over the bar.

There was only one booking Hereford's Micky Forsyth who received a yellow card for a first-half foul on Baker.

Hereford: DeBont, Norton, Law, Smith, Matthewson, Forsyth, Cook, Stoker, Hargreaves, Adrian Foster, Brough (Preedy 86 min). Subs not used: Hibbard, Warner.

Attendance: 2,625.