Red card change games well Portsmouth will know that all to well as Leyton Orient picked up their first win in six matches after a 3-2 win over in a late Christmas Cracker at Brisbane Road. A pulstating contest was turned on its head when Adam Webster was sent off for hauling down O’s winger Jobi McAnuff. Jay Simpson slotted home from the spot to bring Orient level after Connor Essam had put through his own net after 4 minutes.
Portsmouth were rattled after bring reduced to 10 men but it wasn’t until first half stoppage time that Orient edged ahead, Ollie Palmer glanced home a Cole Kpekawa ball forward. Orient were reduced to 10 men 7 minutes into the second half when Captain Mathieu Baudry was sent off for an alleged headbutt.
Palmer nodded home from a free kick to give Orient some breathing space but Portsmouth were flying forward. Evans pulled a goal back to make it a nervy ending for Orient who had to thank goalkeeper Alex Cisak who made some vital saves in the dying minutes.
Ian Hendon made 4 changes to the side that drew 1-1 at home to Yeovil last weekend. Ollie Palmer was recalled in place of Scott Kashket while Jobi McAnuff was handed a start following his goal last weekend. Connor Essam made his first start since the end of October after recovering from an ankle injury while Sean Clohessy had recovered from illness to start.
Portsmouth manager Paul Cook named an unchanged side after his sides late 2-1 victory at Northampton last week. Michael Doyle passed a late fitness while midfielder Gary Roberts made his return on the bench.
Orient who were without a win in 5 matches, started slowly with Portsmouth full of confidence. There was only one side looking to push forward and the away side took a deserved lead after 4 minutes. Good work down the left saw Kyle Bennett cut in on his right foot, his cross found Gareth Evans. Evans connected but his effort hit O’s defender Connor Essam and flew into the bottom corner.
The goal seemed to push Pompey on even more with Orient struggling to get near to them. Bennett, Evans and Lavery were finding big pockets of space and it was Bennett who created the next chance. The winger popped up inside but his shot was saved by Cisak who reacted quickly to keep out Caolan Lavery’s follow up header.
Portsmouth were all over the home side who were struggling to keep possession. The visiting side continued to press high up the pitch knowing the vulnerability the home side had at the back. The O’s were trying to create going forward but once again a lack of invention was causing problems however the game was turned on its head after 22 minutes.
Jobi McAnuff chased down a pass back to Pompey center half Adam Webster, his control was poor leaving McAnuff with an opportunity to pounce. McAnuff nipped in only to be hauled down, the referee had no option to point to the spot and sent Webster for a early bath. Jay Simpson slotted home the resulting penalty sending the keeper the wrong way for his 17th league goal of the season.
Adam Barton was brought on to fill in at the back while as Marc McNulty was withdrawn. The man advantage turned the game no end, Orient were now competing, challenging and looking a threat going forward. Portsmouth were on the ropes, trying to stem the O’s going forward. McAnuff went close for the hosts after popping up just outside the box but his effort was well saved by Brian Murphy.
Palmer and Simpson were beginning to show signs of a partnership, with Palmer bringing the ball into play and flicking on to his strike partner. It nearly paid dividends when Palmer’s knock down found Simpson in the box but League 2’s most prolific man was unable to get his shot away. Palmer was growing ever more poignant in the game and created a chance for himself 8 minutes before the break but after a neat turn his shot was straight at Murphy.
As the half entered stoppage time, Palmer pounced to put Orient ahead. A long ball forward from on loan QPR defender Cole Kpekawa found the front man in the box. Palmer glanced home beyond Murhpy and it was fair to say it was a long time coming for the former Mansfield man.
- It was Palmer’s first goal in 19 league matches, a run stretching back to the 18th August
Pompey manager Paul Cook knew his side had to go for it in the second half and pushed Bennett up alongside Caolan Lavery in attack as the visitors went to a 4-3-2 formation. However after 5 minutes of the second half Pompey were back in the game as Orient were reduced to 10 men. After reacting stupidly to a Michael Doyle challenge, O’s captain Mathieu Baudry decided to push his head towards Doyle. Referee Graham Horwood had no option to produce the red card.
Orient had been awarded a free kick for Doyle’s challenge and added a third through Palmer. Sean Clohessy floated the ball to the back post where Palmer was left unmarked to head home his second of the game. Unfortunately for the home side, now the sides were equal Portsmouth were right back in the contest with Orient becoming second best once more.
The game was swinging back and forth with home keeper Alex Cisak producing a fine save from a Gareth Evans header from a corner. Cook’s men were throwing everything forward in search of a second goal and grabbed it with 24 minutes left. Following a Jay Simpson shot, the away side pushed forward, Kyle Bennett found himself in acres of space in the middle of the pitch. Evans made a run behind the O’s backline off the shoulder of Connor Essam, Bennett’s delightful through ball found Evans who calmly slotted home.
Portsmouth sensed blood with Orient on the ropes and seeked an equaliser. However found Alex Cisak in inspired form as he pushed Ben Davies thunderbolt around the post for a corner. Cisak was keeping his side in the clash and again did brilliantly to push a cross off the head of Lavery but disappointingly for the 1400 away fans, Evans blazed over the rebound.
Hendon tried to prevent the siege on his sides goal and brought on Frazer Shaw for Jay Simpson as Orient moved to 4-4-1 with Palmer leading the line on his own. The change helped Orient stop some of the pressure on their goal and with the game entering the final minutes Hendon replaced McAnuff and Palmer for Blair Turgott and John Marquis. Portsmouth defender Matt Clarke was inches away from connecting with Ben Davies’s corner as Pompey seemed to know it wasn’t going to be their day.
The O’s really should have added a fourth in the 7 minutes of added time, Marquis pounced on a poor pass back and rounded Murphy. However Murphy saved Marquis’s initial effort onto the post before Marquis saw his second effort cleared off the line by Enda Stevens. However the last moment was left with Alex Cisak who saved once more after Evans connected with substitute Gary Roberts cross.
Well, where do you start analysing that game then? It is fair to say at the half way mark of the season, Portsmouth are by far the best side who Orient have faced in the league. Their was no competition when the numbers were equal on the pitch. Webster’s red card completely changed the complexion on the game. Let’s pull no punches if it was 11 vs 11 for 90 minutes yesterday, there was only one winner.
But, football is a funny old sport, dominating a game for 22 minutes until a bit of pressure turns the game on its head. After struggling against Yeovil last weekend, Orient found their rhythm against 10 men and deservedly went ahead. However Mathieu Baudry must be breathing a huge sigh of relief after his ridiculous reaction. After John Marquis got sent off against Wimbledon, it cost Orient the game, yesterday Baudry’s action came within a whisker of costing Orient the game. I hope the french man has brought his goal keeper a Christmas present because after the display from Cisak it saved Baudry’s blushes.
Orient conceded the first goal and won a game. The stats have been defied, it was Orient first win in 14 league matches after conceding the first goal in a game. In fact it was only Orient 2nd win in 25 league matches at home after conceding the first goal in a game. A turning point in the season according to assistant manager Andy Hessenhaler. Orient sit 9th just 1 point off the play offs, a position which most Orient fans would have taken at the start of the season. It doesn’t get much easy for Orient who travel to Bristol tomorrow to face 5th placed Rovers.
A morale boosting win which was only Orient 2nd win in 11 games against teams in the top half of the table. With January around the corner, will Bechetti fund Hendon in the transfer market? Well I think the the end part of the first half of the season has shown bodies are needed in the squad. Well we have all known that since the start of the season but with Orient poised on the brink of the play offs, is the time right to push on?
I think any team that finishes above Portsmouth will be playing League 1 football next year. Orient have the target but will they have enough to succeed in their aim? Well at the halfway stage, it is in their sights. Apart from Portsmouth, no side has been exceptional. Accrington were good on the day and Oxford good for 45 minutes, another game turned on a red card decision. Well either way, it doesn’t matter what Orient do, We never do anything easily.