Colchester too strong for Orient
Leyton Orient 1 Colchester United 3
Sky Bet League Two
Leyton Orient suffered the Boxing Day blues after John McGrill’s U’s closed in on the automotic promotion zone thanks to ‘loan ranger’, Theo Robinson’s double and a Harry Pell strike. Sub., Ruel Sotiriou bagged the O’s late consolation.
The O’s – with only one win in their last ten games – were always second-best and as early as two minutes Kwame Poku’s mazy run ended with a stinging drive, which Sam Sargeant did well to divert wide.
Apart from a brief spell of home pressure – on the 15 minute mark – with James Dayton going closest, the Orient goal continued to live a charmed life, with skipper, Pell seeing his 29th minute bullet header somehow blocked by George Marsh.
And, just as the O’s thought they had at least survived a torrid opening half, the Southend loan man, Robinson, guided Ryan Jackson’s driven cross high, into an empty net, to give the upwardly mobile Essex men a deserved lead, on the balance of play.
Straight after the turnaround, and despite brief Orient pressure, but without really testing the U’s rearguard, they broke and dangerman Poku rattled the Orient woodwork, on 50 minutes, with an angled drive.
Sargeant then dug the O’s out of the clawing mud with a fine, 55th minute save from Luke Gambin’s point-blank drive, following a Marvin Ekpiteta slip.
Shortly after seeing skipper, Josh Wright denied by the underworked Dean Gerken, Pell netted, on 64 minutes, after Sargeant could only parry Bramall’s drive – sending the 790 travelling supporters wild.
Late Orient substitutions at least saw them test the visiting defence, with Matt Harrold going agonizingly wide – twice – after Lee Angol had blasted a free-kick wide.
A rare Gerken lapse, on 82 minutes, then gave Jordan Maguire-Drew a half chance. However, from the acutest of angles, the schemer blazed high and wide.
A long, high ball, four minutes from time at least gave the O’s hope, with Harrold winning the header and put the ball on the plate for Sotiriou bag his début league goal.
Rare Colchester consternation saw the O’s sense an unlikely leveller, with Josh Wright going closest. But, leaving gaps at the back, that man Robinson proffited and rammed home a stoppage time clincher.
Leyton Orient Interim Head Coach, Ross Embleton, admitted: “We could have got ourselves back in the game – with the chances we created. The margins – ostensibly – today weren’t great. But, we gave away two sloppy goals. I could accept their third goal, as we had left ourselves a bit open at the back.”
He added: “It was very disappointing we didn’t get the result. But, there was very little negativity from the fans, at the end. I’m delighted – though – that the crowd stayed with us. We had given ourselves a chance at the end – with the chances we had created.”
Embleton concluded: “Colchester are a very good team. And, I expect them to be in and around the play-offs. They’ve got some very good players. And, with that element I thought they were a bit better than us. They out-fought us at times. That was the difference.”
Colchester boss, John McGreal added: “I’m delighted with the win. There weren’t that many mistakes – despite of the state of the pitch. But, we played some terrific stuff – in good areas. We need to continue getting bodies in the box and remain a goal threat.”
“And, our fans were excellent today, as this is always an intimidating atmosphere. Even though we were two-nil up – on a difficult surface – Orient had put a lot of crosses in our box. Eventually, one of those crosses was going to fall – and they got back in the match. But, I’m pleased Theo Robinson grabbed that third goal – he did so well playing off his marker’s shoulder.”
Matchwinner, Robinson, is uncertain of his immediate future: “I’ll sit down with the managers soon. I don’t care whom I’m playing for, just as long as I’m playing football.”
Orient hitman, Ruel Sotiriou added: “It’s a disappointing result. The way we conceded the goals wasn’t the best. We have it a go in the second half, but they caught us at the end.”
Leyton Orient: Sam Sargeant, Marvin Ekpiteta, Jamie Turley, Dan Happe (Ruel Sotiriou 72), Jordan Maguire-Drew, Craig Clay, George Marsh, James Dayton (Matt Harrold 60), Josh Wright (capt), James Brophy, Lee Angol. Subs (not used): Arthur Janata, Dale Gorman, Josh Coulson, Sam Ogie, Harry Kyprianou.
Colchester United: Dean Gerken, Ryan Jackson, Tom Eastman, Omar Sowunmi, Cohen Bramall, Kwame Poku (Frank Nouble 72), Harry Pell, Callum Harriott (Courtney Senior 83), Ben Stevenson, Luke Gambin (Tom Lapslie 78), Theo Robinson. Subs (not used): Ethan Ross, Luke Norris, Brandon Comley, Ollie Kensdale.
Referee: Nicholas Kinseley
Assistant Referees: Michael Webb & Marc Wilson
Fourth Official: Issac Searle