Leyton Orient 5 Hartlepool United 0
Kenny Jackett’s O’s ended their mini slump and goal drought, on Saturday, with a five-star display, as their promotion-seeking visitors were totally outclassed.
An Aaron Drinan hat-trick, with Harry Smith and Tom James strikes saw the hosts home to their first win since mid-September.
However, the clash was overshadowed by referee, Alan Young, taking the players off 20 seconds before the end of regulation first half time and thus needing to play the added time after the players had enjoyed their half-time cuppa.
After a slow start, with Hartlepool enjoying too much possession in the Orient half, and David Ferguson’s free-kick only just clearing Lawrence Vigoroux’s crossbar, a fine move, started by Dan Kemp, saw Craig Clay’s clever 21st minute pass feed Smith, who put it on a plate for Drinan to fire past a helpless Jonathan Mitchell.
The O’s then doubled their lead, on 34 minutes, when Smith profitted from Hartlepool defensive indecision and Drinan returned the favour, with a weighted pass, for the East Londoner’s hitman to coolly slot past keeper Mitchell.
Due to Orient’s Shad Ogie needing prolonged treatment after only three minutes, in that added time Smith was unfortunate to see a third goal ruled out for offside.
After the ‘proper’ turnaround, the overlapping James added a third with a simple tap-in, on 51 minutes, as Pools’ defence was becoming increasingly overrun.
Having seen Pools’ Gavan Holohan at last test the embarrassingly underworked Vigoroux, Drinan’s sublime 79th minute chip equalled the 0’s biggest win since their early season Exeter mauling.
However, the O’s weren’t finished and when Smith’s stoppage time header had hit a post, Drinan’s simple tap-in completed a well-deserved hat-trick.
Assistant boss, Joe Gallen said: “It was a very pleasing win, as we hadn’t scored too many goals recently. And, that first goal gave us the confidence to go on and win the game. Any first goal in a game is huge.”
Gallen admitted: “At times we had been making the wrong decision and overthinking things in the final third – that’s a confidence issue. But, five goals today will give everyone a lift.”
The former QPR hitman added: “It’s all part of a ‘process’ – winning games – but if we want to get in that top three, we’ve got to keep putting the ball in the back of the net.”
Regarding the referee’s strange time-keeping decision, Gallen said: “You’d better ask the referee. 0verall, he made a mistake. We all make them. He was good enough to own up to it.”
Orient take on National League Ebbsfleet, in the FA Cup first round, this Saturday (kick-off 3pm), and Gallen concluded: “We want to win, play well and get on a winning run.”
Three-goal Drinan said: “By the way we had been playing, a win was coming. And, it was a deserved win and credit to us for our pressing and not giving Hartlepool any time on the ball.”
Leyton Orient: Lawrence Vigouroux, Tom James, Omar Beckles, Alex Mitchell, Shad Ogie, Theo Archibald, Darren Pratley (capt) (Hector Kyprianou 46), Dan Kemp (Dan Happe 84), Harry Smith, Aaron Drinan. Subs: Rhys Byrne, Connor Wood, Callum Reilly, Tyrese Omotoye, Ruel Sotirou.
Walsall: Jonathan Mitchell, Reagan Ogle (Mark Shelton 52), Luke Hendrie, Gary Liddell, Zaine-Francis Angol (Mike Fondop 46), David Ferguson, Nicky Featherstone (capt), Gavan Holohan, Matty Daly, Luke Molyneux, Mark Cullen. Subs: Ben Killip, Timi Odusin, Joe Grey, Eddy Jones, Tom Crawford.
Referee: Alan Young
Assistant Referees: Geoffrey Russell, James Wallace
Fourth Official: Samuel Ogles