Crawley Town 0 Leyton Orient 2
Leyton Orient added to their impressive points tally, under Richie Wellens’ charge after a controversial win at The People’s Pension Stadium in West Sussex, on Saturday.
Theo Archibald fired them ahead early doors, before the hosts’ James Tilley’s late strike appeared to have crossed the line. But, Aaron Drinan rubbed salt into Crawley’s wounds by hitting the winner after the referee had waved ‘play-on’.
Making an excellent start to this dead rubber, the visitors, having caused problems with their high press, Archibald sprang the offside trap, and his fine chip from the edge of the ‘D’ took one bounce and landed into an empty net.
Paul Smyth then won a debatable penalty on 18 minutes, when Ludwig Francillette appeared to make a perfectly good challenge.
However, arguably justice was done, as former Orient stopper Glenn Morris, easily saved Drinan’s weak spot kick.
Wellens would have been more frustrated than The Red Devil’s stand-in boss, Lewis Young, going in at the break.
Apart from Drinan’s lamentable spot-kick gaffe, Archibald and Smyth wasted excellent chances to put the tie out of sight.
Predictably, the east Londoners were under the cosh for the majority of the second period.
But keeper Lawrence Vigouroux was rarely tested – only having to tip over sub, Aramide Oteh’s fine 89th minute free-kick.
In the second minute of stoppage time Tilley’s fine drive appeared to cross the Orient goal line. But, with the assistant referee not directly in line with play, referee, Paul Howard waved ‘play on’ – much to the anger of the home crowd – already incensed by the suspension of manager John Yems.
Having defended doggedly for almost 45 minutes, the 0’s got their reward when Drinan broke clear and netted a long-awaited clincher, curling past the diving Morris, on 95 minutes.
A relieved Wellens admitted: “We should have had six or seven goals in the first-half. But, that’s football and no two halves will ever be the same.”
He explained: “You have to understand that after a first half of total domination, the game is going to change. The opposition didn’t change the game. It was us. We didn’t get our press and spaces right in the second-half.”
Wellens added: “For Aaron to be scoring at the end – having only seconds before been clean through – was good. And, it was obviously pleasing for supporters”.
Orient entertain Tranmere Rovers on Saturday (kick-off 3pm) and Wellens concluded: “I just want the season to end, as there were some tired bodies, out there today. They all deserve a break and we go again, close-season.”
Debutant, Zech Obiero, revealed: “I was so nervous before kick-off. But, everyone helped me through the game – but I was blowing in the second-half. It was a massive three points for us today.”
Stand-in Crawley boss Young said: “That moment [the disallowed goal] aside, it was wall-to-wall pressure in second-half. But, the halves were polar opposites – as we hadn’t done ourselves justice in the opening half.”
Crawley Town: Glenn Morris, George Francomb (capt), Jordan Tunnicliffe (Archie Davies 45), Ludwig Francillette, Joel Lynch (Tony Craig 42), Will Ferry, Isaac Hutchinson (Aramide Oteh 77), Jake Hessenthaler, Ashley Nadesan, Tom Nichols. Subs (not used): Taylor Seymour, Owen Gallagher, Mark Marshall.
Leyton Orient: Lawrence Vigouroux, Jordan Brown, Omar Beckles, Alex Mitchell, Connor Wood, Theo Archibald, Hector Kyprianou, Otis Khan (Dan Nkrumah 73), Zech Obiero (Ethan Coleman 61), Paul Smyth (Matt Young 77: Aaron Drinan. Subs (not used): Sam Sargeant, Jayden Sweeney, Reon Smith Kouassi.
Referee: Paul Howard
Assistants: Stephen Brown, Simon Shaw
Fourth Official: Marc Wilson