Crewe Alexandra 2-0 Leyton Orient
Sky Bet League Two
Leyton Orient slipped up on a cold Tuesday night, as the Railwaymen underlined their promotion credentials, thanks to Charlie Kirk’s early opener and Daniel Powell’s late clincher.
However, despite trailing so early, they put in a performance underlying their lowly league position and could feel aggrieved to see Conor Wilkinson’s second-half ‘goal’ disallowed.
On a bumpy surface, new signing, Ossueynou Cissé’s careless backpass took a bobble, leaving keeper, Sam Sargeant, in no man’s land and Kirk had the easy task of converting, albeit from an acute angle.
However, the O’s nearly levelled almost instantly, when Craig Clay capitalised on defensive uncertainty from Michael Nottingham, but his toe-poke landed inches wide.
Crewe then threatened to run amok and goalscorer, Kirk brought out an important, almost redeeming Sargeant save, before the academy product, Kirk, outpaced George Marsh and curled only inches wide.
Fancying his chances, again, Clay, on 18 minutes, made better connection and his fine effort was only inches off target, before Cisse went close.
Despite Kirk continually posing problems down the right flank, the east Londoners hit back and a fine 34th minute Ruel Sotiriou run and shot saw Will Jaaskelainen beat out his raking effort, with Wilkinson only able to sky over a difficult half chance.
Orient at least enjoyed some decent possession before the interval and Jaaskeleinen did well to thwart Wilkinson, on 44 minutes, before beating out skipper, Josh Wright’s curler.
Carrying on from where they left off, after the turnaround Wilkinson did finally have the ball in the Crewe net – only an assistant to flag for an infringement – a mysterious decision, which not even the Crewe defence complained about.
Orient continued to ask all the questions, but despite their possession football, they rarely troubled Jaaskeleinen, with only Jordan Maguire-Drew’s cross-cum-shot forcing the keeper into a 56th minute sprawling save.
Coach, Ross Embleton then made a double substitution, with heavyweights, Lee Angol and Matt Harrold playing out the last quarter – but to no avail – with Angol missing a presentable late opportunity.
And the O’s were then made to pay. With two minutes remaining Powell ran through, unchallenged and sealed the win.
Embleton said: “If anyone who has been here this evening, they will see we probably deserved to win the game, or certainly come out of it with something. One hundred per cent, I am never satisfied with a defeat.”
“But, we’ve put in a performance that’s one of the best I’ve seen all season – against a team at the top of the table and being a tough place to come to. But, I’m frustrated we didn’t come away from here with anything.”
Embleton added: “I couldn’t see anything wrong with the goal we had disallowed. I think if Conor Wilkinson had been anywhere else on the pitch, then nothing would have been awarded. If that goal had counted, I think we could have gone on and won the match.”
Orient travel to struggling Stevenage, this Saturday (kick-off 3pm), and Embleton concluded: “As with any next match, it’s the most important – as was Newport, last Saturday and Crewe, tonight. So, tomorrow morning, once we get off the coach all our efforts will be put in to preparing for Saturday – going to Stevenage and getting a positive result – especially – and bearing in mind the performance we put in this evening.”
“The competition for places is increasing – especially with Louis Dennis and Sam Ling back in training. And, any new faces I can bring in will give the squad a boost.”
Crewe Alexandra: Will Jaaskelainen, Perry Ng, Michael Nottingham, Luke Offord (Callum Ainley 84), Harry Pickering, Oliver Finney, Paul Green (Tom Lowery 70), Ryan Wintle (James Jones 74), Daniel Powell, Chuma Anene, Charlie Kirk. Subs (not used): Dave Richards (gk), Regan Griffiths, Owen Dale, Billy Sass-Davies.
Leyton Orient: Sam Sargeant, George Marsh (Matt Harrold 75), Marvin Ekpiteta, Dan Happe, James Brophy, Jordan Maguire-Drew, Craig Clay, Ossueynou Cissé (Lee Angol 71), Josh Wright, Ruel Sotiriou, Connor Wilkinson. Subs (not used): Joe Widdowson, Josh Coulson, Myles Judd, Lawrence Vigouroux (gk), Hector Kyprianou.
Referee: Leigh Doughty
Assistants: Richard Bartlett, David Hunt
Fourth Official: Andrew Dallison