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Leyton Orient 2 Crawley Town 3
Leyton Orient’s defensive frailties were cruelly exposed this afternoon with the Red Devils coming from behind to grab all three points.
Lee Angol’s second-half penalty appeared to have set the O’s on the way to a comfortable victory.
Josh Wright had spectacularly fired the O’s in front, before the break, before Nathan Ferguson levelled.
But, old boy, Ollie Palmer, a second-half sub, returned to haunt his former employers with two goals in as many minutes.
With the home support full of optimism, the O’s Conor Wilkinson and Lee Angol wasted good, early opportunities.
The east Londoners finally got their noses in front on 22 minutes. Good Jordan Maguire-Drew approach play freed-up Wright, who beat one-time Orient first-choice keeper, Glenn Morris, with a 25-yard rising drive.
Crawley – who had enjoyed some pressure themselves – with Ashley Nadesan particularly impressive – took all of seven minutes to level. The O’s just couldn’t clear their lines from Bez Kubala’s flag-kick, and following a goalmouth scramble, Ferguson netted.
Both sides continued to trade blows, with Wilkinson going closest – on the stroke of half-time – gliding a header over from the always-dangerous James Brophy.
As per the opening period, the O’s dominated and regained the lead on 53 minutes, after Maguire-Drew had been tripped on the edge of the penalty area. Angol duly obliged from 12 yards, despite Morris’s best efforts.
Orient continued to dominate, but a defensive slip allowed the visitors a foothold, gaining a flag-kick on 69 minutes. Orient had chances to clear Josh Doherty’s kick, but an unchallenged Palmer netted with an angled-drive.
Barely two minutes later Palmer – again in acres of space – tapped home from a couple of yards out, from a Reece Grego-Cox pass, following a Marvin Ektipeta slip.
With the game completely turned on its head, bizarrely Palmer almost claimed a six-minute hat-trick, but his curling effort flew inches wide.
Orient never recovered from this double setback and will have to defend better when they travel to fellow league newcomers, Salford City, this Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Interim Orient boss, Ross Embleton, admitted: “Defensively, as a team, we’re finding out what the league is like. We found out that we need to be more ruthless in our own penalty area. However, when you score two goals at home, you don’t expect to lose.”
He added: “Performance-wise, today, we were ‘okay’. I felt the game was there to be won, but our naïevity let us down. The most frustrating thing is that Crawley didn’t create that many chances.”
Already five games into the new league campaign, Embleton concluded: “After the summer that we had and the changes that the Club has undergone, it’s important to have some stability about the place. I’ve said all along, it’s not about not setting our expectations too high. I’ve got a good squad of players. It’s now about showing some consistency after the step-up [league-wise].”
Dean Brill said: “The two sucker punches [Palmer’s goals] ‘killed’ us. It’s frustrating, as these are the first goals we have conceded at home. And [more so] no one has really cut us open yet.”
Brill concluded: “The goals came from second or third phases – situations when we’ve got to make challenges in the box. And, the fact that we scored twice, we would have expected to win.”
Leyton Orient: Dean Brill, Sam Ling (Myles Judd 35), Marvin Ekpiteta, Josh Coulson (capt), Craig Clay (Dale Gorman 78) Conor Wilkinson, Jordan Maguire-Drew (James Alabi 73), James Brophy, Louis Dennis, Lee Angol, Josh Wright. Subs: Sam Sargeant, Dan Happe, Matt Harrold, George Marsh.
Crawley Town: Glenn Morris, Josh Doherty, Tom Dallison, Reece Grego-Cox, Ashley Nadesan (Ollie Palmer 58), Nathan Ferguson, Jordan Tunnicliffe, Dan Bulman, Josh Cogley, Panutche Camara, Bez Lubala, Subs: Michael Luyambul, Ollie Palmer, George Francomb, Ashley Nathaniel-George, David Sesay, Filipe Morias, Brian Galach.
Referee: Brett Huxtable
Assistants: Nicholas Cooper, Paul Yates
Fourth Assistant: Oliver Jackson