O’s held by dogged Barrow

Leyton Orient v Barrow AFC – Sky Bet League Two – Brisbane Road – Report

Leyton Orient 0-0 Barrow AFC

Despite being held to a goalless draw by Barrow at Brisbane Road and finishing with ten men after Tom James was sent off after receiving two yellow cards in stoppage time at the end of the match, Leyton Orient maintained their five-point lead over Stevenage at the top of League Two in a game that was both entertaining and captivating and in no way reflective of the final score line. 

With Theo Archibald and Aaron Drinan both injured, Charlie Kelman and Ruel Sotiriou were both named in the starting line-up by Richie Wellens, who also handed a full debut to Ed Turns, signed on loan from Brighton & Hove Albion on Friday. Daniel Nkumrah was named amongst the substitutes after his early recall from loan at Welling United.

Josh Gordon returned to the Barrow side whilst George Ray, on loan for the second half of last season at the O’s was also named in the Bluebirds’ starting line-up.

O’s were fortunate just eight minutes in when Ben Whitfield’s cross into the box was not held by Lawrence Vigouroux, who then saw the ball roll agonisingly through his legs but with no Barrow forward following up, the danger was quickly cleared – much to the relief of the sell-out home crowd.

Shortly after, Adam Thompson’s perfectly timed tackle on the edge of the box on Gordon thwarted the build-up of a dangerous Barrow attack after the forward was put through on goal by Robbie Gott’s pass.

Following a goalmouth scramble in the eighteenth minute, Billy Waters bundled the ball over the O’s line only for the goal to be disallowed for offside.

From the free kick resulting from the disallowed goal, Leyton Orient forced Barrow keeper Farman into a fine save from Sotiriou’s well-struck volley.

With both teams continuing to press, James’s free-kick was punched clear by Farman – clearly choosing not to try to catch the ball in the slippery conditions caused by the falling rain in E10.

Early in the second half, Waters cut inside the box only to see his swirling shot fly past Vigouroux’s far post.

O’s felt they had a good shout for a penalty just before the hour mark when QPR loanee Kelman was upended in the box only for referee Leigh Doughty to ignore their protests and award a goal kick to Barrow – much to the annoyance and consternation of their fans.

Leyton Orient had another big penalty appeal turned down with ten minutes left after Sotiriou went to ground deep inside the box only for the referee to wave play on.

Substitute Harry Smith almost marked his return to the team with a goal when rising above Ray to meet Sotiriou’s cross, his header agonisingly flew inches over the crossbar.

James’ sending off in stoppage time after picking up two yellow cards in three minutes – for handball and a late tackle on Gordon, was the last action of this most combative encounter as the points were shared.

Leyton Orient’s thoughts now turn to their top-of-the-table clash at second-placed Stevenage next Saturday, January 21 (3pm).

Leyton Orient: Vigouroux, Hunt, Thompson, Turns, James, El Mizouni (Clay 74′) Pratley (Brown 63′) Smyth, Moncur (Duke-McKenna 64′) (Sweeney 88′) Sotiriou, Kelman (Smith 75′) Subs not used: Sargeant, Nkrumah

Barrow AFC: Farman, Warren, Ray, Canavan, Brough, Neal, White, Whitfield (Newby 72′) Gotts (Bennett 87′) Waters (Kay 79′) Gordon Subs not used: Brown, Moloney, Feely

Referee: Leigh Doughty.

Assistant Referees: Sam Lewis and George Byrne.

Fourth Official: Carl Brook

Attendance: 7,755