Leyton Orient comeback to stun Hartlepool United and stave off threat of relegation for another week
- Credit: Archant
Sky Bet League Two: Leyton Orient 2 Hartlepool United 1
Leyton Orient fought back from a goal down to defeat Hartlepool United and stave off the threat of relegation for another week.
Omer Riza’s team knew they would be down if they fail to win at Brisbane Road, but despite trailing after eight minutes, they turned it around with another impressive display.
It was their first win at Brisbane Road since Boxing Day and keeps them officially in the Football League for a little bit longer.
Riza made one change to the team which started at Luton Town, as Tristan Abrahams was handed his full debut.
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Sam Dalby dropped to the bench as a result and was joined by Paul McCallum, who was back after injury.
Orient started with a 4-4-2 formation and a diamond in midfield, and got proceedings underway at a partisan Brisbane Road.
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Some of the O’s supporters dressed up as clowns and blew whistles in protest against chairman Francesco Becchetti.
It helped create a buoyant atmosphere inside the ground, with fans chanting against the club’s Italian owner.
Orient started brightly too with vice-captain Liam Kelly testing Joe Fryer after just three minutes after good play on the right by Michael Clark.
Two minutes later and O’s created another chance, as Aron Pollock floated a lovely ball over the top for Victor Adeboyejo, but his effort was saved by the away goalkeeper.
But, as we have come to expect, Orient’s encouraging start was ruined by some poor defending in the eighth minute.
First Teddy Mezague failed to direct his defensive header well enough and Rhys Oates was then afforded too much time on the ball.
Oates controlled just inside the area and faked to shoot which put off Clark before he fired past Sam Sargeant despite close attention from Pollock and Sandro Semedo.
It wasn’t the start O’s would have hoped for, but it didn’t deter the fans and in the 11th minute they started blowing their whistles even more to protest against Becchetti.
Referee Dean Whitestone briefly had to stop play with quarter of an hour gone, so Pools custodian Fryer could clear some toilet roll from his goal area.
With plenty of action taking place off the pitch, the Orient supporters were soon in raptures for the right reasons on it.
Clark brought the ball forward on the right and got past his opponent before drilling a low ball into the area.
Adeboyejo anticipated the delivery well and got ahead of his marker to poke past Fryer in the 18th minute and score his first professional goal.
Orient were brimming with confidence now and Semedo lashed wide from range soon after the equaliser.
Steven Alzate’s influence on the game was starting to grow too and he put Adeboyejo through in the 23rd minute, but the forward fired wide.
Alzate was involved again two minutes later, as he brought the ball forward and found Abrahams, who picked out Adeboyejo, but Fryer brilliantly saved from close range.
Abrahams latched onto the loose ball and saw his low drive blocked by a defender, as O’s continued to press.
Alzate was tormenting the Hartlepool defence and had a couple of shots blocked before Orient took the lead.
Pollock played the ball forward and picked out Alzate, who drove at the visitors back four before flicking into Abrahams’ path, and he curled past Fryers in the 34th minute.
It sparked wonderful scenes in front of the South Stand and O’s were looking set to stave off relegation for a little while longer at this point.
Hartlepool did threaten 10 minutes after Orient’s second, as Nathan Thomas tried his luck from just outside the area, but Sargeant saved with ease.
Young Henry Ochieng then nearly produced a wonder strike from 30-yards, but his rising drive just cleared the crossbar.
Two minutes were added on at the end of the first half, but Riza’s team managed to get to half time in front.
Hartlepool started the second period brightly and Semedo was forced to make a crucial clearance before Thomas headed over.
Orient nearly made it 3-1 in the 55th minute, however, when Ochieng played a superb lofted pass into Abrahams’ path.
The O’s teenager striker composed himself before volleying towards the top corner, but Fryer made a brilliant finger-tip save.
Despite the chance, the visitors were starting to get on top and Riza changed tactics on the hour mark.
Semedo and Ochieng were asked to act as wing-backs in a 3-4-3 formation with Alzate moving just behind Abrahams and Adeboyejo.
Hartlepool continued to dominate and Thomas produced a wonderful ball into the area, but Oates and Padraig Amond couldn’t find a telling touch.
McCallum was introduced with 20 minutes remaining, as the impressive Alzate made way at Brisbane Road.
Riza made another change six minutes later as Josh Koroma replaced Adeboyejo, as he looked for O’s to see out the game.
Time was running out for for Hartlepool and Freddy Moncur was brought on for the final six minutes.
Sensing the youngsters were tiring, the Orient fans began to get behind the team and tried to carry them over the line.
But O’s nearly suffered heartbreak at the end, as Teddy Mezague misjudged the flight of a ball into the area and Oates deflected the ball towards goal.
With Sargeant beaten, Pollock managed to get back on the line to clear and ensure Orient remained ahead.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the 90 and Moncur nearly added a third when he latched onto a poor back pass, but he was denied by Fryer.
Whitestone also produced a red card deep into time added on, as Joe Donnelly picked up a booking before receiving a second yellow for going head-to-head with the referee.
After that drama, the full time whistle followed to ensure Orient had staved off the threat of relegation for now.
If they fail to win next weekend at Crewe Alexandra they will be down, but for now O’s are seven points from safety and with a faint chance of staying up.
Orient fans invaded the pitch after full time and protested for Becchetti to leave and the club continues to fight for another day in League Two.
Leyton Orient: Sargeant; Clark, Pollock, Mezague, Semedo; Collins; Kelly, Ochieng; Alzate (McCallum 70); Abrahams (Moncur 84), Adeboyejo (Koroma 76).
Unused substitutes: Janata, Dalby, Happe, Janse.
Hartlepool United: Fryer; Magnay, Walker, Harrison, Donnelly; Featherstone (Rooney 82), Deverdics (Woods 46); Alessandra, Thomas, Oates; Amond (Rodney 72).
Unused substitutes: Dudzinski, Bates, Hawkins, Blackford.
Attendance: 5,411 (351 Hartlepool United supporters).