Leyton Orient’s match with Colchester United eventually completed after lengthy delay due to pitch invasion by O’s supporters
- Credit: Archant
Sky Bet League Two: Leyton Orient 1 Colchester United 3
Leyton Orient’s match with Colchester United this afternoon was eventually finished at 6.50pm after a delay of over an hour-and-a-half due to a pitch protest by O’s fans.
A stunner from Sandro Semedo had levelled the scores for the hosts at Brisbane Road, but the visitors scored twice in three second-half minutes to go 3-1 ahead.
Five minutes after Colchester’s third, Orient fans invaded the pitch with around 750 chanting for chairman Francesco Becchetti to leave.
After repeated requests over the tannoy and from O’s manager Omer Riza for the supporters to leave the pitch, the game was eventually abandoned at 5.47pm – just over an hour after the protest started.
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But, once the fans had removed the pitch, the final five minutes plus additional time was played to ensure the game was completed.
Jens Janse, Callum Kennedy and Paul McCallum earned recalls by boss Riza for the visit of Colchester.
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Teddy Mezague, Henry Ochieng and Victor Adeboyejo dropped to the bench as a result at Brisbane Road.
O’s got proceedings underway with the atmosphere electric in E10 with home fans chanting for Becchetti to leave from the off.
Riza used a 3-4-2-1 formation with Steven Alzate, McCallum and Tristan Abrahams up front and Semedo in an unorthodox central midfield role.
Janse and Kennedy were fielded as wing-backs, but it was Colchester who had the first efforts of note.
Tom Eastman had a shot blocked by Aron Pollock after five minutes before a header from George Elokobi forced Sam Sargeant into action.
Orient settled after those opening exchanges and the presence of McCallum appeared to be unsettling the Colchester back four.
Abrahams tested U’s custodian Sam Walker for the first time after 20 minutes, but his low effort was easily saved.
With the match proving to be an even contest, the deadlock was broken in the 26th minute almost from nowhere.
Eastman ventured forward on the right and produced a brilliant cross for Tariq Fosu to ghost in and head home.
The run of the Colchester midfielder had failed to be tracked and as a result Orient found themselves behind.
Both sets of supporters clashed minutes later in the East Stand with O’s fans in the South Stand showing their anger too.
On the pitch, Sean Murray drilled comfortable wide in the 31st minute before police were stationed between the two sets of fans.
Riza’s team responded five minutes later when Michael Clark’s ball forward fell neatly into the path of Abrahams, yet he could only curl over from 25-yards.
It was a brief positive attacking note for Orient, however, with Colchester looking assured in possession now.
Referee Carl Boyeson had to briefly stop play in the 40th minute when a flare was thrown onto the pitch by one of the U’s supporters.
Orient then produced their best moment on the stroke of half time as Kennedy crossed into the area and found McCallum, but his low header was well saved by Walker.
It was an encouraging way to end the first 45, but Colchester began the second period brightly in east London.
Fosu showed his skill on the left to work half a yard of space from Clark, but Sargeant punched his cross clear.
The second-half had started at a slow pace, but that was before Semedo produced a moment to savour in the 52nd minute.
Tom Parkes initially did well in defence, as he turned away from an opponent smartly before looking for Alzate.
His pass was deflected into the path of Semedo, however, and the Portuguese winger controlled before unleashing an unstoppable drive from 30-yards.
It flew past Walker and into the corner to spark jubilant celebrations at Brisbane Road involving the players and fans.
Semedo picked up a booking due to his celebration, but was straight back into the action four minutes later, as he slided in to prevent Drey Wright getting a shot off.
Colchester responded well to the equaliser and pushed to retake the lead with U’s opening goalscorer Fosu looking a constant threat.
Orient defended strongly before Riza made his first change in the 67th minute with McCallum making way.
McCallum applauded all four corners of the ground as he left the pitch with this likely to be his last O’s appearance at Brisbane Road.
Victor Adeboyejo came on before Colchester attacked again through Fosu, but Pollock produced a fine tackle to dispose him.
Pollock appeared to injury himself in the challenge, but signalled to the Orient bench he was able to continue.
Sargeant was called into action in the 73rd minute, as he punched Richard Brindley’s free kick away when under pressure before Murray fired over from range.
With the seconds ticking away at Brisbane Road, it was O’s who were suddenly looking confident and likely to grab a winner.
But that all changed in the 78th minute after a terrible mistake by Janse, which proved costly for Orient.
The Dutch defender tried to pass the ball back to Sargeant, but underhit his attempt and Fosu picked up the loose ball around 12-yards-out.
Fosu dribbled around the stranded Sargeant and with Pollock back on the line, he passed to team-mate Chris Porter who tapped in from close range.
It was cruel on Orient who had improved after the break and arguably deserved a share of the spoils.
Janse was immediately hauled off by Riza with Josh Koroma replacing him, although the defender took a couple of seconds to realise he was being substituted.
And then seconds after the restart, Colchester added a third with 10 minutes remaining at Brisbane Road.
A long ball was knocked forward to U’s substitute Macauley Bonne and he showed good strength to hold off Parkes before drilling past Sargeant and into the corner.
Orient were on the verge of their 18th home league defeat of the campaign and then five minutes from time play was halted.
An O’s fan from the South Stand threw a flare onto the pitch and it sparked hundreds of supporters invading the pitch.
Just like the Orient faithful had done at the end of the Hartlepool United match, they made their feelings towards Becchetti heard.
O’s supporters chanted for the Italian to leave the club before Colchester’s travelling support joined in.
After 20-minutes of protesting, fans slowly started to leave the pitch to offer fresh hope that the final five-minutes plus additional time could be completed.
An announcement over the tannoy called for Orient supporters to exit the pitch in order to prevent potential action from the FA over the pitch invasion.
Stewards tamely tried to clear people from the pitch and slowly fans began to go back to the stands.
Boss Riza then tried his best to speak to the Orient fans and although they listened, they refused to move.
Around a hundred supporters remained on the pitch even when Errol McKellar tried his best to reason with them to leave.
Despite more pleas over the tannoy, a large number of fans stayed on the Brisbane Road pitch.
Just as the pitch protest time moved to over an hour, an announcement confirmed the match had been cancelled at 5.47pm.
But at 6.40pm, the game was restarted, although in bizarre circumstances with Orient just passing the ball around comfortably.
Colchester didn’t press the home team and the final exchanges were played out in front of an empty stadium with the match virtually a keep ball session.
Unbelievably three minutes of additional time were added on with both players looking bemused by the circumstances.
Eventually the full time whistle followed from referee Boyeson and it brought an end to O’s campaign at Brisbane Road.
It finished in strange circumstances, although with Orient suffering their 18th defeat of the season at home.
Leyton Orient: Sargeant; Clark, Pollock, Parkes; Janse (Koroma 79), Collins (Moncur 85), Semedo, Kennedy; Alzate; Abrahams, McCallum (Adeboyejo 67).
Unused substitutes: Janata, Nnomo, Mezague, Ochieng.
Colchester United: Walker; Eastman, Wynter, Elokobi; Brindley, Lapslie, Murray, Briggs (Bonne 70); Fosu; Wright, Porter.
Unused substitutes: Brill, Loft, Vicent-Young, Pyke, O’Sullivan, Kinsella.
Attendance: 6,854 (1,257 Colchester United supporters).