Paul McCallum brace earns Leyton Orient vital victory over Crawley Town in Boxing Day cracker
- Credit: Archant
Sky Bet League Two: Leyton Orient 3 Crawley Town 2
A brace from Paul McCallum helped Leyton Orient edge Crawley Town in a Boxing Day cracker at Brisbane Road.
The O’s striker netted twice after Sam Dalby scored four minutes into his full debut during a stunning first half.
Andy Edwards’ team looked in control at the break three goals to the good, but the Red Devils set up a nervy finale in east London.
Fortunately Orient were able to hang on to a 3-2 win and claim a crucial three points ahead of hosting Cambridge United on New Years Eve.
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Edwards made four chances for the visit of Crawley with Callum Kennedy missing out with a groin problem and replaced by Teddy Mezague.
The French defender made his full debut at the heart of O’s back four with Nicky Hunt switching to left-back and taking the captain’s armband.
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Michael Collins replaced skipper Robbie Weir with Sandro Semedo taking Jordan Bowery’s place on the wing.
Dalby, just 17, was handed his full debut up top with McCallum and Jay Simpson dropping to the bench.
Crawley included former Orient players Glenn Morris and Jimmy Smith in their starting XI at Brisbane Road.
Dean Cox was also present and sitting in the West Stand on his first return to his old club since leaving on September 1.
The Orient legend spent time chatting with fans before taking to his seat on a chilly, windy afternoon in east London.
A minute’s silence took place before kick-off in memory of former O’s and West Ham United star Peter Brabrook and the supporters who have passed away over the past year.
Orient got the game underway and it took just four minutes for their teenager striker to make his mark.
Crawley lost the ball in midfield and Gavin Massey ran at the away back four before playing in Nigel Atangana.
Atangana crossed into the middle where an unmarked Dalby volleyed in his first professional goal for the club.
It was the dream start for Orient and Edwards, whose decision to gamble and start the youngster had already been vindicated.
Just two minutes later Massey was getting down the right again and crossed in, but McCallum could only head wide.
Semedo showed his potential soon after by beating a couple of players before play was spread to the opposite flank.
Massey played in the overlapping Myles Judd, yet his cross went over, though it was another encouraging sign.
Orient were playing with much more pace and tempo and it soon rewarded them with a second goal.
Collins caught Crawley off-guard with a quick free kick which put Massey in and his centre was converted by McCallum.
The O’s players celebrated passionately in front of the South Stand after making the perfect start.
Massey was maintaining his fine recent form with another strong display on the right and came close to setting McCallum up twice in quick succession.
Crawley began to get back into the game more after Orient’s blistering start and Alex Cisak had to tip away Jordan Roberts cross before Mezague made a crucial clearing header in the 23rd minute.
Hunt needed treatment moments later after landing awkwardly, though was able to continue at the back.
The Red Devils threatened again with just over half an hour gone when Roberts cut back for James Collins, but Cisak saved with ease.
Semedo then demonstrated his ability with an excellent run from the edge of his own area midway into Crawley’s half before being fouled.
It was a sign of things to come from the Portuguese winger with another dribble resulting in McCallum having a header saved by Morris.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the first half and it was enough time for O’s to have appeals for a penalty waved away.
McCallum’s header appeared to hit the hand of Mark Connolly, though referee Trevor Kettle let play carry on.
There was still time for one more Orient attack and Massey and Judd combining brilliantly on the right.
Massey got into the penalty area and Roberts tackled him from behind and although he got the ball, a spot-kick was awarded.
McCallum stepped up and as cool as you like sent Morris the wrong way to double his tally and put O’s three goals ahead.
The half time whistle followed moments later to cap a sensational first 45 for Orient and Edwards.
It was the visitors who began the second period strongly and Tom Parkes made a fine block to deny Smith against his old club.
But Crawley did pull one back in the 53rd minute when O’s failed to defend a cross from Lewis Young and Mezague put the ball past Cisak.
Edwards’ team responded positively to trailing with Massey delivering a wonderful centre, but McCallum headed wide.
Dalby was replaced moments later and left the pitch to a standing ovation with Bowery coming on.
The substitute had an immediately impact as he combined with Massey before the winger was cynically brought down by Joe McNerney, yet Kettle failed to award a penalty.
Crawley were beginning to get on top again after that incident with Parkes making two fine blocks.
Orient were still creating chances and Massey fired just wide from range with 23 minutes remaining.
Collins, who had been excellent all afternoon, then turned defence into attack and Massey won O’s a corner, which helped relieve some of the pressure.
The Red Devils then gave themselves a lifeline when Enzio Boldewijn rounded Cisak and fired home in the 78th minute.
Panic was now setting in at Brisbane Road and tension were running high on the pitch with referee Kettle earning boos from the home fans.
A fine last-ditch tackle from Mezague prevented Boldewijn from getting an equaliser for the visitors.
Cisak then had to tip Josh Payne’s free kick over moments after McCallum was booked for a late challenge.
Both sets of players clashed on the stroke of 90 minutes when Parkes went down after a blow to the head.
Hunt, Young, Payne and Collins were all booked as a result before five minutes of stoppage time were added on.
McCallum nearly sealed the win deep into time added on, but had a shot blocked before Massey helped the run the clock down.
The winger produced two excellent runs to take the ball into the corner flag and let the seconds tick away.
Eventually after seven minutes of additional time, Kettle blew for full time to hand O’s a deserved three points.
They had struggled for long periods of the second half, yet the performance in the first 45 earned them the victory.
Orient move up to 18th as a result, though only temporally with other matches in the division kicking-off at 3pm.
Leyton Orient: Cisak; Judd, Mezague, Parkes, Hunt; Massey, Collins, Atangana, Semedo; Dalby (Bowery 59), McCallum.
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Weir, Palmer, Simpson, Koroma, Erichot.
Crawley Town: Morris; Young, Connolly, Yorwerth, Blackman (McNerney 46); Smith, Payne; Boldewijn, Clifford, Roberts (Bawling 75); Collins.
Unused substitutes: Mersin, Bawling, Tajbakhsh, Djalo, Watt, Henderson.
Attendance: 4,486 (295 Crawley Town supporters).