Leyton Orient’s bright start through Gavin Massey’s early opener only enough to earn point at Cheltenham Town in League Two opener
PUBLISHED: 16:58 06 August 2016 | UPDATED: 16:58 06 August 2016
Sky Bet League Two: Cheltenham Town 1 Leyton Orient 1
After making a great start to the new League Two campaign, Leyton Orient had to settle for a draw at newly-promoted Cheltenham Town.
Gavin Massey put them ahead after just three minutes at Whaddon Road as Andy Hessenthaler watched his team settle immediately.
The Robins fought back well, however, and grabbed a deserved equaliser with 14 minutes remaining through Billy Water.
Hessenthaler handed full debuts to six new recruits with Yvan Erichot and Tom Parkes together in the heart of defence.
Massey started on the right of midfield with AFC Bournemouth loanee Harry Cornick on the opposite flank and captain Robbie Weir in the middle with Nigel Atangana.
Jordan Bowery partnered Ollie Palmer up front with Sean Clohessy right-back and Sandro Semedo on the left side plus Alex Cisak in goal.
New signings Callum Kennedy and Liam Kelly were among the replacements after only recovering late in the week from illness.
They were alongside Sam Sargeant, Dean Cox, Nicky Hunt, Josh Koroma and Armand Gnanduillet.
Jay Simpson wasn’t at Whaddon Road after failing to recover from the illness he picked up during the week, although he has been heavily linked with a move to local rivals Southend United in the last few days.
A minutes applause was held just before the game in memory of Cheltenham vice-chairman Colin Farmer who passed away this week.
James Rowe had the first effort of note when Weir was caught on the ball, but he dragged his effort well wide.
Orient responded when Bowery brought the ball down well, he could only lash past the post with two minutes gone.
Less than 60 seconds later and the first goal of the 2016/17 League Two campaign was scored by O’s Massey.
Semedo did well on the left to get past his marker before trying to play a one-two with team mate Cornick.
Orient’s left-back cut inside and floated a wonderful cross towards the back post and Massey was on hand to slot into the corner.
It was the first League Two goal of the season and second in the whole Football League after Matt Smith’s winner for Fulham against Newcastle the night before.
Hessenthaler couldn’t have wished for a better start and Semedo was looking excellent at left-back.
With just over quarter of an hour played, Atangana made a great tackle midway through the Robins half.
He found Cornick and the Cherries loanee passed into Bowery’s path, but his effort was easily saved by Russell Griffiths.
Palmer won a corner a minute later and Orient created a great opportunity to test the Cheltenham goalkeeper again.
Weir took the set piece short to Massey and he brilliant dummied the ball allowing it to roll to Semedo.
The Portuguese ace side footed towards goal, but lacked the right direction and it went past the post.
Gary Johnson’s Robins looked to find a way back into the game and tested Cisak for the first time in the 23rd minute.
Rowe’s free kick was punched away by the Aussie before his second delivery was claimed by the O’s goalkeeper.
Cheltenham began to slowly work themselves back into the game and nearly equalised just before the half an hour mark.
Amari Morgan-Smith ran onto a knock down and worked some space, but Clohessy made a brilliant block tackle.
It come back out to Morgan-Smith and he tangled with Semedo, but Lee Probit, once a Premier League referee, waved play on.
The Robins supporters were frustrated with that decision and becoming more and more irate with the man in the middle.
Probit was called into action nine minutes before half time when Easah Suliman dragged Cornick to the ground after some fine play by the winger.
A minute later and the Bournemouth man showed off his potential by dribbling past two Cheltenham players near the corner flag.
Cornick raced into the area and got a shot off, but it was blocked – a shame as it would have been a stunning goal.
The hosts responded when Semedo dived in, allowing Rowe to get to the byline and cross into the box.
Dan Holman, unmarked, rose to meet the ball, but could only head well wide of goal and it remained 1-0 to the O’s.
Hessenthaler’s men come under some pressure before half time, but managed to survive a dangerous corner.
Two minutes of additional time were added on and towards the end of that Weir and Parkes clashed accidently.
It was the latter who come off worst and was holding his shoulder as he walked off the pitch when the Probit blew for half time.
The Orient defender was able to continue after the break and Cheltenham made the stronger start of the two teams.
Robins threatened in the 52nd minute when Daniel O’Shaughnessy took a long throw and Parkes got his header wrong, but Cisak was able to save with ease.
Massey helped O’s respond when he let fly on the volley from 25-yards and Griffiths tipped wide for a corner.
The set piece come to nothing and Atangana went into the book harshly for bringing down Harry Pell moments later.
Robins had another opportunity on the hour mark when Rowe controlled in space and set up Holman, but Erichot made an important block.
It appeared to spring Orient into life as they responded well as Cornick raced forward and passed into Bowery.
The former Aston Villa striker showed great pace, sprinted past his opponent, but drilled wide of goal.
Another chance occurred for the visitors when Semedo had a shot blocked and Atangana was fouled around 25-yards-out.
Cornick stepped up to take the free kick and his low effort was pushed wide by Robins Griffiths.
Cheltenham hit back with another long throw by O’Shaughnessy caused problems for the away side.
The ball come to Holman at the back post, although he could only smash wide from six-yards-out.
Hessenthaler made his first change of the afternoon in the 71st minute with Kelly coming on to replace Weir.
Robins created another chance moments later when O’Shaughnessy was picked out at the back post, but Cisak saved.
The ball was kept alive by Cheltenham and it come out to Holman, but once again he fired off target.
With 14 minutes remaining, the hosts did finally breakdown the back four after a wonderful piece of football.
Danny Whitehead linked up well with Morgan-Smith and cut the ball back for Billy Waters and he finished smartly from close range.
It was nothing more than the Robins deserved and Orient responded by bringing on Hunt with Parkes struggling with a shoulder problem.
Gnanduillet come on for Bowery with nine minutes remaining and O’s players looking tired.
Harry Pell tested Cisak shortly afterwards, although it was comfortable for the visiting goalkeeper.
Both teams appeared happy to settle for a point as the game drew to a close, but five minutes of stoppage time were added on.
Cisak received a nasty blow from Danny Wright in the first minute of additional time, but was able to carry on.
Cheltenham did have one final push for a late winner and had the full backing of over 3,000 home fans.
Waters late corner caused a brief moment of worry, but Orient managed to break well with Cornick before he gave a foul away and was booked as a result.
The full time whistle followed soon after to give Hessenthaler’s team a point in their first match of the new campaign.
Cheltenham Town: Griffiths, Suliman (Barthram 65), Parslow, O’Shaughnessy, Jennings (Cranston 65), Rowe (Waters 71), Pell, Whitehead, Morgan-Smith, Wright, Holman
Unused substitutes: Kitscha, Lymn, Bower, Thomas.
Leyton Orient: Cisak, Clohessy, Erichot, Parkes (Hunt 77), Semedo, Massey, Atangana, Weir (Kelly 71), Cornick, Palmer, Bowery (Gnanduillet 81).
Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Kennedy, Cox, Koroma.
Attendance: 3,912 (815 Leyton Orient supporters).