On a cold and wet Tuesday night in East London, both Leyton Orient and Chester had it all to play for – a must-win six-pointer in mid-November. The fight for survival was beginning early this season.
However despite the best efforts from both sides, and an unbelievably entertaining first half, the spoils were shared at Brisbane Road as Chester and Orient drew 2-2.
The O’s opened the scoring first with their best attacking threat, Macauley Bonne, looping his header over ‘keeper Alex Lynch. The Blues then responded with two efforts, first James Akintunde’s lobbed shot was deemed to have crossed the line by the assistant referee, before Ross Hannah curled a free-kick home from twenty-yards out.
But despite a penalty, which was eventually missed, a red card for Sendles-White and caretaker boss, Ross Embleton, being sent to the stands, Orient levelled the tie up in the second half as Jobi McAnuff struck home from 25-yards.
With both teams coming into this game in poor form, Orient winless in thirteen and Chester in four, it was truly anyone’s game. The home advantage began to show in the opening stages in which Orient won three corners consecutively to put pressure on the Blues defence.
But it was the fourth corner that proved vital on six minutes, played short and crossed for Macauley Bonne to angle his header over Alex Lynch and into the far post. 1-0 to the hosts.
However it didn’t take long for the Blues to muster up a response – Andy Halls collecting the ball on the edge of the box and placing a delightful ball into James Akintunde, who’s touch looped over goalkeeper Sam Sergeant. Sergeant flapped at the ball and it struck the post, before going out for a corner. Despite this, discussions between officials resulted in the awarding of the goal, the Blues’ equaliser. 1-1.
Orient then began to press the Chester back-line again, Denton’s deliveries consistently causing the Blues danger. His most notable of which found Craig Clay in the box, but his header fell narrowly over the crossbar.
Following on, the Blues continued the end-to-end theme of the contest, this time Akintunde got forward but was pulled down on the edge of the box. With Lucas Dawson, Ross Hannah and Andy Halls standing over the free-kick, Hannah took up the role and bent his 40th minute effort around the wall and into the far post, too far into the corner for Sargeant to reach. 2-1 Blues and a rare goal from a free kick!
The drama then continued in the O’s box, Sargeant came to collect an effort and missed the ball completely, allowing Nyal Bell through on an open goal. The forward opted not to shoot and was instead brought down by the already booked Jamie Sendles-White, who was given his marching orders. This decision proved not the smartest, as Hannah’s effort from the spot was smartly saved by Sargeant.
The travelling Seals continued to frustrate the O’s as the first half came to a close – Orient caretaker boss Ross Embleton was sent to the stands after a disagreement with the officials, before home fans tried to take to the touchline to get to Blues manager Marcus Bignot. One of the most eventful Chester halves in the club’s history, yet it was only 2-1.
As the second half began the Blues, despite having a man advantage, decided to sit back and invite Orient pressure, in an attempt to catch them on the counter attack. Perhaps not the smartest idea with the events that were about to unfold.
Denton continued to cause the Chester defence issues, with two quickfire efforts at the start of the second half both deflecting wide.
Inviting Orient pressure proved to be the poorest of ideas, as the Blues defence failed to close down Jobi McAnuff, who struck home from 25-yards. Back to square one for the visitors.
John McCombe made it two goal-line clearances in two games, as he successfully blocked an effort before smashing it up-field. The Blues were seriously up against it.
Then finally, on 86 minutes, Leyton Orient missed a clear goalscoring opportunity that would have won them the game – Mooney found the ball in the air and volleyed from 12-yards, but somehow missed the target.
And despite a collection of Blues chances in the closing stages, Chester had to settle for a point on a cold evening in East London.
As I will be doing in all of my match reports, I’ll be giving Chester fans the chance to get involved and leave their comments on the performance, but where to start on this one?
For a team that hasn’t won in thirteen, Orient were really up for this one. It didn’t help that we blatantly invited their pressure, but they knew how important this game was and didn’t take it lightly. The start to the game was poor but Orient deserved the lead.
Despite this, we snatched two goals against the run of play and somehow found ourselves in the lead. The O’s were poor defensively and we needed to exploit this more.
Then came the big one, the penalty. Nyal Bell was clean through on goal, had all the time in the world but also had two possibilities; score but don’t have the man advantage, or win a penalty, in the hope we do score, and take the man advantage. He made a poor decision, but that’s the unpredictable nature of football.
Overall, the performance was positive in parts and negative in others, like usual. I said all along that this was a must-win game, and thus I left the Matchroom Stadium bitterly disappointed, especially considering we threw away a lead yet again.
But that’s football and now we’re left with a huge task on our hands this Saturday at home to Dagenham and Redbridge. If we win, happy days. If we don’t, we leave ourselves with it all to do. What a wonderful sport.
ATTENDANCE: 3,352 (173 Chester)