Crawley Town 1-0 Leyton Orient: Red Devils hang on against wasteful O’s

The A23 roundabout next to the stadium featuring a giant football.

Image credit: Pete Chapman

Leyton Orient suffered a huge blow in their relegation fight this afternoon. Crawley Town held on to secure a crucial 1-0 victory in the relegation six-pointer at the Broadfield Stadium in League One.

Izale McLeod scored the decisive goal from the penalty spot in the 30 minutes in to a thrilling first half. Orient, or the O’s practically dominated the game after the break, but could not make their possession count as the Crawley Town Red Devils held on to lift themselves out of the relegation zone.

The game got off to a lively start with both sides showing a willingness to attack early on.

McLeod went close in the eighth minute when he was put through and found space inside the area on the left but his shot dragged wide of Alex Cisak’s post.

It was Orient who looked most likely to score though. Chris Dagnall combined with Dean Cox on the right and broke into the area, but his shot from close range was kept out by Lewis Price and cleared for a corner.

An almighty scramble in front of the Crawley goal almost gave the visitors the lead in the 20th minute as Dagnall and Henderson desperately tried to put the ball in after Luke O’Neill’s cross wasn’t cleared by Darren Ward. Ward eventually manage to scramble the ball out for a corner.

The following corner required more heroics from Price to keep the game goalless. Cox let fly with a dipping shot when the ball came out to him on the edge of the area but the Welshman was on hand to palm the ball over the bar.

It was Cisak at the other end who was under pressure a couple of minutes later. Crawley pumped the ball into the area and put him under questionable pressure. The ball cannoned off several heads as Mathias Pogba made a nuisance of himself, but Cisak finally drew a foul trying to punch the ball clear.

Pogba was getting the better of Clarke and Cuthbert. The brother of Juventus’ Paul Pogba, joined Crawley last month having been released by Pescara in Serie B in Italy.

In the 27th minute, Gavin Tomlin tore through the middle leaving blue shirts in his wake. He received a return pass after laying the ball off to Ryan Dickson, but his quick turn and shot on the edge of the 6 yard box was high and wide.

Somehow the game had remained goalless to this point, despite the both teams having good chances to score. But McLeod made the difference on the half hour.

The former MK Dons striker was brought down in the area by Luke O’Neill after latching on to a diagonal ball. McLeod picked himself up and made no mistake with the penalty, sending Cisak the wrong way and slotting the ball calmly into the bottom left corner.

That lead was a vital one for the Red Devils, and it could have been two moments later. Cisak produced a fine save tipping the ball out for a corner after Wordsworth tried a curling effort from outside the area which looked destined for the top left.

Crawley made a flying start after the break and almost doubled their lead through Tomlin, but his rasping low drive just missed the left post.

That good start didn’t last, as Orient seemed reinvigorated from Fabio Liverani’s half time team talk. The O’s were now dominating possession and passing the ball well, while Crawley couldn’t get out of their own half.

Marvin Bartley forced a good save from Brian Jensen when he placed one from 20 yards, but the stand-in goalkeeper was equal to it and tips it round the post. The 39-year-old Dane had replaced the injured Lewis Price at half time.

Orient continued to control the game for almost the entire second half but for all of their passing and territory, they couldn’t calve out a gilt-edged chance to score.

Josh Wright had the freedom of the Broadfield Stadium to steady himself for a shot on the edge of the area when Ryan Hedges found him. But Wright leant back and sent the ball high and over the terraces with 20 minutes to go.

Substitute David Mooney was denied by Jensen with his bouncing shot in the final minutes, the Dane again getting down well to parry it.

Jensen’s finest moment came in injury time though when he made a point blank save as Ryan Hedges flicked at the near post. The veteran’s second half cameo might well have kept the Red Devils in League One, as the game ended 1-0.

The result leaves the O’s floundering in the relegation zone, three points adrift of safety.