Tales of the Orient: League Two game ends behind closed doors

Game was called off to clear pitch invasion before teams returned to play out time

Fans on  the pitch at Brisbane Road during the Sky Bet League Two match between Leyton Orient and Colchester. Photograph:   Stephen Jones/PA Wire

Fans on the pitch at Brisbane Road during the Sky Bet League Two match between Leyton Orient and Colchester. Photograph: Stephen Jones/PA Wire

 

Leyton Orient manager Omer Riza defended the decision to restart his side’s League Two game against Colchester at Brisbane Road after it was initially announced it had been abandoned.

With five minutes remaining, a pitch invasion and sit-down protest by Orient fans against owner Francesco Becchetti forced referee Carl Boyeson to take the players off the field.

The protests lasted for more than an hour before the crowd were told the game had been abandoned and the stadium eventually cleared.

However, the match was re-started almost two hours after it had been suspended and the final five minutes plus three minutes of stoppage time were played out in front of empty stands, with Orient keeping possession throughout and remaining in their own half to leave Colchester as 3-1 winners.

Riza said: “When you think you’ve seen it all, something else pops up to give a strange situation.

“I think that when the players went back out, they found it difficult to get back into the speed of the game and they decided to see it out for the remaining minutes.

“Nothing surprises me as to what happens here at the moment but we got the game done and we move on to next week.

“It was the right thing to clear the pitch and finish the game off, however long we had to wait.”

Quickfire goals from Chris Porter and Macauley Bonne earned the points for the visitors after Sandro Semedo’s brilliant goal cancelled out Tarique Fosu’s opener.

Colchester manager John McGreal admitted that the afternoon ranked as one of the most bizarre in his football experience.

The 3-1 win kept the Us’ play-off hopes alive but was overshadowed by the bewildering end to the game.

An EFL statement after the match read: “A decision was taken with the Police to announce that the game had been abandoned as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct.

“However, it was deemed appropriate that the game needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition.”

That sparked angry responses on social media but McGreal also felt it was the right decision.

“The Football League were chatting to us and wanted to get the game finished but they couldn’t because of the crowd disruption,” said McGreal.

“[The question was] whether it was going to be finished tonight or whether we were going to have to come back in the week to finish it. The referee and the officials and the Football League were desperate to get the game finished.

“We’d done enough to win the game with five minutes and a bit of stoppage left so it was all about trying to get the game done. All credit to Omer Riza and his team and staff, they wanted to get the game done as well.

“It didn’t take anything off the gloss of our away performance and it gave us the win we have been desperately wanting of late.

“To go a goal up and then concede to a world-class goal from their boy but then react to go on and score another couple was testament to our boys. It showed their character and keeps us in the hunt.”

Colchester, in 10th, are just a point outside the top seven – one of a remarkable seven teams in contention for the last two playoff spots going into the final round of matches.

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