Eltringham’s shocker must not mask Orient’s shortcomings
Spring’s red card must not paper over the defensive cracks
Orient’s six-month unbeaten home run could not have ended in a more spectacular fashion following this disastrous defeat.
Quite simply, it was a day when everything that could have gone wrong, did. However, it was the inept performance of referee Geoff Eltringham that will live long in the memory.
The Tyne & Wear official sent O’s midfielder Matt Spring off after just 14 minutes and also awarded the visitors a dubious penalty just before the break.
Not only did he seem to get the big decisions wrong, but the run of the mill ones as well. In truth, Orient gave themselves a mountain to climb after Spring saw red, however the awful display by Eltringham should not mask the home side’s shortcomings.
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Although O’s were reduced to 10 men, they conceded too many cheap goals. It could have been worse than five.
Jason Crowe deputised for the injured Charlie Daniels – who is sorely missed when unavailable. While fit again Ben Chorley and on-loan Adam Barrett failed to impress as a pair at the heart of the home rearguard.
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With skipper Stephen Dawson picking up another injury it proved to be a day of disaster. But, providing defensive lessons can be learned, O’s must draw a line under the defeat and look to bounce back in Saturday’s derby duel at Charlton.
Certainly, O’s had started brightly enough against Russell Slade’s former side. But it was Yeovil who grabbed a shock lead on nine minutes when Crowe only half-cleared a corner and Shaun MacDonald, who went on to complete a hat-trick, blasted a 30-yard drive into the net, via an upright.
It was a wonder goal and the start of the Orient nightmare.
Five minutes later Spring and Andrew Welsh both slid into a challenge. The O’s midfielder won the ball and there seemed no malicious intent from either player.
It looked as if Eltringham was not even going to give a free-kick. However, the reaction of the Yeovil players appeared to influence the official and he stunned everyone by pulling out a red card – although Orient have decided to launch an appeal.
It’s something Eltringham has made a habit of this season – it was his 13th red in the 26 games he has refereed.
Before O’s could recover, or re-adjust they were two-down. MacDonald was the marksman again as he was given too much time and space down the right and fired past Jamie Jones at his near post.
Dean Cox and Crowe tried to lift Orient with efforts, but O’s looked unsure at the back and Jonathan Obika was denied by an excellent stop from Jones.
Then it took a great double block from Elliot Omozusi to deny Oli Johnson. It looked as if Orient might sink without trace, especially as the red mist had started to descend on players and spectators alike at the injustice of the situation.
Scott McGleish was booked for a foul on 32 minutes – and that seemed worse than Spring’s challenge. Then skipper Stephen Dawson took a knock as he clattered into a Yeovil player. The referee took centre stage again four minutes before the break when MacDonald smashed a ball against Dawson’s hand on the edge of the box.
It was a reaction by the O’s skipper to protect his face, but Eltringham viewed it as a spot kick and MacDonald completed a first-half hat-trick. Seconds later Dawson limped off injured.
The hapless official had a golden opportunity to pull out his 14th red card of the season when Paul Wotton elbowed McGleish in the face. But the official strangely decided on a yellow.
After the break, Yeovil bagged a fourth on 47 minutes. Obika’s cross looped off Barrett and fell neatly to Welsh, who converted at the far post.
Jones made two good saves from Obika, before Orient grabbed a consolation on 70 minutes when Jonathan Tehoue headed the ball to McGleish, who teed up Cox to loft the ball into the corner of the net.
But Yeovil grabbed a fifth three minutes from time when Dean Bowditch slid the ball into the net after Obika set him up, to end a thoroughly miserable day.