Leyton Orient and Colchester United players return to finish ‘abandoned match’ in an empty stadium

The pitch invasion at Leyton Orient this afternoon. Picture: CARL MARSTON

The pitch invasion at Leyton Orient this afternoon. Picture: CARL MARSTON - Credit: Archant

Leyton Orient 1 Colchester United 3

Tarique Fosu heads home the opening goal to put the U's 1-0 up at Leyton Orient this afternoon. Pict

Tarique Fosu heads home the opening goal to put the U's 1-0 up at Leyton Orient this afternoon. Picture: RICHARD BLAXALL - Credit: Archant

Colchester United’s League Two match at Leyton Orient this afternoon was initially abandoned following a pitch invasion, after 84 minutes, with the U’s 3-1 up.

But the players then returned, once the stadium had been emptied – nearly two hours later – to play out the remaining six minutes of normal time, plus injury time.

It was a bizarre end to the game, with both sets of players just going through the motions, with Leyton Orient players merely passing between themselves, and the U’s letting them have possession.

John McGreal’s men were well on course for victory, with six minutes remaining, and heading for their first away win of 2017.

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But O’s fans, angry at their club’s relegation out of the Football League, then invaded the pitch in their hundreds, protesting against owner Francesco Becchetti.

And there they remained, despite repeated pleas for them to return to the main-stand, including a plea from manager Omer Riza, for more than an hour.

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Eventually, when it was announced over the Tannoy that the match had been abandoned, the fans began to clear the pitch and leave the stadium.

However, the two teams remained in the dressing room, to finally resume the match in surreal circumstances, in an empty stadium.

A match that had kicked off at 3pm therefore eventually finished at 7pm.

The U’s really needed to beat the already-relegated O’s, to stand a realistic chance of gate-crashing the top seven on the final weekend of the season, at home to Yeovil next Saturday.

Tarique Fosu’s superb header, on 26 minutes, seemed to put the U’s on course for a comfortable victory.

But Sandro Semedo’s long-range thunderbolt, in the 52nd minute, stunned the visitors and looked to have earned an unlikely point for the East London club.

However, late goals from Chris Porter and Macauley Bonne turned the game the U’s way to give the Essex club a much-needed boost to those play-off hopes.

For the opening goal, Tom Eastman swung over a teasing cross from the right flank and Fosu steamed in to send a powerful header soaring into the back of the net, from six yards out.

The U’s were good value for their half-time lead, but they were stunned by Semedo’s spectacular equaliser in the 52nd minute.

The midfielder’s speculative 30-yarder dipped over a helpless Sam Walker and flew into the net.

But the U’s regained their lead in the 77th minute. Fosu benefited from a terrible error by Jens Janse, and he sped through to square for an unmarked Porter to slot home his 16th goal of the season.

Three minutes later and substitute Bonne turned to fire a low drive into the far corner of the net.

But then came the pitch invasion, with both sets of players leaving the playing stage, only to return later to finish the game.

The U’s are therefore just one point off the play-offs, with one match remaining.


LEYTON ORIENT: Sargeant, Clark, Pollock, Parkes, Janse, Collins (sub Moncur, 85), Alzate, Kennedy, McCallum (sub Adeboyejo, 65), Semedo, Abrahams. Unused subs: Janata, Nnomo, Mezague, Koroma, Ochieng.

COLCHESTER: Walker, Eastman, Wynter, Elokobi, Brindley, Lapslie, Murray (sub Loft, 72) Briggs (sub Bonne, 68), Fosu, Wright, Porter. Unused subs: Brill, Vincent-Young, Pyke, O’Sullivan, Kinsella.

Referee: Carl Boyeson

Attendance: 6,854 (1,257 away fans)

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