Off-night for U's

GERAINT Williams never tasted victory at the Weston Homes Community Stadium when the manager of Colchester United, but ironically he put that record straight on his first return as Leyton Orient boss last night.

Carl Marston

Colchester United 1 Leyton Orient 2

GERAINT Williams never tasted victory at the Weston Homes Community Stadium when the manager of Colchester United, but ironically he put that record straight on his first return as Leyton Orient boss last night.

The O's took the lead after just 80 seconds, thanks to Adrian Patulea's header on his debut, and winger JJ Melligan doubled the advantage just after the hour mark.

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Williams, after two full seasons as U's boss, suffered a nightmarish start to his third campaign at the helm last term, following the club's move to the new stadium. United failed to win any of their first four home games (a run that stretched to six), which prompted the Welshman's departure.

However, that's all water-under-the-bridge. Williams masterminded the O's vital 2-1 win over Colchester at Brisbane Road last April, to effectively guarantee their League One status, and he again plotted the downfall of his old club last night.

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Summer signing Patulea couldn't have hoped for a better start to his Orient career. The Romanian was in the right place to head home Melligan's cross inside the first two minutes. He was a regular marksman for Lincoln City last season.

The U's fate was sealed mid-way through the second half. Jason Demetriou burst through the middle and set up Melligan, who crashed home a low, angled drive beyond the reach of Mark Cousins.

And United's misery was complete when Clive Platt was sent off deep into injury time for an off-the-ball incident. His dismissal, for violent conduct (alleged use of the head) will prove costly because the big man now faces a suspension, probably of three games.

Ironically, the U's netted a consolation goal with virtually the last kick. Simon Hackney rifled home a free-kick from 25 yards out, but the final whistle sounded just seconds later.

It was all a bit of a let-down for the U's, following their terrific 7-1 victory at Norwich City on the opening day of the season on Saturday. The contrast couldn't have been more acute.

The O's great start, courtesy of Patulea's second-minute opener, could have been even better as they really caught the U's cold with some impressive attacking forays.

Mark Cousins, beaten so early on in his first appearance of the season, had his work cut out to prevent further Orient goals. He produced a great fingertip save to prevent Jimmy Smith's long-range firecracker from soaring into the root of his net on three minutes.

And from the ensuing corner, goalscorer Patulea connected with a free header from Charlie Daniels' delivery that whistled over the bar.

Cousins was again called into action in the sixth minute.

Talented left back Daniels ran at the heart of the U's defence before unleashing a stinging 20-yarder that warmed the hands of the U's keeper.

United soaked up the pressure and finally secured a foothold in the game. Kevin Lisbie, enjoying his first home outing since his return to the U's on loan from Ipswich, surged into the O's box but sliced his shot the wrong side of the near post in the 13th minute.

Shortly afterwards visiting keeper Glenn Morris was forced into his first save. It was an unorthodox one, with Simon Hackney's swirling cross looking on course to dip under the bar until Morris clawed it to safety.

Hackney was looking the U's most dangerous player, and he curled over a delightful cross from the left which Lisbie nodded a yard wide in the 34th minute.

That could so easily have been the equaliser.

The same two combined again from a corner kick routine. Hackney again obliged with an inch-perfect delivery, and this time Lisbie's downward header drifted wide of the far post.

The O's nearly doubled their lead in first-half stoppage time.

Melligan's powerful header was bound for the back of the net until Magnus Okuonghae intervened with a last- ditch headed clearance. But they were still good value for their lead at half-time.

The South Stand is accommodating home supporters this season, after housing the away fans last term, and they really made some noise as the U's kicked towards that end in the second half.

Just two minutes after the interval and Vincent, so full of running, controlled Kem Izzet's pass inside the box and slammed in a shot that took a deflection before Morris diverted it around his post.

Vincent turned creator in the 51st minute with a darting run that left his marker Daniels trailing his wake.

The ex-Cheltenham winger slid the ball through for the onrushing Lisbie, who dragged his shot across goal and wide with just Morris to beat.

But the U's momentum was lost when Melligan calmly fired home Orient's second goal in the 63rd minute, following a terrific run from Demetriou.

U's boss Lambert tried to galvanise his side with a double substitution, introducing Scott Vernon and Dean Hammond and also changing his formation to just three at the back.

Hammond went close with one thumping shot, and then saw a goalbound header hacked to safety by a defender.

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