Leyton Orient 5-0 Hartlepool United verdict: Bizarre referee mistake overshadowed by shocking collapse in London

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Hartlepool United would have hoped the second half never started after a 5-0 Halloween humbling at Leyton Orient.

First half goals from Aaron Drinan and Harry Smith put Orient 2-0 ahead at the break. After the 15-minutes, the sides reemerged only for the first half to continue due to a timekeeping gaffe from referee Alan Young.

And things only went from bad to worse for Hartlepool as Drinan went on to secure his hat-trick with two more goals either side of Tom James’ strike.

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Out of nowhere, Pools had picked up their joint heaviest away defeat since losing 8-0 at Crewe Alexandra in 1995.

Leyton Orient (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)Leyton Orient (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Leyton Orient (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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But after last weekend’s impressive comeback against Harrogate Town, Dave Challinor's side were full of confidence heading into the game as they searched for a third straight Football League win for the first time since April 2016.

Meanwhile Orient – who sat three points and two places below Hartlepool going into the game – were keen to avoid the unwanted distinction of picking up a fifth consecutive league draw – something they had not done since a six game drawing streak all the way back in 1997.

Challinor made three changes from the side that beat Harrogate 3-2 at Victoria Park last time out. Two of those were forced with the injured Jamie Sterry and suspended Neill Byrne dropping out to be replaced by Reagan Ogle and Gary Liddle.

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It was a welcome return to the starting line-up for Liddle, who came off the bench to help Pools come from 2-0 down on his comeback from injury in the previous game.

Elsewhere, midfielder Mark Shelton dropped to the bench in place of Zaine Francis-Angol, prompting a shift in shape back to the familiar 3-5-2 set-up.

Orient deployed a similar three at the back system as they looked to match up with Pools. Ultimately, they would end up completely dominating their visitors.

The early exchanges saw little to choose between the teams before Hartlepool started to get Luke Molyneux involved more. The winger come striker had The O’s worried with two driving runs at goal in the space of two minutes.

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The first saw the 23-year-old attempt to find Mark Cullen only for his pass to be intercepted. The second ended in Orient skipper Darren Pratley taking Molyneux out, picking up a booking and the resulting free-kick being fired over by David Ferguson.

Despite playing out three goalless draws in their last five matches in the fourth tier, Kenny Jackett’s side took an early lead at Brisbane Road with their first shot on target.

Smith laid the ball off nicely to Drinan on the edge of the penalty area and the Orient forward curled a first time effort into the bottom right corner of the goal from the edge of the box.

After a promising start from Pools, the hosts had drawn first blood.

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Challinor’s side were then their own worst enemies after Leyton Orient captain Darren Pratley narrowly avoided a second yellow card following a deliberate handball inside the Hartlepool half. Much to Challinor’s frustration.

The free-kick saw Pools dawdle in possession as Nicky Featherstone’s loose pass was intercepted which allowed Smith to pick the ball up in acres of space to slot past Mitchell one on one.

A previously goal-shy Orient side now led 2-0 and for the second week running, Pools would have to come from 2-0 down in order to get something from the match in the second half. But the spirit on show last week was completely lacking this time out.

The confidence and momentum built up in the previous two matches had seemly been sapped out of Pools in the opening 45-minutes as they failed to threaten Orient’s secure back line.

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The sides then came out for the second half, or so we thought.

The referee blew for half-time in the 44th-minute of the match, not playing any stoppage time despite several cards, free-kicks and an injury.

Bizarrely, Pools restarted the action with the game still in the first half as the visitors continued to shoot from left to right.

Drinan thought he’d found a third for Orient only to be ruled out by the offside flag. The half-time whistle was then met by a loud sarcastic cheer from both sets of supporters who chanted ‘you don’t know what you’re doing’ at Young.

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The teams then swapped sides and Leyton Orient immediately got the second half under way after a perplexing period of play.

And the game quickly went from bad to worse for Pools as tucked the ball in for Orient’s third after being played through by Drinan.

The hosts were purring and Hartlepool just couldn’t deal with them getting bodies forward and overloading the penalty area.

It was a year ago this weekend that Pools suffered their lowest point of the 2020-21 season as they were beaten 5-0 by Torquay United at an empty Victoria Park. Brisbane Road may have been a sell-out this weekend but this was undoubtedly the side’s lowest point of the campaign so far.

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Still, the 673 travelling Poolies continued to make their voices heard even though their side were 3-0 down and had little chance of picking up a result as the match entered the closing stages.

Unfortunately on the pitch, Hartlepool had failed to turn up.

Orient continued to turn the knife in the closing stages as Mitchell was caught out with his attempted clearance falling straight to Drinan who executed a fine 30-yard chip over the Pools goalkeeper, who won’t want to watch that goal or indeed any of the game back.

Drinan then secured his hat-trick in second half stoppage time, which did go ahead this time, as he poked Smith’s rebound off the post into an empty net.

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For the second year running it was another 5-0 Halloween horror show for Pools.

Pools XI (3-5-2): Mitchell; Ferguson, Francis-Angol (Fondop 49), Liddle, Hendrie, Ogle (Odusina 55); Featherstone, Holohan, Daly; Molyneux, Cullen (Grey 60)

Pools subs: Killip, Odusina, Jones, Crawford, Shelton, Grey, Fondop

Pools bookings: Featherstone (23), Challinor (35), Holohan (38)

Leyton Orient XI (3-4-3): Vigouroux; Mitchell, Beckles (Kyprianou 45), Ogie; Archibald, Clay, Pratley, James; Kemp (Reilly 85), Smith, Drinan

Leyton Orient subs: Byrne, Wood, Reilly, Happe, Omotoye, Sotiriou, Kyprianou

Leyton Orient bookings: Pratley (14), Clay (29)

Referee: Alan Young

Attendance: 6,233 (673 Pools)

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