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By Trevor Davies at Brisbane Road, Leyton Orient correspondent
Saturday, March 3, 2012
League One: Leyton Orient 1 Walsall 1
Defender Olly Lancashire headed home an equaliser for Walsall in the fifth minute of stoppage time to leave Orient still searching for their first home win of 2012.
Russell Slade’s side had taken the lead through Dean Cox in the 35th minute and then worked tirelessly to hang onto their lead despite playing with 10 men after substitute Solomon Taiwo saw red.
He was harshly sent-off in the 39th minute by under-fire official Andy D’Urso, who once again made the headlines for the wrong reasons.
After the game an angry O’s boss blasted: “We will appeal that, I have seen it on the DVD and we need to appeal that straight away, it’s a ridiculous decision.”
But O’s only had themselves to blame for not taking all three points, as Kevin Lisbie and Jimmy Smith had excellent chances to put the game to bed in the second half.
“We could have won by four or five goals,” continued Slade.
“We have had a penalty turned down. It was a stonewall penalty on Lisbie in the first half.
“We got ourselves in front and it’s a travesty, because the boys worked so hard and we should have finished the game off in the second period.
“We looked in control for the majority of the game and the frustration was not getting the second goal, we had the opportunities to put the game beyond them.”
Slade named an unchanged side from the team that had drawn at Bury, so on-loan West Ham keeper Marek Stech made his home debut.
But striker Calvin Andrew, signed on loan from Crystal Palace, had to make do with a place on the bench.
The opening 25 minutes were instantly forgettable, but D’Urso wanted to get into the action quickly and booked home skipper Matt Spring for a foul after just six minutes.
The O’s were forced into an early reshuffle when defender Ryan Dickson limped off with a thigh injury, so there was an early introduction for Taiwo, who came on into midfield, with Dean Leacock dropping to right-back and Terrell Forbes switching to the left.
It took a while for O’s to readjust and they had to wait until the 25th minute for their first chance when a deep cross from Cox was headed down by Smith.
Lisbie reacted first and managed to get in a header, which David Grof saved, although the O’s striker looked as if he was fouled as he went for the ball.
Referee D’Urso was in the thick of the action again 10 minutes later when O’s took the lead. Lisbie challenged keeper Grof for a through ball and appeared to catch the keeper.
But the official waved play on and the ball fell neatly to Cox, who rammed the ball home from close range.
Despite Walsall’s protests the goal stood and two minutes later visiting skipper Andy Butler was booked for a challenge on Jonathan Tehoue.
The official was reaching for his pocket again two minutes later when Taiwo slid into a challenge on Walsall’s Florent Cuvelier.
This time he pulled out a red card and it was Orient’s turn to protest and the fans vented their feelings.
It looked a harsh decision and seemed D’Urso was intent in turning the game into a non-contact sport.
It meant another change for Slade as Lisbie dropped into midfield and at half time the O’s boss switched things around again, as Marc Laird replaced Tehoue, with Lisbie returning up front.
Orient dug in with two banks of four and Walsall found it difficult to create any clear cut chances.
Indeed, it was the home side that should have stretched their advantage on 61 minutes when Laird played a neat ball through to Lisbie who raced clear of the visiting defence.
But keeper Grof came out made a smart stop as a chance of a second goal went begging.
New loan signing Calvin Andrew replaced Lisbie on 66 minutes and went close with a shot across the goal, although he might have done better to try and find Laird.
But O’s should have wrapped things up three minutes into stoppage time when Cox found Smith on the break, but the midfielder wanted too much time and was denied by an excellent close-range save.
It was a costly miss as in the fifth minute of stoppage time Butler headed home from close range following a corner after keeper Stech had tipped away Richard Taundry’s effort.
It was rough justice on the O’s and even Walsall boss Dean Smith thought Taiwo was unlucky to see red and that his side were fortunate to return home with a point
Orient: Stech 6, Forbes 6, Chorley 7, Cuthbert 8, Dickson 6 (Taiwo 7 mins), Smith 6, Spring 7, Leacock 7, *Cox 8, Tehoue 6 (Laird 46 mins), Lisbie 7 (Andrew 66 mins). Subs: Porter, Mooney.
Orient bookings: Spring (6 mins foul), Smith (82 mins foul), Leacock (91 mins foul)
Orient dismissals: Taiwo (39 mins serious foul play)
Walsall: Grof, Sadler, Lancashire, Grigg (Nicholls 57 mins), Macken, Hurst (Beevers 85 mins), Taundry, Paterson, Peterlin (Bowerman 71 mins), Cuvelier. Subs: Walker, Smith.
Walsall bookings: Butler (37 mins foul), Macken (71 mins foul)
Referee: Andy D’Urso.
Attendance: 4,183 inc 281 Walsall fans.