Town v Leyton Orient: Did Sheehan Deserve The Red Card?

A week after losing 5-4 at Peterborough we desperately needed a boring 1-0 victory over Leyton Orient just to steady the ship and gain some defensive confidence.

What we got was a game of the proverbial two halves, an awful first half that made watching paint dry seem like an exciting Olympic sport was followed by an eventful second 45 that brought goals and incidents.

The whole match was heavily influenced and eventually ruined by the referee Trevor Kettle. Kettle was whistle-happy and failed to allow the logical advantage throughout the game to the detriment of the fluidity of both sides with Town managing only 2 shots on goal.

Worse was to come after the break when Alan Sheehan was dismissed for violent conduct. My initial reaction, from my vantage point on the opposite side of the pitch, was the same as Kettle as I saw a poorly timed lunge. However, I’d say both I and the referee jumped to an early conclusion as there was no real contact and the challenge was clearly without any malice, and I’d agree with Wilson’s comment that this challenge was little different to many others in the game. Nonetheless, Alan Sheehan should fully take the blame for his dismissal as any footballer knows not to dive into a challenge. He gave Kettle the easy option to show the red card.

A ten man Town raised their game, showed magnificent spirit by coming back twice after going behind, dominated large periods and ultimately deserved to take away a draw after Michael Rose’s perfectly hit free kick into the top corner left Butcher in the Orient goal motionless. This was Rose’s second goal from a free kick of the season after a similarly pinpoint long range effort against Plymouth.

What this match proved yet again is the value of Charlie Austin. Town had started the game playing a 4-5-1 with Austin leading the attack. Shortly before the sending off Wilson was due to make a change to bring on Dossevi to partner Austin in attack, but swiftly shifted the pack to cover the defence. The lonely Austin upfront, who of course is slowly regaining match fitness, tirelessly chased every ball and never gave up. Towards the end of the 90 mins he was visibly exhausted but still continued to fight. A model professional and a perfect example of determination to all his young fans who idolise him. He couldn’t have done more and deserved his goal and man of the match.

So was this 2 points lost or a point won? Normally a Town draw at home against lower placed opposition is definitely not good enough. However, given the sending off and the fight showed by Town in equalising twice and coming back from the brink against a reasonable attacking team, I’m more relieved by the final result rather than delighted by the overall performance which was poor.

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