LEYTON ORIENT 2 (Bonne 55, 80) BARROW AFC 2 (Hindle 4, Correia 85)

REFEREE Tom Reeves and his assistants were at the centre of a storm as Barrow AFC hit back late to snatch a point at Leyton Orient.

A bad mistake to the benefit of each side may have levelled things out in East London, but it had both managers questioning the appointment.

Reeves, taking his first appointment in non-league’s top-flight since promotion from the National League North, did his best to frustrate the two camps in a match which could have swung either way thanks to some poor decisions.

The hotly -contested moments surrounded either side’s final goals.

Macauley Bonne was a clear yard offside when Josh Koroma played him in for 2-1, and surely it had to be chalked off.

So should have Barrow’s leveller. No way was there not a push on goalkeeper Dean Brill before super-sub Raul Correia bundled the ball into the net beyond the desperate Josh Coulson for 2-2.

A draw was right once you sifted through the wreckage of what was left; a horrible and ugly first half made way for a second period of excellent football combined with a bit of blood and thunder.

Such a far cry was it from the match at Brisbane Road towards the end of last season, the 4-1 Orient rout which at that point appeared to signal relegation for the Bluebirds.

Like that contest last April, it was the visitors who went ahead. At the same end too as Luke James had fired them in front, there was early-game deja vu for the 126 who came from the north west and beyond.

Orient had their early warning of what was to come. Josh Kay skimmed the bar inside two minutes, placing an effort well out of Brill’s reach and the only thing he lacked was a little dip when he needed it.

There was soon to be celebration. Slick football from John Rooney allowed Jack Hindle in and, after holding off a challenge, he made it three for the season already.

In the 20th minute came something which made the Barrow players smile, if not their manager.

Boss Evatt got a whack where it really hurts, but the manager is made of strong stuff. While many would be on their knees with eyes watering, the ex-Blackpool hard-man did not even flinch. His team had a good giggle at least.

There was no laughing soon after. Rhys Turner picked up an injury and had to be replaced. Nathan Waterston is not a bad option from the bench, but it upset Barrow’s rhythm.

Orient skipper Jobi McAnuff drilled a low shot just wide before Charlie Lee’s flicked header nearly put the Londoners on terms.

Three Bluebirds found the referee’s notebook before the break. The crowd started to play their part as the hosts tried to force the issue.

If the first half was tetchy, the second was more about the football.

You had to feel for Andy Firth, the brave Barrow keeper. An incredible point-blank save from the six-yard box demon that is Bonne with his face kept the side level, but within seconds of receiving treatment the striker had his revenge.

Bonne notched his first of the new season after the ball fell kindly to him. There was nothing this time Firth could do, but debutant Kyle Jameson perhaps showed his inexperience as life was a little too easy for the forward to turn and score.

Dan Jones could have eased the pain. The left-back found himself in so much space back post but somehow failed to get what was a simple header on target after Rooney’s expert cross.

Substitute Waterston tried to dig him out of a hole a minute later, but Brill equal to his low and purposeful drive.

The first-half handbags seemed to have been left in the changing room and a good match broke out with both teams looking more than capable of going on to win it.

You always got the feeling there was still another goal in it, and Bonne twisted the knife.

The Orient hitman was again in the right place at the right time, nobody better five yards from goal. Koroma beat the offside trap.

As Bonne was celebrating his goal with the other O’s players, boss Evatt was thinking what next. He made a change straight away to try and claw back some momentum.

Yes, the referee had to pick up the foul on Brill but he made a nuisance of himself inside the box and got his reward. With complaints all round it is hard to suggest a point was not what both deserved.


Leyton Orient (4-4-2): Dean Brill, Sam Ling, Marvin Ekpiteta, Josh Coulson, Josh Widdowson, Jobi McAnuff, Craig Clay, Charlie Lee (James Dayton 77) James Brophy, James Alabi (Josh Koroma 65).

Substitutes not used: Sam Sargeant, Alex Lawless, Dan Happe.

Barrow AFC (4-3-3): Andy Firth 8, Connor Brown 7, Josh Granite 7, Kyle Jameson 6, Dan Jones 6, Josh Kay 6 (Luke Burgess 72, 6) John Rooney 7, Jason Taylor 7 , Rhys Turner 6 (Nathan Waterston 22, 7) Tyler Smith 6 (Raul Correia 80, 7) Jack Hindle 7.

Substitutes not used: James Pollard, Jack Barthram.

Booked: Josh Kay (30), Jason Taylor (36), Connor Brown (40), John Rooney (87).

Referee: Tom Reeves.

Attendance: 4,304 (126 from Barrow).

Next Game: Barrow AFC v Chesterfield, tomorrow, Holker Street, 7.45pm kick-off.


Andy Firth: Pulled off some key saves to keep his side in the game.