Ross Embleton made two changes to the team that played Tuesday night against Crewe; James Brophy replaced Dale Gorman in Midfield, while Conor Wilkinson came in for the injured Lee Angol.
Louis Dennis was granted creative freedom, playing in behind Wilkinson, as Brophy and Jordan Maguire-Drew started on the flanks.
Kwame Poku opened the scoring early doors with the host’s first dart forward. A low-ball across the edge of the area from Theo Robinson found Poku, whose deflected effort beat Dean Brill just three minutes in.
The U’s threatened soon after, with the goal-scorer scuffing an effort into Brill’s hands following a similar move.
It took the O’s seven minutes to register their first attempt. Louis Dennis was strong, holding off a challenge before feeding Conor Wilkinson on the edge of the box but the forward’s left-footed strike looped into Dean Gerken’s hands after flicking off a defender.
Orient began to settle in the game following the poor start and subsequently offered more of a threat going forward. A superb move including Wright and Maguire-Drew on the edge of the area ended with Dennis’s cross being cleared from the goal mouth.
Centre-back duo Josh Coulson and Marvin Ekpiteta both saw chances blocked as Maguire-Drew’s free-kick caused problems.
A decision to award Colchester a throw-in will be the talking point as the hosts doubled their lead on 28 minutes. What appeared to be an O’s ball was awarded the other way, allowing the Essex outfit to remain deep in Orient territory.
As a result, Ryan Jackson bolstered the home advantage. The right-back made space on the right-hand side of the area, before fizzing an effort into the top corner.
A defensive mix up gifted Wilkinson a goal before the break. John McGreal’s back-four failed to clear their lines and Wilkinson gratefully pounced to smash home into an empty net, after applying the necessary pressure.
There were no changes from either management as the second-half begun, with the score 2-1 to Colchester.
Wilkinson’s desire to hold onto the ball and draw a foul got the travelling fans singing right from the off.
With the crowd in good voice, Orient came forward in search of an equaliser. A cross-field ball from Joe Widdowson was brilliantly taken down by Dennis. The summer-signing took another touch to get the ball out of his feet before bending an effort a yard wide, with Gerken stranded on his line.
Craig Clay was Orient’s first sub of the game as Maguire-Drew made way with 61 minutes gone.
Shortly after the substitution, Dennis went close. A nod down from Coulson bounced just too high, as Dennis couldn’t keep his volley under the crossbar from close range.
With 15 minutes of the game left to play, Brill made a sensational stop. Frank Nouble found himself behind the defence and free in the area, but Brill charged from his line and made a vital block to deny The U’s reinstating a two goal lead.
The final 10 minutes of the game burst into life with both sides searching for the next goal. Matt Harrold was brought on from the bench to add another dimension to Orient’s attacking options, with James Alabi soon following him.
James Brophy and Louis Dennis came off, with the latter going close before being replaced. Sam Ling’s whipped ball found Dennis on the edge of the area, who turned well but fired the wrong side of the post.
6 minutes of stoppage time were to be played, in which Josh Coulson went agonisingly close to claiming a leveller. Ling’s long throw was headed on by the defender, narrowly missing the mark.
There was time for one last chance. Alabi’s shot deflected off a blue shirt and nearly trickled over the line, but Gerken jumped on-top of the ball in the nick of time to crush any hope of stealing a point.
The ball just wouldn’t go in and it ended 2-1 to the hosts. A really frustrating afternoon in Essex.
ORIENT: Brill, Ling, Widdowson, Brophy (Harrold 80’’), Ekpiteta, Coulson, Maguire-Drew (Clay 61’’), Dennis (Alabi 87’’), Wilkinson, Marsh, Wright
SUBS: Sargeant, Judd, Gorman, Happe
BOOKED: Wilkinson 69’’, Marsh 90′
GOALS: Wilkinson 44’’
COLCHESTER: Gerken, Jackson, Bramall, Prosser, Senior (Cowan-Hall 80’’), Sarpong-Wiredu (Lapslie 71’’), Robinson (Norris 87’’), Comley, Eastman, Nouble, Poku
SUBS: Ross, Sowunmi, Brown, Stevenson
BOOKED: Lapslie 74’’
GOALS: Poku 3’’ Jackson 28’’
REFEREE: Tom Nield
ATTENDANCE: 5,519 (1,655)