Carlisle United conceded five at home for the first time in just over 10 years as pre-season optimism was replaced with disappointment and frustration following their opening day horror show.
Defensive frailties and poor decision- making plagued a stop-start campaign last season, and patience could be tested again as an increasingly subdued home crowd was served more of the same in the face of a buoyant visiting side.
A bright Carlisle start flattered to deceive as set pieces before half time gifted Orient two of the easiest goals they will score this season. Add a sending-off to the mix, when a clash between Lee Miller and Nathan Clarke left the latter unconscious and requiring hospital treatment, and you can see why this very quickly became a day to forget.
“You’ll always be up against it if you go down to ten men against a decent side,” manager Greg Abbott said. “We’ll look at the incident on Monday, but you tend to find the officials have their point of view and it won’t change. Lee will be a big loss for us, but we have players who can step up.
“Orient have some powerful and experienced players with the right kind of blend for League One, but we have to stand up and find ways to compete, whatever the situation. We have a young group and we’re looking for the senior lads to take responsibility and help them along. That didn’t happen, and it’s the most disappointing thing from the day.”
New signing David Amoo provided a brief moment of hope when he stroked a well-taken penalty into the net just before the break, but a change of gear from Orient after the break left United with nothing else but to lick some deep and damaging wounds.
“Lee Miller usually takes the penalties, so as soon as it was given I decided that I would go for it,” the nippy wide man explained. “A couple of the Orient lads were giving me stick, but fortunately for me I slotted it in. It’s the first penalty I’ve taken in professional football and it’s my first goal for the club but, right now, it doesn’t mean as much as it should because of the result.”
Abbott added: “This is a brutal league and it’s games like this where we find out that we have to be tougher.
“The fans showed a great deal of patience but to see their team get rolled over by five, in their own city, just isn’t acceptable. Some of them vented their feelings but you can’t expect a pleasant reaction after something like that.
“We’re talking about rolling sleeves up now. We can’t dwell on this because we need a performance on Wednesday to take us through to a tough away game [Bradford] at the weekend. It’s something we need to do together because, as we have seen, if we go running after things as individuals then we leave ourselves wide open.”
And wide open is as good a description as any for a closing 20-minute spell which saw Orient rip an already battered Carlisle defence to pieces almost at will.
“We crumbled and it just isn’t good enough,” the frustrated manager admitted. “All of the positivity the club has worked hard to build up over the summer has been damaged and we have to work hard to turn that round.
“We have to make sure our confidence isn’t rocked and we have to show that we’re a strong unit. We’ll struggle if we don’t.”
CARLISLE: Gillespie, Potts, James, Noble, Livesey, Edwards, Amoo, Berrett, Miller, Guy (Beck 74), Gillies (Symington 74). Subs Not Used: Thirlwell, Salmon, Lynch, Fleming.
Sent Off: Miller (31).
Goals: Amoo 43 pen.
LEYTON ORIENT: Jones, Cuthbert, Sawyer, James, Clarke (Omozusi 33), Baudry, Odubajo, Vincelot, Mooney, Lisbie (Gorman 83), Batt (Cox 69). Subs Not Used: Bartley, Larkins, Lee, Vanderhyde.
Goals: Lisbie 22, Cuthbert 37, Mooney 70, Cox 81, 90.
Attendance: 4,951. Referee: Jeremy Simpson (Lancashire).