Leyton Orient game concluded after pitch invasion protest against owner

Colchester beat relegated Leyton Orient 3-1 in bizarre circumstances, with the last five minutes of the League Two game played in front of an empty stadium after an earlier announcement that the game had been abandoned.

The visitors had been leading 3-1 at the Matchroom Stadium when, with 85 minutes gone, around 750 fans protesting against club owner Francesco Becchetti invaded the pitch.

The supporters staged a sit-down protest, calling for Becchetti to quit and forcing the referee to bring the players off the field.

Leyton Orient manager Omar Riza made an announcement requesting fans to leave the pitch to no avail, and at 5.49 p.m. -- more than an hour after play had been halted -- an announcement was made that the game had been abandoned.

That had the effect of eventually clearing the ground, but the teams then completed the final five minutes.

Earlier, the match had been held up when a flare was thrown onto the pitch, but play soon continued.

Another flare, the second of the match, was thrown on the pitch moments before Orient fans invaded to show their anger at Becchetti's ill-fated reign.

Fans also chanted against the English Football League for allowing Becchetti to pass their owners and directors test.

An English Football League (EFL) statement released after the match said: "The League Two fixture between Leyton Orient and Colchester United has been concluded behind closed doors.

"The decision to play the match to a conclusion was agreed with both managers and with the support of the match officials. The police and stadium security staff were happy for the match to restart."

The statement said "a decision was taken with the police to announce that the game had been abandoned as it was felt this would help clear the pitch, which proved correct."

It added that the game "needed to be played to a conclusion in order to maintain the integrity of the competition and in respect of Colchester United's position of being able to qualify for the playoffs.''