Leyton Orient produced a battling display to draw 1-1 at league leaders Plymouth Argyle.
Jay Simpson had given Orient a fourth minute lead with an unstoppable strike from 20-yards, but Ian Hendon’s side were to be left frustrated despite controlling the second half as Curtis Nelson equalised nine minutes from time to claim a share of the spoils.
For the trip to Home Park Orient were forced into making one change to the side that defeated York City on Saturday, as Cole Kpekawa was handed his first start for the O’s in place of injured skipper Mathieu Baudry.
Just like on the weekend Orient enjoyed an encouraging start to the match, and managed to grab an early lead on the fourth minute when Ollie Palmer flicked a header on for Jay Simpson who then turned brilliantly on the edge of the area before rifling home his 14th of the season from 20-yards.
Having made the breakthrough the visitors looked to then try and increase their advantage, as first Jack Payne sent an effort wide from distance before Jean-Yves M’Voto had a header well saved by Pilgrims goalkeeper Christian Walton.
In response to the early pressure Plymouth then grew into the tie, and M’Voto stood firm to deflect Carl McHugh’s strike behind for a corner.
Plymouth should really have been level on the 21st minute however when Graham Carey burst forward and played in Craig Tanner to his right. The winger then squared the ball for Jake Jervis who looked odds-on to tap in at the back post only to horribly miscue his attempt and somehow send his shot out for a throw.
With the hosts cranking up the pressure substitute Josh Simpson was then cleverly played through by Jervis’ flick but the midfielder could only blaze his shot over the bar.
Orient were then dealt a blow seven minutes before half time when scorer Simpson was forced off injured. The O’s top talisman appeared to moving gingerly following several strong challenges and as a result replaced by Lloyd James.
Following the break both sides had chances immediately after the restart, as first John Marquis had a shot parried away by Walton before Plymouth responded through Carey who drilled a shot wide.
Marquis was then at the thick of the O’s next attack as he managed to work some space down near the byline and drilled the ball back across goal towards Sammy Moore who ballooned an effort over.
As the second half progressed Orient continued to enjoy the better opportunities, as Marquis volleyed wide from outside the box before Moore curled a free-kick over the bar from 30-yards.
Despite looking the better side throughout the second half Orient were to be frustrated nine minutes from time when Curtis Nelson swept home an equaliser after Alex Cisak had kept out Luke Croll’s initial effort.
With 85 minutes on the clock Plymouth then felt they should have had a penalty when Jervis went down under pressure from M’Voto, but their appeals were immediately waved away by referee Andy Woolman.
Less than a minute later Marquis then responded with a chance for the O’s following a neat one-two with Palmer only to see his effort parried away, as both sides were forced to settle for a point.
Orient now host AFC Wimbledon on Saturday at The Matchroom Stadium.
PLYMOUTH: Walton, Mellor, Nelson (C), Croll, Sawyer, Carey (Brunt 65), Threlkeld (Simpson 31), McHugh, Tanner, Wylde, Jervis
SUBS: Bittner, Cox, Harvey, Smalley, Bentley
GOALS: Nelson (81)
BOOKINGS: McHugh (73), Sawyer (89)
ORIENT: Cisak, Clohessy (C), M’Voto, Kpekawa, Shaw, Payne, Pritchard, Moore, Marquis, Palmer, Simpson (James 38 (Kashket 90+3))
SUBS: Sargeant, Dunne, Moncur, McAnuff, Turgott
GOALS: Simpson (4)
BOOKINGS: Simpson (28)
REFEREE: Andy Woolmer
ATTENDANCE: 6,469 (198 Orient fans)