ORIENT battled hard to secure a point against Swindon in difficult conditions and came close to snatching victory at the death.
It was a wet and windy evening in E10 and Russell Slade went with an unchanged side from the one that won against Notts County on Saturday as The O’s started with the wind blowing firmly in their faces.
The first half was not one to live long in the memory as both sides struggled to adapt to the conditions on a boggy pitch and neither goalkeeper was forced to break sweat.
Starting brightly, the visitors had the first chance of note as James Collins ghosted into the box but could only scoop Raffaele De Vita’s cross high over the bar.
Orient struggled to clear their lines early on and Matt Ritchie was the next Robins player to go close, cutting in from the right before driving his shot wide of the post. The Robins continued to dominate the opening 20 minutes but failed to force Jamie Jones into a save.
But it was The O’s keeper who was the first to be called into action with 27 minutes on the clock after Simon Ferry linked well with Ritchie on the right hand side before the latter drove a shot straight into goalkeeper’s arms.
Neither set of fans had much to cheer about in a miserable first half but The O’s came close to breaking the deadlock with their first effort on 41 minutes. A good move involving Martin Rowlands and Scott Cuthbert on the right saw a ball crossed into David Mooney who looped a header on to his striker partner Charlie MacDonald and the former MK Dons man made good contact with a volley but fired wide.
It triggered a decent spell of pressure for Orient who then had a shout for a penalty denied in first half stoppage time after Lee Cook was sandwiched between two defenders but referee Andy D’Urso waved play on before promptly bringing the half to a close with The O’s happy to see the end of the wind in their faces.
The second half was a far more entertaining affair as both sides looked to stretch the play and seize the initiative.
Cook and Mooney linked well in the opening exchanges but it was The Robins who came closest to taking the lead on 57 minutes. The ever-dangerous Ritchie drilled a long free kick into the area and striker Collins climbed well but headed just wide with Jones beaten.
The O’s then enjoyed a good spell of pressure with Mooney twice forcing chances, first from a long ball from Gary Sawyer and then blazing a speculative effort from distance just over the top.
With 67 minutes gone Swindon came closest to snatching the lead. De Vita beat his man on the left and skidded a cross into the Orient penalty area which Andy Williams guided past Jones but the ball bounced back off the post.
Three minutes later The O’s were furious after Moses Odubajo appeared to have been fouled in the Swindon penalty area but the youngster was instead booked for diving, a decision that looked harsh on the youngster.
With the game opening up, Dean Cox replaced Lee Cook and it was not long before the winger was involved in the thick of the action, driving a volley narrowly over the top from Charlie MacDonald’s knock-down.
Both sides continued to trade blows in a lively closing period. Alan McCormack forced a super save from Jones before Rowlands fizzed a drive narrowly the bar.
As the game wore on the visiting manager Paolo Di Canio became ever more animated in the dugout and the Italian was jumping up and down as Darren Ward missed a great chance to win it when he headed wide despite being unmarked from a corner.
But it was Orient that came desperately close to snatching all three points at the death. A deep cross from Cox was headed back across goal by Odubajo into the path of substitute Jimmy Smith but his drilled effort was saved brilliantly from visiting goalkeeper Wes Foderingham down to his right hand side.
ORIENT: Jones, Sawyer, Baudry, Chorley (Capt), Cuthbert, Odubajo, Rowlands (Smith – 78), James, Cook (Cox – 66), MacDonald, Mooney
SUBS: Omozusi, McSweeney, Griffith, Symes, Obafemi
BOOKED: Odubajo, Cook, Rowlands
SWINDON: Foderingham, Devera (Flint – 35), Thompson, Ward, Ferry, Ritchie, McCormack, Miller, Collins (Martin – 62), Williams, De Vita (Roberts – 78)
SUBS: Bedwell, McEvely, Navarro, Rooney
REFEREE: Andy D’Urso
ATTENDANCE: 3,536 (794 away)