Orient came from behind to salvage a point at Walsall thanks to the skipper Nathan Clarke who grabbed his second goal in three games courtesy of a deflection to cancel out Paul Downing’s first half opener for the Saddlers.
The O’s struggled to create much in the opening period but will feel their performance warranted a point after an improved second half showing saw them peg back Walsall who provided a threat throughout on the counter.
Orient manager Russell Slade welcomed Mathieu Baudry back into the starting line-up following a hamstring injury as Gary Sawyer dropped to the bench whilst Chris Dagnall took the place of Kevin Lisbie in attack for the O’s.
Meanwhile Jamie Jones was involved for the first time in 2014 as he took a spot on the bench having been absent since before Christmas with a back injury. Meanwhile Slade was forced into a late change after Shaun Batt pulled out of the warm up meaning Yohann Lasimant took his spot on the bench.
Orient started brightly as the pressed from the front but it was the visitors who almost grabbed the lead with just six played as a ball in from the right found its way into the path of Milan Lalkovic who spun to get a shot away that Eldin Jakupovic somehow pushed on to the post and then got to his feet to dive at the feet of Craig Westcarr to deny him what looked like a certain goal.
The chance seemed to galvanise the home side who soon grabbed the lead when a Craig Westcarr corner was only half cleared into the path of Paul Downing who kept his cool to slot home from six yards.
Orient came close to cancelling it out straightaway as Baudry intercepted a ball in the midfield area and fed Moses Odubajo who sent a wicked cross across the face of the Saddlers’ goal but nobody in gold was on hand to turn it home.
It was from corners where the home side looked dangerous and Downing could have had a second soon after when Jakupovic failed to claim one from the right but he sliced his effort high and wide.
Despite failing to create any gilt-edged chances, Slade would have been pleased with his side’s pressing in high areas as they forced a number of turnovers, though less pleasing was the collection of Romain Vincelot’s 10th yellow card of the season which came just before the half hour mark and triggers a two game suspension for the midfielder.
The frantic pace continued and as the half wore on Orient twice went close through headers from crosses from the left first through Mooney and then Baudry as the O’s showed a bit more invention that they would have hoped to take into the second period.
There were no changes at the interval and the second half started at a slower rate than the first with Mooney having the first chance with five minutes played when he dipped a volley narrowly over from distance.
Orient showed flashes of creativity though were twice almost caught on the break firstly through Lalkovic who was denied by the sprawling Jakupovic before the big Bosnian again was at hand a minute later to palm away Westcarr’s deflected shot.
Orient responded though and Dagnall had a low shot excellently saved by O’Donnell before moments later he set up Mooney who also brought the best out of the goalkeeper.
It was the O’s best spell of the game and Slade threw Jamie Ness and Kevin Lisbie into the fray in place of James and Dagnall as Orient remained camped in the Walsall half though the home side looked a threat on the counter as Jakupovic again repelled Romaine Sawyers.
Walsall looked more content to slow the pace as they edged towards their first win in 10 games but Orient grabbed a leveller through the skipper Nathan Clarke in unlikely fashion. The defender controlled a loose ball 30 yards from goal and hit a volley that took a wicked deflection to wrong-foot O’Donnell and bounce into the net.
Orient piled on the pressure in the closing stages as Mooney twice went close with his head but it was a point and no more for the O’s who looked disappointed at the end not to have taken all three.
Walsall: O’Donnell, Taylor, Butler (C), A Chambers, Mantom, Lalkovic (Baxendale 81), Westcarr, Downing, J Chambers, Sawyers, Brandy
Subs: Featherstone, Benning, Roberts (GK), Hewitt, McQuilkin, Ngoo
Goals: Downing (14)
Orient: Jakupovic, Omozusi, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Baudry, Cox, James (Ness 68), Mooney, Odubajo, Clarke (C), Dagnall (Lisbie 68)
Subs: Jones, Sawyer, Lasimant, Bartley, Simpson
Goals: Clarke (77)
Bookings: Vincelot (27) James (50) Baudry (90)
Referee: T Robinson
Attendance: 5,779 (613)