Orient winger Moses Odubajo netted a deserved leveller to leave this Play-Off Semi-Final all square going into Tuesday’s second-leg showdown.
The home side went ahead with a disputed goal on 16 minutes through their ace marksman Britt Assombalonga and then O’s had to survive a shaky spell before stamping their authority on the game and the 20-year-old’s equaliser midway through the second half was richly deserved.
In truth the visitors had enough chances to have won this first leg encounter and will feel pleased with their performance with the home leg still to come and it was the Orient fans who were singing at the end.
Orient manager Russell Slade made just one change to the side that finished the league campaign with a 3-1 win at MK Dons last weekend, with fit-again defender Scott Cuthbert returning in place of Gary Sawyer, who dropped to the bench.
On a windswept day at London Road it was Orient who started brightly and veteran striker Kevin Lisbie had a great chance to give Orient the lead inside two minutes, but he fired a close-range shot from the right across the face of Bobby Olejnik’s goal and strike partner David Mooney was unable to touch it home.
But it was the home side that made the all-important breakthrough on 16 minutes when Danny Swanson fired in a shot that O’s keeper Jamie Jones parried, but Mark Little reacted first and whipped in a cross from the right and Peterborough’s top scorer Assonbalonga, looking suspiciously offside, headed home from close-range.
The reverse seemed to stun the visitors and it was the home side that started to take a grip as Nicky Adjose went close with an effort from distance as both sides struggled with the blustery conditions.
However, as half-time approached, Orient dug deep and started to take a grip of the game with on-loan Everton man John Lundstram becoming more of an influence and as they started to build a head of steam Slade’s side went close to a leveller on a couple of occasions.
First Romain Vincelot fired just wide from outside of the area, but the best chance fell to Dean Cox as the game entered first-half stoppage time.
The winger scampered down the left after Lisbie sent him clean through, but his close-range effort was well saved by Olejnik.
That was the final action of a first half where defenders Cuthbert and Mat Baudry both caught the eye.
After the break Orient were quick out of the traps and Odubajo started to be more of an influence down the right, but it was the home side who almost caught O’s out on the break, but Jones saved Assombalonga’s tame effort from 12 yards.
Although O’s were starting to dominate the possession it was Peterborough who went close when Tommy Rowe fired in an effort from 20 yards inches wide of Jones’ left-hand post, but O’s continued to press and almost levelled when Baudry raced forward and found Lisbie, but he shot wide.
The O’s boss made a double change on 70 minutes with Shaun Batt and Lloyd James thrown into the action in place of Lisbie and Lundstram and it proved to be a master stroke as within three minutes Orient were level.
Former Posh man Batt knocked the ball down to Mooney and his shot was parried by Olejnik, but the ball fell to Odubajo, in splendid isolation, to roll the ball into an empty net.
O’s were in the ascendancy and three minutes later it took a brilliant save from Olejnik to deny Cox at the foot of his post and then the diminutive winger went close again as the visitors went for the jugular.
Five minutes from time the lively Odubajo went close to adding his second and Mooney had a penalty shout waved away following a clash with Mark Little, but the deadlock remained despite five minutes of stoppage time to set things up for the second leg.
Peterborough: Olejnik; Little, Baldwin, Alcock, Ntlhe; Swanson (Isgrove 70), Bostwick, Payne (McCann 82), Rowe; Assombalonga, Ajose (Washington 52).
Subs not used: Day, McCann, Knight-Percival, McQuoid,
Goals: Assombalonga (16)
Bookings: Alcock (19 foul)
Orient: Jones; Cuthbert, Clarke, Baudry, Omozusi; Odubajo, Lundstram (James 70), Vicelot, Cox; Mooney, Lisbie (Batt 70).
Subs not used: Larkins, Sawyer, Bartley, Dagnall, Ness.
Goals: Odubajo (73)
Referee: G Salisbury