A lively crowd inside the Matchroom Stadium will have been delighted with the quality on show in the international friendly between Jamaica and Egypt on Wednesday night which ended 2-2.
Egypt raced into an early lead but Jamaica found themselves 2-1 up by half-time. The Pharaohs looked much better after the break and leveled the tie on 72 minutes but despite the end-to-end action for the remainder of the game, neither side could find a winner.
There were a few Orient connections in the Jamaican side as O’s striker and former full international Kevin Lisbie was in the stands to cheer on his country whilst Jamar Loza, who spent a spell on loan in E10 last season from Norwich was on the Reggae Boyz’s bench and Simon Dawkins – now of Derby but once another O’s loanee – in the starting line up.
There was a sprinkling of stardust in the Egyptian team too as Chelsea star Mohamed Salah lead the line for the Pharoahs with Hull City’s Ahmed El-Mohammadi bombing up and down the right flank.
And it was the Tigers wide man who won a corner early, with the resulting delivery being headed home by Mohamed El-Neny to give the side in red an early lead.
The game evened out after this with both sides placing a strong emphasis on attack, and Jamaica levelled the tie shortly before the half hour mark when Christopher Humphrey’s cross from the right was skilfully tucked home by Simon Dawkins.
The goal turned the already lively atmosphere up a notch and just 10 minutes later, Joel Grant raised the roof of the Matchroom Stadium with a dazzling run and finish that sparked wild celebrations as the Reggae Boyz grabbed the lead.
The free-flowing football on show in the first half continued after the break but Egypt re-emerged as the stronger side and began to show their class, with perhaps the best chance falling to Chelsea’s Salah who really should have scored at the back post after Jamaica ‘keeper Jacomeno Barrett had deserted his goal.
But Salah made up for this on 72 minutes when he sent in a peach of a cross from the right which was nodded home by Egypt substitute Basem Moursi.
One ex-Orient man made way for another as the game entered the final 10 minutes, with Loza replacing goalscorer Dawkins for Jamaica as they went in search of a winner.
Neither side looked content with a draw, eager to send their fans home cheering the loudest, which set up a grandstand finish. However both defences stood firm before referee Anthony Taylor brought a thoroughly entertaining spectacle to a close.
JAMAICA: Jacomeno Barrett, Adrian Mariappa, Wes Morgan, (Lloyd Doyley, 80), Hughan Gray,, Kemar Lawrence, Rodolph Austin (C), Joel Grant, Simon Dawkins (Jamar Loza, 84), Christopher Humphrey, Michael Seaton (Dino Williams, 77), Romario Campbell (Nicholas Beckett, 62)
SUBS: Ryan Thompson, John-Ross Edwards, Nicholy Finlayson, Upston Edwards
GOALS: Dawkins (27) Grant (37)
BOOKINGS: Loza (88)
EGYPT: Ahmed El-Shenawi, Aly Ghazal, Ahmed Saeid “Oka”, Ahmed El-Mohammadi, Hussin El-Sayed, Mohamed El-Neny, Hossam Ghaly (C), Hossni Abdrabo (Ahmed Sherweda, 64), Mohamed Salah, Ahmed Hamoudi (Saleh Gomaa, 72), Khaled Kamar (Basem Moursi, 46)
SUBS: Essam El-Hadary, Mohamed El-Shenawi, Mohamed Awaad, Shawqi El-Saeid, Ali Gabr, Ahmed Dwedar, Mhmoud Ezzat, Ibrahim Abd Elkhalek, Tarek Hamed, Ahmed Hassan “Koka”, Salah Amin
GOALS: El-Neny (4), Moursi (72)
REFEREE: Anthony Taylor