It was a tale of two penalties at Meadow Lane as Orient came from behind to grab a point. Zeli Ismail gave the home side a first half lead from the spot before Chris Dagnall showed strength of character to level it at the start of the second period. Orient dominated the second half in terms of possession and chances yet couldn’t quite find what would have been a deserved winner.
O’s boss Russell Slade shuffled his pack as Mathieu Baudry dropped to the bench with Elliot Omozusi re-joining the back four and Shane Lowry moving to centre back. In midfield, Romain Vincelot returned from suspension and Jobi McAnuff took up a place on the left.
The fog started to roll in from the River Trent as the game got underway and it was an open start as both sides had chances in the early stages.
First of all, Scott Cuthbert bounced a header from a McAnuff corner onto the bar before a minute later Zeli Ismail capitalised on a slip from Lowry before firing a whisker wide. David Mooney had the next chance as he found space in the right channel and fired a shot across the face of goal that capped an entertaining opening 10 minutes.
It was a ding-dong opening period but a more gentle rhythm followed but Slade would have been pleased with the way his team started as they controlled much of the possession and started to utilise the lively Michael Petrasso down the right.
The deadlock was shattered though against the run of play. Orient were aggrieved when a free-kick was given against Chris Dagnall on the halfway line. The ball was kicked long into the box and Jake Cassidy tumbled under pressure from O’s skipper Nathan Clarke before referee Gary Sutton pointed to the spot. Ismail was County’s liveliest player and he stepped up to duly slot the spot-kick home.
Orient responded well to going behind and forced a series of corners and free-kicks, with Mooney coming closest from a McAnuff delivery that was flicked on by Clarke.
McAnuff looked bright on the left and went on a rampaging run with 35 minutes gone as he slalomed in from the touchline and drew a foul 25 yards out. Lowry fancied the shot but hit the wall with his effort as County survived.
Orient started the second period brightly as Petrasso grabbed the ball in the middle of the park and let fly from 25 yards before his shot sailed narrowly wide.
They soon had their reward though when Mooney was upended in the box by Curtis Thompson. Four months after missing the crucial spot kick at Wembley in the Play-Off Final, Chris Dagnall showed great composure to send the keeper the wrong way and level the scores.
What a lift the goal gave the O’s who seized the initiative with the travelling fans loud in their ears, Mooney and Omozusi both had tame efforts saved by Roy Carroll before the ever-lively Vincelot galloped down the left and cut it back for the arriving Bradley Pritchard to fire narrowly wide.
It was one-way traffic though and Gary Woods remained a spectator for long periods in the Orient goal. Mooney spun and fired a shot over before he and Petrasso made way for Dean Cox and Darius Henderson with just over 20 minutes to go.
Still the O’s pushed, winning corner after corner, though they would have perhaps been disappointed that they didn’t work Carroll enough in the County goal given their dominance.
Woods had to be alert to a Liam Noble drive with five minutes to go before Orient almost got in front when sub Jay Simpson played in Henderson but the big man dragged his shot wide of the post.
It ended level though to maintain Orient’s unbeaten away record.
COUNTY: Carroll, Smith (C) (Traore 76), Hollis, Ismail, Cassidy, Jones (G Thompson 61), Thompson, Noble, Brown (Murray 45), Cranston, Laing
Subs: Spiess, Dumbuya, McKenzie, Harrad
Goals: Ismail pen 26
Bookings: Laing 72, Cassidy 90
ORIENT: Woods, Omozusi, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Mooney (Henderson 69), McAnuff, Lowry, Clarke (C), Petrasso (Cox 69), Pritchard, Dagnall (Simpson 81)
Subs: Grainger, Baudry, Batt, Bartley
Bookings: Clarke 25, McAnuff 36, Vincelot 90
Goals: Dagnall pen 51
Attendance 4024 (311)