In a tense London derby the O’s shared the spoils in a goalless draw at the Hive against Barnet – the first goalless draw involving the O’s since March 2015!
It was a game with few clear cut chances, but the O’s once again showed grit and determination to pick up their first point in four games.
Interim manager Andy Edwards made two changes to the side which lost out 2-0 to Plymouth Argyle on Tuesday with Yvan Erichot returning from injury and Harry Cornick coming in for suspended duo Jens Janse and Robbie Weir respectively.
Gavin Massey lined up in central midfield with Liam Kelly who recovered from the rib injury picked up in Tuesday’s defeat and the O’s got off to a solid start.
Callum Kennedy picked the ball up from 30 yards out and after a run forward forced goalkeeper Josh Vickers to hold a ball which had just bounced in front of the stopper.
Kelly was pulling the strings early on in midfield and a lovely crossfield ball from the skipper found Harry Cornick who took a couple of touches before firing an effort over the bar.
The midfielder was in the thick of the action early on and agonisingly curled a right-footed strike just wide.
It took until 15 minutes for the hosts to force their first opening of the encounter in the blazing sun at the Hive as the ball fell to Luke Gambin on the left hand edge of the box and the Maltese winger was able to get a shot away which Alex Cisak saved with his feet.
Former O’s forward Shaun Batt saw his afternoon brought to a premature end through injury though, and on 29 minutes he was replaced by Curtis Weston.
After a quiet period in the game, the O’s were the next to go close as Cornick’s delivery from the right found McCallum deep in the box and his header back fell invitingly for Kelly to hit first time and his strike was deflected behind for a corner.
The O’s were playing some neat and tidy football on the front foot, and such a move almost resulted in the opener. A throw-in from Kennedy was worked on to an onrushing Massey via McCallum. He in turn played the ball into the path of Simpson who took a first-time effort which was unfortunately straight at Vickers.
It was Barnet however who thought they had taken the lead when a ball in from Gambin was turned in, but referee Darren Handley had spotted a handball in the box from Bira Dembele, who was subsequently cautioned.
Barnet made a further change at the break, with Harry Taylor replaced by Alex Nicholls, while five minutes into the second period saw the injured Harry Cornick taken off and Jordan Bowery on in his place.
Chances were at a premium in the opening exchanges of the second period as Cisak made a regulation save from Akinde, while up the other end a teasing delivery in from Semedo was unable to find anyone in the box.
In a quiet half, Cisak pulled off a fine save as a free-kick from the hosts was only cleared to Sam Togwell and the Aussie stopper was able to keep the effort out despite the strike taking a wicked deflection along the way.
That brought the game to life and Kelly produced another fine ball in for Bowery who took one touch with his back to goal before unleashing a volley which was blocked by the covering Elliott Johnson and behind for a corner.
The game was becoming more tense as time ticked by, with little in the way of goalmouth action. Erichot and Akinde tangled in the box, but referee Handley waved away the Bees appeals.
Barnet were creeping forward and only a fine last-ditch block from Nicky Hunt kept Jean-Louis Akpa Akpro’s effort away from goal.
Ollie Palmer had replaced Simpson with five minutes to go and he came closest to nicking it for the O’s as he found some space just outside the box, however, his effort was held by a full stretch Vickers.
That began a spell of late pressure for O’s and both Palmer and Nnomo saw efforts blocked as both sides appeared to be putting their bodies on the line.
However, neither side were able to break the deadlock late on, and the O’s had to settle for a point ahead of Tuesday’s trip to Southend United in the Checkatrade Trophy.
Barnet: Vickers, Vilhete, Dembele, Nelson, Johnson, Gambin, Togwell, Taylor (Nicholls HT), Campbell-Ryce (Akpa Akpro 71), Batt (Weston 29), Akinde.
Subs: Stephens, N’Gala, Watson, Muggleton.
Booked: Dembele (40)
Orient: Cisak, Hunt, Erichot, Parkes, Kennedy, Massey, Kelly, Cornick (Bowery 50), Semedo (Nnomo 70), McCallum, Simpson (Palmer 85).
Subs: Sargeant, Pollock, Benedicic, Ochieng.
Booked: Parkes (51), McCallum (81), Massey (84)
Attendance: 2,682 (986 Leyton Orient fans)
Referee: Darren Handley.