A Kenny Clark own-goal after great work from James Brophy brought the O’s level after 31 minutes to cancel out Corey Whitely’s opener.
Head Coach Justin Edinburgh made four changes to the side who lost 3-2 at Gateshead in the FA Trophy Quarter-Final replay on Tuesday night.
George Elokobi came into the defence while Sam Ling earnt his first home start since re-joining the club in February. In midfield, Craig Clay replaced Lamar Reynolds while Dan Holman started ahead of David Mooney in attack as the O’s lined up in a 4-4-2 formation.
Orient travelled to Ebbsfleet for the reverse fixture on November 11th losing 2-1 in front of the television cameras, with first half goals from Andy Drury and Danny Kedwell cancelling out a late James Dayton strike.
It was a bright opening five minutes of the match with Ebbsfleet coming out of the blocks quickly. However, Orient began to settle in possession and breached the Fleet defence with James Brophy seeing his low cross deflected behind for an early corner.
On nine minutes, Josh Koroma’s curling free kick was comfortably dealt by Ebbsfleet goalkeeper Nathan Ashmore. Then, the O’s best chance came four minutes later when Koroma drilled a low ball across the box, Macauley Bonne looked certain to tap home before a deflection took the ball away from the striker.
With quarter of an hour played, Ebbsfleet broke the deadlock courtesy of Cory Whitely who found himself with only Dean Brill to beat and drilled a fierce strike underneath the O’s keeper to give the Kent side a 1-0 lead.
The visitors were fired up after their opener and could have doubled their lead when Luke Coulson beat Ling on the right side before flashing his effort wide of the mark. At the other end, Orient came close to notching an equaliser when Ebou Adams volleyed past the post.
Having shown signs of promise, Orient succeeded in finding a leveller just after the half hour mark. Ling played a sublime pass into the path of Brophy on the left who drilled the ball across goal and watched it fly into the net off Fleet defender Kenny Clark to lift the atmosphere inside Brisbane Road.
It was turning into a physical battle as half time approached with strong tackles and aerial duels making for a real contest with the scores all tied. Orient had momentum on their side and were pushing intently for a second goal before the half was out.
However, Ebbsfleet could have regained the lead on 44 minutes when Andy Drury ended up one-on-one with Brill only to see his looping effort drop wide of the target.
At the break, Orient were left to reflect on a slow start but gradually grew into the game and finished the first half on top. Ebbsfleet began brightly and got the opening goal but would have been frustrated to let their lead slip.
It was an open start to the second half with both sides coming out of the blocks quickly. For Orient, Bonne had a penalty shout waved away before Holman’s effort was blocked by the feet of Sam Magri. On 56 minutes, Koroma came close from a long-range free kick which dipped just wide of an outstretched Ashmore and the right-hand post.
With 62 minutes played, Orient made their first substitution of the afternoon with Mooney replacing Holman in a like-for-like swap. For the visitors, Whitely came close to doubling his tally for the day when he diverted a header from Jack Connors’ cross wide of the mark.
On 72 minutes, Clark received the first booking of the match after a late challenge on Brophy, the competitive nature of the game had intensified with both sides chasing a winning goal. Then, Orient made their second change of the afternoon with Koroma making way for Reynolds in midfield.
For Fleet, substitute Jack Powell forced Brill into a smart save from a free kick before Mooney was unable to pick out Bonne in space at the other end. With ten minutes to play, it promised to be a nervous end to the match for both sets of supporters.
Ebbsfleet collected their second booking of the match on 85 minutes when Jack Payne brought down Brophy in the middle of the park. Soon after, Brophy was at the heart of the action once again when he cut inside and drilled his shot just wide of the post.
With the clock ticking towards the ninety, the fourth official indicated four additional minutes for either side to snatch a winner, but it wasn’t to be as the game ended level at 1-1.
ORIENT: Brill, Caprice, Elokobi, Bonne, Koroma (Reynolds 75’), Coulson (C), Clay, Brophy, Holman (Mooney 62’), Adams, Ling.
SUBS: Grainger, Ekpiteta, Harrold.
GOALS: Clark OG (31’)
EBBSFLEET UNITED: Ashmore, Connors, Rance, Winfield, Clark, Drury (Shields 55’), Kedwell, Payne, Magri (Bush 60’), Coulson (Powell 68’), Whitely.
SUBS: Miles, Wabo.
BOOKED: Clark (72’), Payne (85’)
GOALS: Whitely (15’)
ATTENDANCE: 4,127 (546 Ebbsfleet)
REFEREE: Christopher Pollard