O’s midfielder Josh Wright was the hero in E10 once again as his 94th minute header snatched a point in an enthralling encounter with Port Vale this afternoon.
It was a carnival atmosphere at The Breyer Group Stadium as drums and trumpets from Waltham Forest’s Borough of Culture 2019 celebrations filled the air prior to kick-off.
‘Carnival Fantastico’ didn’t stop when the whistle was blown though, Wright heading home after just three minutes. Conor Wilkinson picked the ball up on the right flank and floated a cross towards Wright in the middle and the midfielder headed into the bottom corner, sparking a vibrance of noise around the stadium.
John Askey’s visitors haven’t had a great start to life on the road but their determination to change that was clear to see as they battled hard to get a quick equaliser, Tom Pope rising highest in the 15th minute to meet David Worrall’s dangerous cross but heading just over.
The Vale did secure their equaliser in the 24th minute, despite Dan Happe appearing to be pulled down as Worrall entered the box, Gibbons’ shot forced a good save from Dean Brill but the rebound by substitute Scott Burgess was deflected past the O’s stopper.
It was unrelenting pressure from the visitors as we reached the midway point of the first half and while one corner was just about cleared away by Ekpiteta, the follow-up dropped to veteran defender Leon Legge to side-foot the Valiants ahead.
Gibbons almost found the net himself after 37 minutes as he picked up the ball in space and hit a driven effort towards the far post, flying just millimetres wide.
The O’s forced a good save from Scott Brown just minutes before the break, Louis Dennis stepping up to a free-kick around 30-yards from goal and his effort was heading into the bottom corner but for Brown’s save.
Matt Harrold replaced Marvin Ekpiteta at the interval as the O’s moved to a defensive back-four for the second half.
Dan Happe celebrated his 21st birthday and he had the perfect opportunity to celebrate from a Josh Wright corner as he lost his marker but he placed his header over the bar.
The O’s did equalise in the 60th minute as a George Marsh cross into a crowded penalty-area was headed away, only into the path of Conor Wilkinson at the edge of the box, he took one touch and curled it into the far top corner to celebrate his second goal in as many games.
That goal sparked the Breyer Group Stadium into life as an edge developed amidst the big atmosphere, Gibbons and Legge were booked for the visitors for an off-the-ball incident with Wilkinson, who was also carded, before Louis Dennis saw yellow moments later for a late challenge.
A rare foray forward in the second half for the visitors saw David Worrall prod wide at the back post after a dangerous cross.
However, their next voyage forward appeared to prove costly for the O’s as they failed to clear a set-piece in the box and Jake Taylor came up with a moment of magic to curl an effort into the far top corner. A wonderful goal but a bitter blow for the O’s who’d been so good throughout the second half.
However, six minutes of added time provided some hope for the O’s and it was Josh Wright who came up with the goods again, Maguire-Drew sending in a great cross and the midfielder was there to direct a brilliant header in off the post! That goal was Wright’s fourth of the season, all coming in E10.
Conor Wilkinson almost won the game in the final moments as he curled an effort from distance towards the far corner which forced an excellent fist away from Scott Brown.
The whistle went after a thrilling second-half with the Orient gaining a point that their strength of character deserved.
LEYTON ORIENT: Brill, Ling, Widdowson, Ekpiteta (Harrold 46’), Coulson (C), Clay (Brophy 58’), Wilkinson, Happe, Dennis (Maguire-Drew 71’), Marsh, Wright
UNUSED: Sargeant, Gorman, Ogie, Alabi
GOALS: Wright (3’) (90+4′), Wilkinson (60′),
BOOKED: Wilkinson (65’), Dennis (66’), Marsh (84’)
PORT VALE: Brown (GK), Gibbons, Crookes, Joyce, Legge, Worrall, Oyeleke (Burgess 15’), Pope (C) (Bennett 73’), Smith, Taylor, Amoo (Lloyd 89’)
UNUSED: Maddison, Kennedy, Lloyd, Brisley, Archer
GOALS: Burgess (23’), Legge (28’)
BOOKED: James Gibbons (65’), Leon Legge (65’)