Danny Cashman gave the visitors the lead just before the break, before Louis Dennis headed home to take the match into a penalty shootout. Orient’s progress in the trophy now hinges on the outcome of the tie between Wimbledon and Southend next week.
This fixture presented Carl Fletcher with the perfect opportunity to shuffle his pack and give valuable minutes to players that have so far been on the fringes in his previous three games in charge, as he made eight changes to the side that lost out at Morecambe.
Central midfielder, Hector Kyprianou, came in for his full debut alongside Craig Clay, who captained the side in Josh Coulson’s absence. Jamie Turley returned to the O’s starting lineup for the first time since playing 45 minutes of the FA Trophy final last season.
Orient had the first real chance of the game in the sixth minute, when a slick passing move finished with Jordan Maguire-Drew firing a long-range effort just over.
Brighton’s first effort came in the 12th minute, when Danny Cashman sprang the offside trap and got a shot away that beat Sam Sargeant but crashed off the woodwork. Ben Wilson then tucked in the rebound, only for the linesman to cut celebrations short by raising his flag.
The Seagulls had another opportunity just before the half hour mark, when Peter Gwargis’ free-kick deflected straight back to his feet off the wall, which then allowed him to hit a sweet strike that Sargeant did well to keep out.
The visitors were ahead five minutes later though, Ted Jenks played a ball in behind to Cashman, who finished high into the roof of the net to give his side the lead.
Orient responded well to that setback and came close to equalising moments later through Maguire-Drew, but former O’s keeper David Button was equal to his well struck free-kick.
The O’s trailed going into the half time break and made a bright start to the second half when James Alabi fired narrowly over from a tight angle.
And they came so close to restoring parity in the 53rd minute. Myles Judd pulled a cross back to Louis Dennis on the edge of the six-yard box, but the winger’s effort was cleared off the line by Archie Davies.
Seeking an equaliser, Fletcher made a double change on the hour mark with Dan Happe and James Dayton replacing James Brophy and Jamie Turley.
That equaliser then came minutes later when, after some nice build up play in and around the box, Dennis headed home from Maguire-Drew’s pinpoint cross.
Following that goal, The O’s continued to push for a second and came closest when Dayton’s curled effort cracked off the near post with ten minutes left to play.
The away side then had a decent chance to win it but were thwarted by an excellent block from Marvin Ekpiteta that denied Cahsman a second goal of the game.
With three minutes left on the clock, the woodwork once again denied Orient as Maguire-Drew’s effort from the edge of the box rattled the crossbar.
Orient couldn’t come much closer to finding a winner than they did deep into added time.
First, Dennis and Maguire-Drew both had efforts cleared off the line by covering Brighton defenders. Then, Alabi found space on the left-hand side and rifled a shot towards Button’s goal which had the Seagulls keeper beaten all ends up, only for it to cannon back off the post.
They proved to be final chances of the match as the game finished 1-1, which meant a penalty shootout was required to earn an extra point.
Maguire-Drew slotted home the first spot kick, before Sargeant denied Cochrane with a fine save. Clay then Davies both scored their penalties for their respective sides.
Dennis was the first to miss for Orient, but he was bailed out by another great save from Sargeant who denied Jenks. Alabi then fired in his penalty via the post, before ‘keeper Button struck one straight down the middle to take the shootout to the distance.
Dayton stepped up and finished precisely into the right-hand corner to earn the extra bonus point for the O’s.
ORIENT: Sargeant, Judd, Ekpiteta, Turley (Happe 60”), Ogie, Maguire-Drew, Clay (C), Kyprianou, Brophy (Dayton 60”), Dennis, Alabi
SUBS: Janata, Widdowson, Coulson, Sweeney, Wright
BOOKED: Clay 55”, Happe 65”
GOALS: Dennis 63”
Brighton: Button, Baluta, Richards (Yapi 84”), Cochrane (C), Davies, Gwargis, Roberts (Leonard 88”), Cashman, Jenks, Wilson (Vukoje 70”), Tsoungui
SUBS: McGill, Yapi, Radulovic, Cocoracchio, Leahy
BOOKED: Cochrane 90”, Yapi 90”
GOALS: Cashman 34”
REF: Kevin Johnson