Goals from Jordan Bowery and Andy Cook had put the Stags two goals up before Danny Johnson notched to put the O’s back in it and Sotiriou bagged a late leveller at The Breyer Group Stadium.
Ross Embleton made seven changes from the comeback win over Plymouth Argyle in mid-week. Tuesday’s match winner, Johnson came in up top alongside Sotiriou and the birthday boy, Jordan Maguire-Drew. While Dan Happe returned to the defence after missing out against Argyle with a knock.
Having won all four of their opening fixtures, the O’s came into this one brimming with confidence and they made a fast start in E10. After winning a free kick some 25 yards out, Maguire-Drew tested Marek Stech in the Mansfield goal early on with a curled effort.
The game settled into an attritional phase but was sparked into life when James Dayton knocked a ball over the top into the path of Sotiriou. The Cypriot forward latched onto the pass, beat his marker and forced Stech into a smart save at his near post.
The visitors first real chance of the match came in the 24th minute. Orient were almost caught short at the back, however Ouss Cissè did well to delay Mansfield’s break and Lawrence Vigouroux displayed some confident handling to keep a hold of Harry Charsley’s strike from just outside the box.
Following the arrival of assistant coach, Danny Senda over the summer, the O’s have placed a particular focus on set pieces, and that hard work almost paid off in the 32nd minute as Cissé pounced on an error from Stech. However, the Stags’ defence did well to block his effort on the line.
Orient’s best chance of the first half fell to Johnson just before the break. The former Cardiff man is in a rich vein of form after scoring six in his last six, so it was no surprise to see him show some fantastic footwork to turn his marker and strike the base of the post with a snapshot from an acute angle.
In the 52nd minute, the away side took the lead. James Brophy got the wrong side of his marker and gave away a penalty which was calmly dispatched by former O’s striker, Jordan Bowery.
Mansfield almost doubled their lead on the hour mark as Vigouroux was forced into an acrobatic save from Charsley.
Embleton elected to make his first changes of the game shortly afterwards, bringing on Jobi McAnuff and Louis Dennis for Maguire-Drew and Craig Clay.
The O’s looked brighter following the switch, and it was one of the substitutes, Dennis, who had the home side’s first chance of the second half. The winger did well to find space on the edge of the box and flashed a low effort just passed Stech’s far post.
That good spell didn’t last though, as Mansfield doubled their lead moments later. Charsley squared the ball across to Andy Cook and the former Tranmere man steered a low effort into the bottom corner.
Lee Angol replaced Cissé in the 76th minute in Orient’s final alteration.
A spell of continued Orient pressure followed, and they were brought right back into the game by that man again, Johnson. Stech parried an O’s effort from a set piece into the six-yard box and the forward was on hand to pounce and net his seventh in as many games.
Orient have made a habit of scoring late goals this season with one in each of their last three fixtures and they made sure that run continued in this one. Dennis did well to play a pass into the path of Brophy, who dribbled round a couple of Mansfield defenders before eventually setting up Sotiriou for an equaliser to spark jubilant last-minute celebrations in E10 once again.
Referee, David Rock blew the full-time whistle moments later to maintain the O’s’ unbeaten start to the campaign. Next up Tottenham Hotspur…
ORIENT: Vigouroux, Ling, Cissé (Angol 76″), Happe, Coulson, Clay (McAnuff 62”), Maguire-Drew (Dennis 62”), Dayton, Brophy, Sotiriou, Johnson
SUBS: Sargeant, Widdowson, Wilkinson, Thomas
BOOKED: Sotiriou 89”
GOALS: Johnson 82”, Sotiriou 90”
MANSFIELD: Stech, O’Keefe, Benning, Menayese, Sweeney, Rawson, Charsley, Clarke, Bowery, Maris, Cook (Maynard 89”)
SUBS: Stone, Sinclair, Perch, O’Driscoll, Reid, McLaughlin
BOOKED: O’Keefe 55”
GOALS: Bowery 52”, Cook 72”
REF: David Rock