Unsurprisingly following consecutive wins, Ross Embleton made just the one change from the victory last time out at Stevenage. One of the goal scorers at the Lamex Jordan Maguire-Drew, the man chosen to replace Ruel Sotiriou in the starting eleven after the Cypriot suffered a head injury in Hertfordshire.
Exeter came into this one unbeaten in their last seven in all competitions and made a fast start in east London, both Matt Jay and Jake Taylor having shots at goal in the opening minutes.
However, it would be the O’s who would take an early lead. A superb flowing move saw James Brophy find space down the left and deliver a cross to the far post where Craig Clay was waiting, the midfielder then squared the ball across the face to Wilkinson who tapped in to net his sixth of the season in the fourth minute.
Making his third consecutive start, skipper Jobi McAnuff looked up for it in the early stages. Looking to test Jokull Andresson, the debutant ‘keeper in the Grecians goal, the 38-year-old fired two efforts from range narrowly wide following the opener.
Matt Taylor’s side grew into the half, Jay once again involved as he forced Lawrence Vigouroux into an acrobatic save at his near post in the 27th minute.
But the O’s continued to respond well to the away side’s pressure. Maguire-Drew picked up the ball from Brophy and drove at the opposition defence before unleashing a fierce strike just over Andresson’s near post.
Just before the break, in another attempt to test the young Icelandic ‘keeper, Maguire-Drew swung two in-swinging pieces towards the Exeter net. Andresson did well to palm the first one away and from the following corner JMD struck the crossbar with a looping effort that looked destined to drop in.
Just as they did at the start of the first half, the Grecians came out strongly following the restart. Jake Taylor fired home an equaliser with their first chance of the second period.
Matt Taylor’s side could have gone ahead shortly before the hour mark when a loose pass gifted Josh Key an opportunity, however, the winger could only drag his shot wide of Vigouroux’s far post.
Seeking to shore things up, Embleton made his first change moments later. Joe Widdowson entered the fray to replace Brophy at left back.
A second switch soon followed, Wilkinson the man to make way for Louis Dennis.
The arrival of Dennis saw Maguire-Drew move over to the right-hand side and that alteration came very close to paying dividends. The former Brighton man cutting onto his favoured left foot twice in quick succession to deliver crosses that each time just evaded Dennis at the far post.
Embleton made his final sub in the 87th minute, James Dayton coming on to fill McAnuff’s role in the heart of midfield.
With weary legs on both sides there were little chances of note in the closing stages. The final effort of the match fell to former Orient defender Tom Parkes, though his shot on the turn was bravely blocked by Josh Coulson to deny the visitors a late winner.
ORIENT: Vigouroux, Cissé, Happe, Coulson, McAnuff (Dayton 87’), Clay, Wilkinson (Dennis 68’), Maguire-Drew, Brophy (Widdowson 63’), Akinola, Johnson
SUBS: Sargeant, Turley, Kyprianou, Wright
BOOKED: Wilkinson 22’, Widdowson 63′, Cissé 90’
GOALS: Wilkinson 4’
EXETER: Andresson, Caprice, Sparkes, Taylor, Collins, Williams, Bowman, Parkes, Jay (Randall 79’), Sweeney, Key
SUBS: Lee, McArdle, Law, Seymour, Fisher, Hartridge
GOALS: Taylor 47’
REF: Robert Lewis