Despite the O’s being a goal down at the interval, Alex Lawless and Brian Saah’s side managed to find an equaliser and secure an important point at the Whitbread Playing Fields.
Following the O’s recent defeat to Woking in the FA Youth Cup, Brian Saah spoke of the importance of bouncing back from a negative result. Antony Papadopoulos had a helping hand in doing so, as his 53rd-minute strike levelled the scores.
It was a gloom start to the morning over in east London, as Bryan Ifeanyi was brought down following a late challenge. The Orient winger was forced to hobble off the pitch to receive treatment but ultimately didn’t return to the game.
Orient’s morning then took another dark turn, as Gillingham managed to convert after 22 minutes.
Reggie Pegrum was unfortunately muscled off the ball by a Gillingham attacker, who later released a pass to his fellow striker who converted past Connor Hunt to gives the Gills the lead.
The O’s headed into half-time trailing by a goal but it was certainly Orient who started the second half as the brighter side.
It took just eight minutes for Orient to find an equaliser, through a spectacularly taken effort from O’s captain Papadopoulos. From his left-back position, Harrison Sodje drove inwards with the ball and later back heeled a pass towards Papadopoulos, who converted into the top right-hand corner.
With their lead lost, Gillingham went looking for a second. With eight minutes left to play, the away side found the back of the net, but the O’s were handed a lifeline, as the linesman raised his flag for offside.
With just minutes left to play, Gillingham were desperate for a winner, but Orient’s Hunt stood firm and denied the Gills on multiple occasions. Many thanks to Hunt’s cat-like reflexes in the dying moments, the O’s managed to earn a point from this EFL Youth Alliance fixture.