access_time 8 months ago

Despite leading twice, Orient were forced to settle for a point in an entertaining affair against Harrogate Town at The EnviroVent Stadium.

All four goals in the game came in the second half, as Conor Wilkinson and Danny Johnson netted their 14th and 20th strikes of the season, but Orient were pegged back on each occasion by efforts from first Dan Jones and latterly Josh McPake.

Interim Manager Jobi McAnuff made two changes from the weekend defeat at Cheltenham. The former Jamaican International brought himself back into the starting line-up alongside Tunji Akinola, in place of Jamie Turley and Joe Widdowson.

Lining up in a 4-3-3 formation, The O’s almost got off to the best possible start in Yorkshire when Dan Kemp delivered a teasing free kick into the box that narrowly evaded the head of Dan Happe.

The home side’s first effort came in the 12th minute as their leading scorer Jack Muldoon broke into the box and dragged one wide of Lawrence Vigouroux’s far post.

Simon Weaver’s team came even closer moments later. Happe failed to deal with Will Smith’s flick on from a corner, former Sunderland forward Jon Stead then blazed over from close range.

Shortly afterwards, Stead found space in the box and forced Vigouroux into action. The Chilean’s save only went as far as Lloyd Kerry, who was waiting just outside the six-yard box, however he failed to keep his strike down.

Harrogate continued to create the better of the chances throughout the first half, only a fine piece of defending from Sam Ling prevented Stead from converting from close range, after Josh Falkingham fired across the face.

Ten minutes before the break, Wilkinson attempted an audacious chip to try and catch out James Belshaw, but it ended up sailing harmlessly over.

Buoyed by that opening, Orient appeared to grow into the game and came close five minutes before the break. A good burst from Craig Clay saw him set Wilkinson away down the right, the former Gillingham man then tried to cut the ball back for Danny Johnson, however the home defence did well to quash the threat.

Immediately after the interval, The O’s shattered the deadlock. An excellent tackle from Happe allowed Wilkinson to break away from deep. The former Irish U21 international eventually ended up just outside the box, where he let fly with a low driven effort that squirmed its way past Belshaw, much to the delight of everyone in red.

Orient could have added a second moments later, with Wilkinson once again involved. The goal scorer laid the ball off to Clay who saw his strike well smothered by a host of Harrogate bodies. From the resulting set piece, Hector Kyprianou failed to make clean contact on Kemp’s low delivery.

The hosts levelled shortly before the hour mark. Dan Jones met George Thomson’s free kick with a header that Vigouroux was unable to keep out.

But five minutes later, thanks to a gift from the home defence, McAnuff’s men were back in front. Thomson miscued a clearance across his own penalty area, then Warren Burrell, in an attempt to head back to his ‘keeper, got it all wrong as Johnson pounced to put his side back in front.

The first Orient change came in the 71st minute, as McAnuff elected to substitute himself, with Nick Freeman the man to enter in his place.

Soon after the home side fluffed a massive chance to restore parity. Happe brought Muldoon down in the box, the forward stepped up to take the spot kick himself but was denied by an excellent stop from Vigouroux.

Though, just a minute later they were level. Connor Hall laid the ball off to Josh McPake in the box, who fired low into the far corner to make it 2-2.

A second Orient change soon followed with Wilkinson replaced by Louis Dennis.

Vigouroux was called into action again ten minutes from time. The Chilean was forced into two smart stops in quick succession from first Thomson and then McPake to keep the home side at bay.

With results going their way elsewhere, The O’s pushed forward in search of what would be a vital late winner. Dennis did well to beat his man down the left-hand side and sent a cross in that was met by Kemp. However, the former West Ham man couldn’t direct his header on target.

McAnuff made a bold switch as he rolled the dice for the final time in the 87th minute.. Kyprianou the player to make way for Tristan Abrahams in an alteration that saw Orient go two up top.

With time running out, Freeman delivered a searching ball towards the back post, where it looked for all the world that Johnson was going to deliver the late winner The O’s so sorely required, but it wasn’t to be as Belshaw denied him with a fine stop from point blank range.

The final chance of an end to end second half fell to the home side. McPake slid Muldoon away inside the penalty area. The forward managed to get a shot off that Vigouroux did well to keep out and ensure his side came away from a topsy turvy affair with at least a point.


ORIENT: Vigouroux, Ling, Akinola, Happe, Brophy, Kyprianou (Abrahams 87’), Clay, McAnuff (Freeman 71’), Wilkinson (Dennis 78’), Johnson, Kemp

SUBS: Sargeant, Widdowson, Coulson, Turley

BOOKED: Johnson

GOALS: Wilkinson 46’, Johnson 63’


HARROGATE: Belshaw, Jones, Falkingham, Smith, Burrell, Thomson, Stead, Kerry, Muldoon, Hall, McPake

SUBS: Fallowfield, Cracknell, Kiernan, Francis, Williams, Andrews


GOALS: Jones 58’, McPake 75’


REF: Anthony Backhouse