Craig Clay’s 78th minute strike ensured a deserved point for the O’s as they held league leaders Dover Athletic to a 1-1 draw in E10.
Nortei Nortey fired the visitors into a first half lead, but Clay was on hand to equalise 12 minutes from time as the O’s dominated much of the second half.
In Ross Embleton’s first game in charge as Interim Head Coach, Orient made five changes as they welcomed the league leaders to the Matchroom Stadium.
Joe Widdowson, Jobi McAnuff, Macauley Bonne, Craig Clay and Sam Sargeant were introduced in to the starting XI in place of Matt Harrold, David Mooney, Zain Westbrooke and Mark Ellis while Charlie Grainger was sidelined due to a hip injury he picked up in the warm-up. Due to Grainger’s withdrawal, Goalkeeper Coach Dean Brill was named on the bench for the first time.
A quick start to the game saw James Alabi force a great save out of Sam Sargeant within the first minute, when the attacker ran through on goal and saw his shot well blocked behind for a corner.
Immediately up the end the O’s were attacking Macauley Bonne’s header from a corner was glanced just over the near post.
Orient attacked again, this time Craig Clay’s through ball to James Brophy allowed the winger to drill in a low cross for James Dayton but the resulting effort was blocked before it could trouble Mitch Walker in the Dover goal.
Dover’s Alabi looked a handful when he bullied his way in to the box before he smashed an effort high over the bar from a tight angle, but Alabi again proved difficult to deal with when his lay off allowed Nortei Nortey to curl home the opening goal of the afternoon.
Minutes after the half hour mark, Jake Caprice’s whipped cross forced a clearance from Mitch Brundle which almost ended up in his own net but luckily for the visitors it flew behind for a corner.
A minute in to the five added on for stoppages Brophy tested Walker from range and the ‘keeper parried the shot back in to Brophy’s patch but the midfielder couldn’t control the rebound and it rolled out for a goal kick.
Both sides returned after the break unchanged from the XI that ended the first half and the two teams created chances within the first ten minutes of the restart but the visitors came closest when Connor Essam headed just over from six yards out.
Soon after, Orient saw two chances go within inches of clinching an equaliser, Bonne’s header was somehow parried in to the air by Walker before Essam blocked Bonne’s second effort off the line.
The O’s continued to press for a leveller as they enjoyed large spells of possession, when Matt Harrold was introduced in place of Alex Lawless.
Orient broke forward from a Widdowson clearance kept alive by Bonne whose header found Dayton. The midfielder then played in Clay who chopped his marker and curled an effort in to the net grabbing the equaliser.
Not content with a draw, Orient continued to push forward in search of a second and with five minutes remaining looked to have taken the lead when Dayton clipped a cross towards the far post for Bonne to direct goalwards, but Dover stopper Walker produced a brilliant save to prevent the ball from crossing the line.
McAnuff then curled a free-kick from the edge of the box over the bar in the first minute of stoppage time, and despite late pressure from the O’s the match finished in a draw.
The O’s are next at home on Tuesday night when we welcome Chester to the Matchroom Stadium.
ORIENT: Sargeant, Caprice, Sendles-White, Happe, Widdowson, Clay, Dayton, Lawless (Harrold 65), Brophy, McAnuff (C), Bonne
SUBS: Brill, Mooney, Ellis, Westbrooke
GOALS: Clay (78)
DOVER: Walker Passley (Fazakerley 44), Ilesanmi, Gallifuoco, Parry, Essam, Brundle (C), Pinnock, Bird (Daniel 76), Nortey, Alabi
SUBS: Richards, Fazakerley, Okosieme, Jeffrey
GOALS: Alabi (23)
BOOKED: Fazakerley (67)
REFEREE: Joe Hull
ATTENDANCE: 4,548 (537)