Late leveller denies Orient all three points after gutsy performance in Yorkshire
A last gasp free-kick from Nahki Wells denied Orient another three points on their travels as the O's extended their lead at the top of League 1.
Lloyd James had given the O's lead with a touch of magic in first half stoppage time in an otherwise scrappy opening period, before the O's were dogged and resilient in the second half to come so close to taking all three points.
Russell Slade was forced to start a league game for the first time this season without either of his usual front pairing of David Mooney and Kevin Lisbie as the former missed out through suspension whilst the latter returned from an ankle injury but took a place on the subs bench.
The suspension for Mooney provided Robbie Simpson with a first start for the club since joining on a short-term contract last month.
Meanwhile the back four was more familiar looking as Nathan Clarke returned from a groin problem to skipper the side and Scott Cuthbert was also back in the fold after recovering from a virus to make the trip to a blustery Yorkshire.
That back four had to be on their toes early on as the pacey pair of Kyel Reid and Nahki Wells looked to feed off of the scraps from Bantams target-man James Hanson. Wells looked hungry for his 15th strike of the season and wanted a penalty after going down under a challenge from Romain Vincelot but his cries fell on deaf ears with nine minutes played.
Simpson looked sharp in his first start and was winning more than his fair share in the air as Orient caused problems with some direct balls that swirled in the wind with the former Oldham man and his partner Shaun Batt both having efforts on the Bantams’ goal in the 11th minute.
Six minutes later though the home side had the first gilt-edged chance of the game when Gary Jones curled a free-kick in from the left that Garry Thompson rose to head narrowly wide from six yards.
The chance seemed to energise Orient though with Cox firing over just a minute later before Moses Odubajo had a goal-bound effort deflected just wide after good work from Batt.
The home side looked a threat on the counter and looked to set free Reid whenever possible and he was to go closest just before the half hour mark when he latched onto Mathieu Baudry’s tame clearance and fired a shot that Jones did well to palm over as the Yorkshire side started to gather some momentum.
The pace of Reid was becoming an issue for the O’s as soon after Elliot Omozusi was forced into a rash tackle and yellow card after the Bradford wideman had bulldozed through the Orient backline.
It was Orient though that would seize the lad with a finish of real quality from Lloyd James in first half stoppage time. Dean Cox found the O’s midfielder down the right who turned his man in the channel and opened up his body to bend a wonderful curling strike into the top corner of the net as Orient headed into the interval with the lead.
It was a good time to score but the O’s struggled to get a foothold in the early stages of the second period as Bradford forced them onto the back foot as the home fans found their voices.
With 10 minutes of the second half played the O’s survived a scare when a ball in from the right caused panic before Nathan Doyle latched onto a loose ball and fired a shot in from the edge of the box that was deflected just wide.
Odubajo was the threat for the O’s but it was the goal scorer James who popped up on the right on the hour mark to curl a wonderful cross along the face of goal which was inches away from the studs of Batt who had flung himself towards it at the far post.
The win continued to swirl around the Valley Parade as the O’s back four led by Clarke won ball after ball in the air as the home side looked to find Hanson. The home side were a threat with their long throws and corners into the O’s box but with 20 to play Orient almost doubled their lead.
Batt showed composure to feed Simpson on the right who ran a ball right across the face of goal that Cox could only poke wide at the back post.
It would prove to be Simpson’s last involvement as he made way with 15 minutes to go for the returning Kevin Lisbie.
It was set plays where the home side looked their biggest threat but Orient showed strength of will and character to repel them as Clarke continued to put his body on the line for the cause, supported perfectly by his defensive counterparts.
It was the O’s though that perhaps should have wrapped things up with six minutes to play when Odubajo wriggled down the right before crossing for Batt who scuffed a volley just wide.
With time ticking away however the home side snatched a point when Baudry gave the Bantams a free-kick on the edge of the box. Determined to get his goal, Wells bent it up and over the wall leaving Jones with no chance to make it 1-1 with not enough time for either side to grab a winner.
BRADFORD: McLaughlin, Darby, Meredith, Reid, Hanson, Thompson (Yeates 64), Jones (C), Wells, Bates (Connell 79), McArdle, Doyle (De Vita 79)
SUBS: Ripley (GK), Kennedy, McHugh, McBurnie
GOALS: Wells 90
ORIENT: Jones, Omozusi, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Baudry, Cox, James, Odubajo, Batt (Bartley 84), Clarke (C), Simpson (Lisbie 73)
SUBS: Larkins (GK), Sawyer, Lasimant, Gorman, Wright
GOALS: James 45
BOOKINGS: Omozusi (32) Baudry (90)
Referee: Mark Heywood
Attendance: 14, 292 (374)