O's overcome below par first half to gain a point and maintain historic unbeaten start
ORIENT stretched their unbeaten start to 10 games as a transformed second-half performance saw Russell Slade’s side come from behind to overturn a first half deficit – the first time the O’s have been behind at the interval this season – to take a point from Boundary Park.
Charlie MacDonald haunted his former club with a first half strike against a below par Orient, though Kevin Lisbie levelled for the O’s in the second period thanks in part to the introduction of the explosive Shaun Batt. However it could be one for the dubious goals committee after it looked like the latter may have steered it home.
Slade was forced to make one change to the side that draw with Walsall last weekend as Marvin Bartley made his first league start in place of the suspended Romain Vincelot.
It was an uncharacteristically sluggish first half from the O’s who made a bright enough start after Moses Odubajo fired the first warning shot with a volley from distance after David Mooney’s knock-down in to his path.
The O’s looked content to go from back to front in the opening exchanges as Odubajo looked an early threat again down the right side with a couple of dangerous crosses into the box.
It was the home side though that seized the momentum as James Dayton looked to get on the ball as much as possible and cut in from the right hand side. Joseph Mills looked dangerous too with his set plays and forced Jamie Jones into action midway through the half with a curling free-kick from 35 yards that the O’s stopper tipped behind.
The effort seemed to galvanise the home side and from the resulting corner Orient failed to clear and MacDonald spun and smashed an effort against the post with Jones beaten.
It was a warning sign for the O’s and four minutes later MacDonald again should have grabbed the lead. Jones spilled a shot from Mills that MacDonald looked set to stroke home but somehow he got his feet in a mess and the chance was squandered.
Having missed two, the former O’s forward wasn’t about to waste another and with 35 played he latched on to a ball in the right channel and fired past Jones to give the home side a deserved lead.
The O’s were on the back foot but managed to summon some momentum for the final five minutes of the half.
They waited 41 minutes for a clear-cut opportunity and then two came along at once. Firstly Odubajo swapped passes with Dean Cox and found himself bearing down on goal but was denied on the angle by Mark Oxley who spread himself at the winger’s feet. From the resulting corner, Mathieu Baudry rose highest but Oxley reacted quickly to stop the ball before it was somehow scrambled to safety.
Russell Slade would have welcomed the half-time whistle and his side took the opportunity to regroup and came out for the second period with more urgency as the opening exchanges were played out largely in the Latics’ half.
However it was Lee Johnson’s side that created the first chance of note when Jones beat away Danny Philliskirk’s drive before James Wesolowski almost put the rebound in.
The fluidity was returning to Orient by the minute though and the front pairing of David Mooney and Lisbie were starting to link up with the chemistry they have displayed on so many occasions this season, however Oxley was still largely an observer in the Oldham goal.
It was the introduction of Shaun Batt on 65 minutes that provided to be a turning point as the forward had an instant impact when he galloped down the right hand side before releasing Lisbie. The O’s forward unleashed a shot which Batt – who had continued his run – appeared to step over the ball before it flew into the bottom corner.
Oldham were fuming as they believed Batt had deflected the ball in from an offside position though the referee awarded the goal to Lisbie.
The goal was just what the O’s needed as they started to control the game with Lloyd James in midfield binding the play and Batt continuing to cause problems.
It was the substitute who set Lisbie in again on 77 minutes as Oxley again came to the rescue as the urgency returned to Orient. Rather than run down the clock, Orient were not content with a point and surged forward as the clock ticked down. The story remained all-square, though it will feel more like a point gained than two lost for Russell Slade’s side who are now ten unbeaten and still top of the table.
Oldham: Oxley, Grounds, Wesolowski, Kusunga, Tarkowski, Smith (C), MacDonald, Lanzoni (Winchester - 13), Dayton (Montano – 75), Mills, Philliskirk (Rooney – 69)
Oldham subs: Clarke-Harris, Rodgers, Millar, Rachubka
ORIENT: Jones, Omozusi, Cuthbert, Baudry, Cox (Batt – 69), James, Lisbie, Mooney, Odubajo, Clarke (C), Bartley (Stockley – 81)
Subs: Sawyer, Larkins, Lee, Lasimant, Gorman
Bookings: Baudry (33), Odubajo (57)
Attendance 4062 (295 away)