O's Stop Rot
A first half strike from Mathieu Baudry was cancelled out by a Joe Garner penalty as Orient picked up their first point in four games in a battling display against fourth placed Preston North End.
Baudry had given Orient a lead before the interval after he smashed home a Kevin Lisbie knock-down before he was again involved in the equaliser conceding what looked like a harsh penalty that Garner drilled home.
It was a poignant day at Deepdale as both clubs played their part pre-match in remembering the late Sir Tom Finney, a Preston and England great who sadly passed away the day before the match.
After a wreath was presented to the Finney family from both clubs, there was a minute’s silence for the ‘Preston Plumber’ before play got underway at a blustery Deepdale. The home side also all wore the name ‘Finney’ on the back of their shirts.
Eldin Jakupovic was straight back in-between the sticks for Russell Slade having returned on loan from Hull City, whilst Lloyd James returned in the heart of midfield for Marvin Bartley and David Mooney was partnered up front with Kevin Lisbie. Meanwhile Slade was boosted by the return of Shaun Batt ahead of schedule from a hamstring injury who took up a place on the bench.
It was a line-up that was more familiar with the O’s team that started the season in electric fashion and they almost recaptured that momentum with seven minutes on the clock. Mathieu Baudry lost his man from a James free-kick and would have been bitterly disappointed not to have scored with his volley after he fired straight at Declan Rudd in the North End goal.
The O’s looked far sharper than against Bristol City on Tuesday night with Odubajo afforded room to look a threat down the O’s right as the presence of Jakupovic also seemed to restore an assurance to the O’s defensive play.
Preston looked ever functional as Joe Garner looked a threat and he came close to breaking the deadlock with 19 minutes gone when he volleyed over from a Paul Gallagher corner. The chance seemed to shake Preston into life going forwards and six minutes later skipper John Welsh did well to hold off Baudry before getting a shot away that Jakupovic did well to scramble to safety.
It was an even encounter as the table would suggest though Preston perhaps looked the more dangerous using their extra man in midfield well at times as Gallagher almost beat Jakupovic as the half wore on.
Having been marked tightly in his last three encounters, Odubajo looked Orient’s biggest attacking threat going forwards as he exploited the room given to him by his marker Scott Laird.
It looked as if it would be honours even at the interval but Baudry made amends for squandering his early chance when he broke the deadlock two minutes before the half. Gary Sawyer knocked a long free-kick into the box that Lisbie nodded into the path of Baudry who smashed home his finish emphatically.
The home side pushed Orient onto the back foot as the second half got underway but Orient looked resolute in defence as Sawyer looked far more solid than he had done against Bristol City and Romain Vincelot - sporting a new shorter haircut - was back to his menacing self in front of the O's back four. Skipper Nathan Clarke meanwhile was enjoying a good old fashioned battle with Craig Davies.
Chances remained of a premium though Mooney had a half chance to make it 2-0 just before the hour mark when he raced on to a long ball in the right channel but blazed just wide from a tight angle.
The home side however were handed a way back in it though just five minutes later when Craig Davies fell under a challenge from Baudry in the box. Referee Mr Whitestone pointed straight to the spot and Joe Garner stepped up to drill a low strike beyond Jakupovic to square things up.
The home side smelt blood as the atmosphere went up a notch inside Deepdale. The O's were being forced deeper and deeper as Lisbie made way for Chris Dagnall in an effort to breathe new life into the forward line. The change almost worked straight away as Sawyer looked to put Dagnall in but Rudd charged him down before Vincelot had his rebound deflected away.
Preston were the more dominant though and O's skipper Clarke, fresh from signing a new contract was heroic at times with header after header to clear the danger.
Substitute and former England international Kevin Davies had a wonderful chance to win it with a free header following a peach of cross from Scott Wiseman but he could only glance wide with the goal gaping.
For the O's it was a case of Battman returns as Batt entered the action for the last 10 minutes replacing Odubajo.
It was a case of backs against the wall for the closing stages as Orient, led by Clarke, defended their box heroically at times to see out a hard fought draw and end the run of three straight defeats.
Orient: Jakupovic, Sawyer, Baudry, Clarke (C), Cuthbert, Cox, James, Vincelot, Odubajo (Batt 81), Mooney, Lisbie (Dagnall 70)
Subs: Larkins, Lasimant, Bartley, Simpson, Ness
Goals: Baudry (43)
PNE: Rudd, Keane (Holmes 56), Laird, Clarke, Wright, Gallagher (Brownhill 74), Garner, Davies (K Davies 74), Welsh (C), Wiseman, Kilkenny
Subs: Stuckmann, Beavon, Buchanan, King
Goals: Garner pen (63)
Bookings: Keane (43)
Attendance: 13,440 (372)