Orient prove they’re a match for Premier League side QPR with just over a week to go before the new seasonThe O’s scored with just over five minutes remaining to hold a strong Queens Park Rangers team to a draw at Brisbane Road tonight.
Romain Vincelot gave Orient an early lead on 10 minutes when he diverted Dean Cox’s teasing delivery from the right with an accurate header from 12 yards.
QPR leveled the tie nine minutes later when Junior Hoilett sent a low drive flying into the bottom left corner of the net but the O’s were much the better side throughout the opening period.
Joey Barton showed a glimpse of the quality he possesses after the break, curling a delightful free-kick into the top corner but Orient continued to look strong and were rewarded for their efforts when man-of-the-match Cox slotted home the equaliser on 84 minutes.
In what was Orient’s first home game of pre-season Russell Slade named a largely familiar line-up, with goalkeeper Gary Woods and versatile midfielder Bradley Pritchard the only new faces in the starting XI having both joined on free transfers earlier this month.
The same was true of visitors QPR who fielded a side full of household names – including Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips, Rob Green and Charlie Austin – as they stepped up their preparations for the new season after gaining promotion to the Premier League in May.
A quiet opening 10 minutes to the match was soon forgotten when Orient took the lead with a goal of real quality.
Cox’s ability to drift infield unnoticed from his left-wing berth caused League One defences endless problems last season and he proved his work off the ball could do the same kind of damage against higher pedigree opponents today in the build-up to the opening goal.
Just moments after sliding a lovely pass through to Kevin Lisbie, who was unable to find a man with his cut-back, Cox appeared on the right flank and curled in a perfect cross which was met by the head of Vincelot who had ghosted between the R’s defence to send a glancing header beyond Green.
The visitors were stunned and Orient continued to dictate the play in the aftermath of their goal. However steady build up play from Harry Redknapp’s side led to them pulling level on 19 minutes when Hoilett fired low past Woods from 20 yards out.
The Canada international’s goal meant both teams had scored before either goalkeeper was asked to make a save, but neither Wood nor Green could do much about the only attempts they faced in the opening 20 minutes.
O’s defender Scott Cuthbert was unfortunate to be forced off through injury midway through the half but his replacement, Shaun Batt, became the main source of creativity for the home side.
The rangey forward, who was being deployed on the right wing, sent both Cox and Kevin Lisbie free inside the box but both were denied by good saves from Green as the away side struggled to cope with the O’s movement in the final third.
Other than a couple of tame efforts from lone striker Austin, QPR caused Orient’s back four few issues throughout the first half, with the home side’s attack looking far more lively than their opposite numbers and the O’s would have been disappointed to go into the break on level terms.
However the visitors found themselves in front for the first time in the game when skipper Barton curled a free-kick into the top left corner of the net. The goal came immediately after half-time and was not entirely deserved, but the class of Barton’s strike could not be denied.
Chances were few and far between until the hour-mark when the game began to open out slightly.
Frankie Sutherland, who spent a brief spell on loan with Orient last season, provided Austin with a gilt-edged chance on 65 minutes but the striker was denied by a strong save from Woods in the O’s goal.
David Mooney and substitute Chris Dagnall combined well twice in quick succession shortly after Woods kept their side in the game. First Dagnall sent Mooney through on goal before last season’s top-scorer returned the favour for his strike partner moments later, however Green was alert on both occasions and did well to hold on to each strikers’ shot.
Orient continued to grow as the game went on and when Batt – who remained lively on the right wing – drew a free-kick midway inside the R’s half with little over five minutes left on the clock, Orient were able to get men forward in search of a late equaliser.
And they managed the find the goal their performance deserved thanks to a trademark strike from Cox, who picked up the loose ball on the edge of the area before firing into the bottom left corner of the net via the slightest of deflections.
Orient looked sharp, focussed and full of energy throughout the 90 minutes and will be encouraged by the fact they were the better side against Premier League opposition ahead of their final pre-season game against Ipswich Town at Brisbane Road this Saturday.
ORIENT: Woods, Cuthbert (Batt, 23), Baudry (Okuson, 46), Clarke (C), Omozusi, Pritchard, James, Vincelot, Cox, Mooney (Kashkett, 81), Lisbie (Dagnall, 67)
SUBS: Legzdins, Semedo, Agyemang, Lee, Nikolaou
GOALS: Vincelot (10)
QPR: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Caulker (Harriman, 62), Ehmer, Traore, Wright-Phillips, Barton, Henry, Hoilett (Sutherland, 62), Austin
SUBS: Lumley, Doughty, Kpekawa, Comley
GOALS: Hoilett (19), Barton (47)
REFEREE: Darren Deadman
ATTENDANCE: 2,996 (742)