O's scrap to first goalless draw of the season
It was a game that on paper smacked of goals with the league's highest scorers taking on the bottom side who had shipped six in their previous fixture, but Orient were forced to settle for a scrappy point at Meadow Lane in their first goalless draw of the season.
Chances were of a premium for both sides on a sticky pitch in Nottingham, though Orient will perhaps be disappointed not to have taken home all three points after controlling lengthy spells of the second period.
The home side to their credit made life difficult for the O's throughout and looked a threat at times going forwards through their talisman Jamal Campbell-Ryce.
Orient boss Russell Slade was forced into one change from the side that overcame Colchester last weekend with David Mooney missing out through injury and Chris Dagnall replacing him, whilst Scott Cuthbert remained at centre back as Mathieu Baudry continues to recover from a hamstring problem. Meanwhile Jamar Loza returned to take a place on the O’s bench.
The Magpies were eager to bounceback from a 6-0 drubbing at the hands of Rotherham the weekend before as the two sides entered the final dozen games of the season with very different ambitions.
County looked like they meant business in the opening exchanges as new signing Nathan Tyson, on loan from Blackpool, bundled past Cuthbert to get on the end of a long clearance but the Scotsman recovered to make an important block before Tyson blazed the rebound high and wide.
It was a sticky surface at Meadow Lane and Orient struggled to get their free flowing style going as County again pressed and with eight minutes gone Gary Liddle brought an acrobatic save out of Eldin Jakupovic to keep things level.
It looked like it might take a set play to click Orient into gear as a series of long throws from Nathan Clarke caused County problems, with Dagnall going closest from one of them after Cuthbert had flicked on to him lurking at the back post.
Bit by bit, the O’s looked like they were gaining the upper hand as Cox rolled in from the left flank to pick up the ball in more central areas and midway through the first half he dipped a volley over the bar after a neat move down the right hand side.
There more seemed to be more space in midfield following a frantic start from the Magpies though the O’s were still finding it difficult to break down the defensive pairing of Manny Smith and Dean Leacock.
It wasn’t an opening half that will live long in the memory as Orient thought they had had gone close on the half hour mark when Moses Odubajo volleyed against the bar following another Clarke long throw, though the whistle had already been blown by referee Graham Salisbury for a foul against the O’s.
As the half drew to a close there would be one more chance for the industrious Dagnall who headed over a Lisbie cross but it remained level at the interval, a fair result on the balance of play.
Orient came out of the blocks looking brighter and it was that man Dagnall who would have the first chance of the second period too when Gary Sawyer picked him out with a pinpoint cross from the left but the former Barnsley striker struggled to get any momentum on his header that Bartosz Bialkowski gathered with ease.
The home fans seemed to pin their hopes on former O’s winger Jamal Campbell-Ryce and whenever he collected the ball you could feel the atmosphere go up a notch inside Meadow Lane, as was the case seven minutes into the second period when he wriggled in from the right and bent a shot past the upright.
Orient though looked the greater danger going forwards as they began to set up camp in County territory and take the game to the home side.
Romain Vincelot threatened with a shot from distance and Dagnall remained a pest in the penalty area as the Orient fans again found their voice as they smelt a winner.
The O's did not have it all their own way though as it was the home side who went closest to breaking the deadlock when Campbell-Ryce latched onto a Tyson cross but could only angle his shot narrowly wide of the target.
Shaun Batt entered the fray with 20 minutes to go and his presence almost immediately triggered a goal when Vincelot knocked down for Cox who could only hit his shot straight at the goalkeeper.
The presence of Batt with his pace and awkward frame seemed to spread panic in the home side's back four as he hurtled around the opposition half turning lost causes into opportunities though Orient were restricted to half chances as time ticked away and County to their credit remained a threat largely through Campbell-Ryce.
Notts: Bialkowski, Dumbuya, Sheehan (C), Liddle, Smith, Leacock, Grealish, McGregor, Mullins, Campbell-Ryce, Tyson
Subs not used: Spiess (GK), Waite, Murray, Fotheringham, Hollis, Boucaud, Dixon
Bookings: Mullins (65)
Orient: Jakupovic, Omozusi, Sawyer, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Cox, James, Lisbie, Odubajo, Clarke (C), Dagnall (Batt 71)
Subs not used: Larkins (GK), Lasimant, Bartley, Loza, Simpson, Ness
Bookings: Odubajo (29) Batt (89)
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Attendance: 4680 (867)