O's draw blanks in better defensive display
Orient stopped the rot of home defeats with a 0-0 draw at home to MK Dons. The O's enjoyed the better of the opening 45 minutes and would have been disappointed to head in only level at the interval, whilst they ended up digging in to scrap out a draw after Mathieu Baudry saw red late on for two yellow cards.
Kevin Nugent stuck with the 4-3-3 shape that yielded two positive results last week, although in fairness with numbers so thin on the ground at the moment, he had limited options in terms of the shape.
With numbers dwindling, it was a threadbare bench too for the O's with plenty of youth.
More positively though, Mathieu Baudry returned from injury as Shane Lowry moved to left back and Elliot Omozusi dropped to the bench.
The game began with a frantic tempo as the Dons, a side full of goals and confidence, worked tirelessly to press the O's high up the pitch, yet it was Nugent's side who created the first opening with six minutes played when Jay Simpson scooted down the right and cut back in the direction of Darius Henderson but his ball was put behind for a corner.
Buoyed by his three goals last week, Simpson looked sharp and full of pace early on as Orient settled into a rhythm that pushed the Dons onto the back foot.
The O's were indebted to goalkeeper Gary Woods midway through the half when first of all he dived full stretch to parry Mark Randall's shot from distance before getting back to his feet and brilliantly turning Benik Afobe's follow up effort against the bar.
Randall had brought his shooting boots with him and dipped a volley over two minutes later as the Dons appeared to have weathered the Orient storm.
It was the O's that threatened again though as Jack Price hung a corner up for Simpson that was deflected behind before Shane Lowry almost scored what would have surely been the goal of the season when he let fly with stunning volley from 40 yards that David Martin did brilliantly to tip over.
The best chance game with 10 minutes of the half remaining though when Price showed a touch of class to spray a long ball in to put Batt through on goal but the failed to get it underneath Martin as he looked to tuck it home.
Martin was called into action again as the half ticked towards a conclusion when Henderson curled one with his right foot that was well saved down low to his left.
The deadlock was unbroken as the two sides headed down the tunnel at the interval but Nugent would have been the two bosses as his side had looked lively throughout despite that first goal evading them.
The second period began in a more sluggish, even manner. Orient still posed a threat on the break with the pace and unpredictability of Batt, though he started to tire and was replaced by Dagnall just before the hour mark.
The back four looked more composed at Brisbane Road than they had all season with Lowry dominating at left back and Baudry stepping out to break up the play and launch a fresh attack on countless occasions. Martin the Dons goal was a spectator for long periods however as the majority of the action took place in the middle third of the pitch.
As the final 20 minutes loomed, Nugent waved his troops on from the touchline, eager to ignite the atmosphere in E10. It was finely poised and you had the feeling that it was going to take a touch of magic to settle it.
Simpson showed a great burst of pace to beat his man with 15 minutes to go but there was nobody lurking to turn home his cross, whilst the much talked about Dele Alli for the visitors started to grow in influence with his weaving runs through midfield.
Up front Henderson continued to slug it out with Kyle McFadzean and won a free-kick in a decent area with nine minutes remaining that Simpson whipped narrowly over the bar.
Dons boss Karl Robinson was in uproar with five minutes left when a Dean Bowditch corner led to a number of flailing bodies inside the six yard box though no penalty was given.
Nathan Clarke was handed his fifth yellow card of the season which means he will Tuesday's trip to Doncaster, as Orient had to dig in for the final stages to repel a number of Dons' set plays.
Meanwhile the O's had to play with 10 for the final stages as Baudry picked up two yellow cards in two minutes, meaning Nugent will have a headache selecting his back four on Tuesday night.
It finished all square though and the clean sheet will have pleased Nugent.
ORIENT: Woods, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Baudry, Lowry, Batt (Dagnall 59), Clarke (C), Pritchard, Henderson, Price, Simpson
SUBS: Omozusi, Lee, Kashket, Bartley, Grainger, Ling
BOOKINGS: Clarke 86
RED: Baudry 89 (2 yellows)
MK: Martin, Lewington (C), McFadzean, Kay, Bowditch, Reeves (Grigg 78), Spence, Alli, Randall (Baker 72), Powell (Carruthers 81), Afobe
SUBS: Flanagan, McLoughlin, Hitchcock,
BOOKINGS: Randall 61, Kay 77, Afobe 90, Grigg 90
ATTENDANCE: 5,014 (713)
REF: G HORWOOD