Wright nets late leveller in six-goal thrillerIn a fine Easter feast of football Orient came from 3-1 down to pick up what could be a valuable point in front of the biggest home crowd of the season.
It had all started well with Lloyd James’ 30th minute penalty, but Gillingham came from behind as McGlashan tapped in an equaliser, before the visitors led just before the break through Cody McDonald’s header.
He then doubled his tally from the spot in the second period before game changer Darius Henderson volleyed home on 67 minutes, and Josh Wright was the man of the moment five minutes from time to secure a point for the hosts.
Orient made five changes to the side which beat Coventry 1-0 on Wednesday with James making his first start since breaking his leg in September, while Dean Cox, David Mooney, Andrea Dossena and Ryan Hedges also came in to the starting line-up.
It was a frenetic start, with the O’s forcing an early corner but that was only cleared to Cox and his header was tipped over by former Orient goalkeeper Glenn Morris.
But Gillingham were almost in front a minute later when Dossena’s misplaced pass allowed McGlashan to bear down on goal, however, rather than squaring for an unmarked Cody McDonald, he shot wide of the target.
Bradley Dack glanced a header just wide of the far post from a teasing free-kick as Gills recovered from their initial slow start.
The game continued to deliver action in the early stages and another ball into the box from Cox found the head of Dagnall but his header flashed just wide.
Unsurprisingly the pace died down after an action-packed start but Orient produced a great counter attack on 25 minutes and it all started with Cox down the left, before it eventually found Hedges in the centre but his attempted pass through to Mooney was just too far ahead of the striker.
The O’s began to dominate once again and Cox tried his luck from 20 yards, but his shot took a deflection and it looped comfortably into the hands of Morris.
And they had the perfect opportunity to take the lead on the half hour mark when Hedges mounted an attack down the right, cut back inside and was tripped by Max Ehmer.
Referee Mark Haywood pointed to the spot, and fittingly James fired a superb penalty into the top right hand corner of Morris’ net to give the O’s the lead.
But that advantage didn’t last long though as two minutes later the visitors were level when a corner was swung in deep and played to McGlashan who was there to apply the finishing touch.
Gillngham started to build on the equaliser and as the half drifted to a close, Loft had space outside the box and fired an effort just wide of the target.
And they went ahead with just two minutes left on the clock in the first period as Dack’s ball in found McDonald and he expertly headed past Cisak into the bottom corner.
And they almost made it 3-1 when some further confusion in the O’s box resulted in Cisak superbly denying Luke Norris after he unleashed a curling effort from just outside the box as Orient went into the break 2-1 down.
Orient got off to a slow start in the second period and could have been further behind when Norris’ shot was tipped away by Cisak and then Hessenthaler’s effort was well saved again by the O’s keeper.
The hosts survived the early pressure and a neat free-kick from Dossena was bundled across by Mooney however, the visitors were able to see out the danger.
Gillingham went up the other end though and a lovely bit of skill from Dack almost resulted in a third when he jinked the ball back inside and curled an effort wide.
And the Kent side increased their lead on 56 minutes when Norris was brought down in the box by Lowry and referee Haywood had no doubts in pointing to the spot.
McDonald lashed the penalty down the middle and it was now a mountain to climb for the hosts if they were to find a way back into the match.
Hedges was denied by a smart stop from Morris as Orient went in search of an immediate response.
However O’s did get that lifeline after sub Darius Henderson was played in by Dagnall and though his initial shot was saved by Morris the striker reacted quickly and volleyed home the rebound on 67 minutes.
Henderson was having a big impact off the bench and he found Dagnall who run through on goal and he tried to offload it to an unmarked Cox, however, Egan was able to get a decisive touch on it to steer it away from goal.
Dack was lively for the Gills and he fired another effort just wide as O’s continued to push forward for an equaliser.
Cisak denied Dack once more after he flicked on Loft’s deep free-kick, as the game began to heat up once more in the closing stages.
Chances continued to come thick and fast and Dossena’s ball in on 78 minutes was nodded back across goal by Dagnall but Henderson’s headed effort was off target, before Cisak kept out Norris’ low effort from an acute angle.
Dagnall thought he had given the O’s an equaliser with little over 10 minutes remaining as a threaded pass was raced on to by the top goalscorer and Morris came out to rush the striker into a shot which ended up hitting the side netting.
Cisak was keeping the hosts in the game as he expertly denied McDonald with another fine header having kept out Norris just before.
This encounter kept on giving and from another quick attack, the ball found McAnuff and he turned and shot but fired his effort against the post.
And Wright proved to be a hero once again for the O’s as the game entered the 85th minute as the ball fell to Wright in the box and he curled a low effort into the bottom corner to send the home fans delirious.
Chances continued to come and the hosts had to be thankful for a fine block from Cuthbert denied Dack who had just fired an effort goalwards.
Five minutes of injury time came and went and despite a late push for both sides this fine advert for League One football ended all square
ORIENT: Cisak, Dossena (Clarke 88’), Lowry, Baudry, Cuthbert (c), Cox, James, Wright, Hedges (McAnuff 60’), Dagnall, Mooney (Henderson 55’).
SUBS: O’Neill, Simpson, Woods, Taylor.
BOOKINGS: Baudry 65’
GOALS: James 30’ (pen) Henderson 67’ Wright 85’
GILLINGHAM: G Morris, Egan, Ehmer, Legge (Hoyte 78’), Loft, Hessenthaler (A Morris 82’), McDonald, McGlashan, Norris, Bell, Dack.
SUBS: Nelson, Marquis, Muldoon, Dickenson, Freiter.
BOOKINGS: McGlashan 34’
GOALS: McGlashan 36’ McDonald 43’ McDonald 57’ pen.
Attendance: 6394 (1191 away)