A last gasp Gills winner overshadowed a super Orient performance, as Lawrence Hammond and Brad McClenaghan hit the back of the net.
Taking away the result, The O’s played some of the best attacking football they’ve produced this season; moving the ball quickly and exposing the Gill’s defence.
A lightning fast start saw the O’s the 'keeper in the opening two minutes of the game. Finlay Lovatt held up the ball, before releasing Jordan Adeyemi behind the Gills defence. Adeyemi cut inside before firing across goal with his left foot, only to see the keeper parry his effort.
The home side continued to knock at the door in the early stages. 16 minutes into the game Lawrence Hammond fired wide from a tight angle, after the Gillingham number one spilled Jeremie Sivi’s shot-come-cross.
Hammond hit the target with his next effort, a low effort towards the keepers near post was deflected behind for an Orient corner, after some fine build up play.
Finlay Lovatt nodded wide of the goal from the subsequent corner, getting on the end of Shabani’s in-swinging ball.
With 15 remaining in the half, the visitors looked to test Keeper Aridas Vilinauskas for the first time but their forward fired over from just inside the area.
The O’s were inches away from taking the lead with a stand out passage of play. Shabani won the ball back in his own half before quick one touch football from Young and Lovatt freed Adeyemi on the edge of the area. Shabani received the ball and lifted his effort inches above the crossbar having beat the on-rushing keeper.
Against the run of play the visitors took the lead after 39 minutes. A dubious refereeing decision awarded The Gills a shooting opportunity from 25-yards out. The ball was smashed home putting the visitors 1-0 up at the break.
Following the restart, Hammond threatened again, taking a shot after a reverse ball from Matt Young. The ball was deflected behind but no corner was awarded much to the squads’ frustration.
A deserved equaliser came after 56 minutes. Sivi’s silky run through midfield ended with him playing the ball wide to substitute Brian Ifeanyi; whose first input was to assist Hammond, who volleyed home from ten-yards. A splendid team move with Hammond deservedly getting on the score sheet.
Four minutes later the O’s raced into the lead. A short corner to Sivi, was then wrapped perfectly onto Brad McClenaghan’s head, with the skippers’ faint flick found the bottom corner.
Gillingham equalised ten minutes later from another free-kick. This time, the ball was crossed into the area with it eventually bundled over the line by a blue shirt.
Vilinauskas stood firm to deny the visitors at his near post, clearing the ball with his feet and starting a counter. Seconds later a ball into the box was just too far in front of Ifeanyi, who could only fire wide following an impressive counter.
Vilinauskas was called back into action as the game entered its closing stages. He made a fine stop one-on-one before pressuring the forward into firing his second effort over the bar.
A phenomenal piece of goalkeeping denied Brad McClenaghan from putting his side 3-2 up eight minutes from time. Once again meeting a set piece with his head, the midfielders header looked destined for the net, but the opposition shot-stopper somehow prevented the ball from crossing the line.
With momentum with Orient, the winning goal came as a shock with Gillingham striking in the 89th minute. A ball in behind found a Gills forward, who finished first time over the keeper, to steal his side victory.
Up Next: Forest Green Rovers (A) KO: 11am
ORIENT: Aridas Vilinauskas, Jeremie Sivi, Wynford Marfo (Jayden Young 89”), Trialist A, Jayden Sweeney, Brendon Shabani, Matt Young, Brad McClenaghan, Jordan Adeyemi (Brian Ifeanyi 54”) Lawrence Hammond, Finlay Lovatt (Anthony Papadooukos 73”)
SUBS: Sean Campbell, Kyrell Palmer
GOALS: Hammond 56” McClenaghan 60”