Orient extend unbeaten run with draw at Mansfield
17:00 12 December 2015
Simon O'Connor Photography
Sky Bet League Two: Mansfield Town 1 Leyton Orient 1
Leyton Orient extended their unbeaten run to five matches after drawing 1-1 with Mansfield Town at Field Mill.
Jay Simpson continued his fine form by scoring for the fourth consecutive League Two match - fresh from winning the Sky Bet player of the month award for November yesterday (Friday).
The Stags equalised before the break, however, despite Ian Hendon’s side dominating much of the first half.
It was the hosts who began the second period the strongest, but neither team was able to score after the interval and both had to settle for a share of the spoils.
Hendon made four changes to the team that started against Scunthorpe United last weekend in the FA Cup.
First choice goalkeeper Alex Cisak and leading marksmen Simpson were back in from the off alongside QPR and Millwall loan men Cole Kpekawa and John Marquis.
It meant Blair Turgott and Jobi McAnuff retained their positions in the starting side as the O’s lined up in a 4-4-2.
Ollie Palmer dropped to the bench against his former club alongside Bradley Pritchard and Charlie Grainger.
Frazer Shaw missed out too, although that was believed to ensure he was fully fit for Tuesday’s FA Cup replay against the Iron.
Another positive for the east Londoners was the return to fitness for Connor Essam after suffering ankle ligament damage in October – he was on the bench at Field Mill.
Mansfield got the match underway, which needed a pitch inspection at 1.30pm by referee Darren England to ensure the pitch was playable.
The O’s won a corner inside the first minute, but it came to nothing at a windy and wet Field Mill stadium.
Craig Westcarr had the first efforts of note for the Stags. The first was blocked after Turgott gave the ball away sloppily and the second sliced well wide.
Orient had edged the opening exchanges and made it count in the 12th minute with a good team move.
Marquis had the ball up well and passed out to McAnuff, on the left. He cut inside skilfully before crossing into the box.
And on hand to score his 16th of the campaign was Simpson, flicking in past Mansfield goalkeeper Brian Jensen to give the O’s the advantage.
Marquis was involved again three minutes later, controlling a pass by Turgott, but firing over from outside the area.
The hosts looked to respond and brief panic occurred in the Orient box when Jean-Yves M’voto allowed the ball to roll past him, but he recovered well and Reggie Lambe’s cross went out for a goal kick.
A stoppage occurred afterwards with Ryan Tafazolli receiving treatment in the 22nd minute for a facial injury.
Play soon resumed, however, and with half an hour played the visitors created another opportunity.
McAnuff, who had looked excellent so far, got to the byline and cut the ball back for Kpekawa.
The QPR man crossed into the box, but Turgott couldn’t get on the end of his delivery and the chance was gone.
Referee England showed the first booking of the encounter to McAnuff for a late, professional foul on Mitchell Rose with eight minutes of the first half remaining.
Orient were in complete control but in the 39th minute Mansfield got back on level terms with a goal from nothing.
Westcarr crossed into the box and Lambe diverted it towards goal with a side footed volley.
Matt Green tried to get a touch on the ball and that was enough to put off Cisak, who was unsighted as the ball rolled into the net off the post. It was very harsh on the O’s who had dominated for the majority of the first half.
Kpekawa received a booking minutes after the goal for bringing down Westcarr before M’voto headed a James corner over the crossbar.
Two minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the half and referee England soon blew his whistle to end the first period.
Orient would have been frustrated at the break to be coming in level after controlling the first 45 at Field Mill.
The away side got proceedings underway after the interval, but it was the hosts who made the better start.
Lambe and Westcarr linked up well and the latter crossed into the box, but Mathieu Baudry cleared away the danger.
Mansfield continued to put the pressure on the O’s goal during the opening minutes of the second period, but the east Londoners stood firm.
After that Hendon’s men began to get on top again with Simpson’s crossing into the box, but failing to pick anybody out.
McAnuff latched onto the loss ball and his centre was cleared to Lloyd James. He took a touch before firing towards goal and his effort was blocked with a hand.
James took the resulting set piece, just outside the Stags penalty area, but it was deflected wide for a corner with what looked like a hand.
Referee England was unmoved and the set piece into the Mansfield box was partially cleared before Kpekawa’s flick on came to Simpson and he volleyed over.
Palmer was introduced in the 64th minute with Turgott making way for the forward, who was booed as he came onto the pitch by the home fans.
Moments later and they were nearly celebrating when Adam Chapman’s corner was met by Krystian Pearce, but the defender headed against the post.
Two minutes after that chance and it was Orient’s turn to attack with Simpson and Palmer linking up well.
The former Mansfield man controlled the ball in the box, looked to make space, but his shot was blocked. The rebound came out to Marquis and he could only fire wide.
After that opportunity the Stags appeared to get a second wind as they started to get well on top.
Ball after ball was going into the O’s box and the visitors were struggling to deal with it, Lambe had a shot deflected wide by McAnuff and it seemed the next goal was going to go to the hosts.
The home fans were getting louder and louder as they sensed their team could get the next goal, but Hendon’s men again stood firm.
Scott Kashket and Pritchard came on with 12 minutes remaining replacing Simpson and Marquis, both of whom had worked extremely hard throughout.
Rose tried his luck from outside the area in the 87th minute, but Cisak got down well to save and hold onto the ball after it bounced off the slick surface.
Three minutes of stoppage time were added on at Field Mill, but both sides seemed happy with a point as we entered the final exchanges.
Mansfield did threaten late on with Baudry misjudging the bounce and M’voto bringing down Green around 40-yards-out.
Despite the Orient defender appearing to be the last man, referee England only showed him a yellow card and the full time whistle followed shortly afterwards.
It means the O’s remain out of the play-off places in ninth, but have extended their unbeaten run to five matches.
Next up for Hendon’s side is the small matter of a second round FA Cup replay at Scunthorpe, with the winner meeting Chelsea in the next round.
Mansfield Town: Jensen, Rose, Pearce, Collins, Chapman, Green, Westcarr (Blair 66), Tafazolli, Lambe, McGuire, Adams.
Unused substitutes: Shearer, Marsden, Beardsley, N.Thomas, Yussuf, J.Thomas.
Leyton Orient: Cisak, Clohessy, Baudry, M’voto, Kpekawa, Turgott (Palmer 64), James, Payne, McAnuff, Marquis (Pritchard 78), Simpson (Kashket 78).
Unused substitutes: Grainger, Shaw, Essam, Dunne.
Attendance: 2,935 (444 Leyton Orient supporters).