Orient make telling point
21:44 17 March 2015
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Sky Bet League One: Leyton Orient 0 Barnsley 0
Leyton Orient had to settle for a point after an excellent display against in-form Barnsley.
The Tykes arrived in east London on a six-game winning streak, but Fabio Liverani’s side had the better of the chances throughout only to be denied victory by some superb saves from Adam Davies.
Fabio Liverani made two changes to his starting line-up from Saturday’s win over Yeovil, with captain Nathan Clarke and Bradley Pritchard coming in for Mathieu Baudry and Martin Bartley.
And Pritchard made a good early impression as he sprayed a great ball out to Andrea Dossena on the left on three minutes and his dangerous cross was cleared by the visiting defence.
Orient eventually worked the ball back into the box from the right, where Chris Dagnall laid it off for Jobi McAnuff to fire over the crossbar from the edge of the box.
And Darius Henderson almost played Dossena in moments later, but the ball ran just beyond the Italian full-back.
Barnsley launched a counter-attack and flashed the ball across the face of the box from the left, but O’s were enjoying good spells of possession, with McAnuff almost getting in on the left after a good run.
Henderson, after catching Sam Winnall with a heavy challenge, almost got in behind the visiting defence to collect a long ball on 15 minutes before Luke O’Neill’s cross in from the right was sliced over his own crossbar by a Barnsley defender.
The visitors were awarded a free-kick some 30 yards out after a badly-timed tackle by Clarke, but Conor Hourihane’s effort was easy for Alex Cisak to gather.
And O’s went close on 24 minutes when Dossena’s deep diagonal ball found Henderson, who nodded across the face of goal for Dagnall to put a header just wide.
The same pair combined moments later as Dossena’s free-kick found Henderson, but his glancing header was wide of the far post.
And Henderson headed on Cisak’s long kick on the half-hour mark, with Dagnall forcing a save from Davies from the edge of the box.
Orient had their best chance yet on 36 minutes as Henderson, proving a real handful for Barnsley, teed up McAnuff on the left but his shot was blocked by the legs of Davies.
The Tykes, meanwhile, were struggling to make much impact at the other end, with Hourihane scuffing a desperate attempt well wide three minutes before the interval.
O’s forced a pair of late corners at the end of a hugely encouraging half and were warmly applauded by the home fans as they went off at the break.
The second half was barely two minutes old when Dossena curled over a delightful cross from the left and Henderson nodded the ball down for Hedges, but his half-volley was parried by Davies.
But Barnsley then had their best chance of the game when Scott Cuthbert fouled Josh Scowen in a central position, around 30 yards out, and Hourihane’s curling free-kick was pushed over by a diving Cisak.
The visitors looked more interested all of a sudden, but Hedges had the crowd out of their seats after juggling the ball on the right and flashing a left-footed drive just past the far post on 54 minutes.
Orient supporters were raising their voices again soon after when Wright was booked for kicking the ball away after conceding a free-kick on halfway, while team-mate McAnuff was still lying on the ground after being fouled.
Both sets of fans began to run through their repertoire of songs as the match entered its final quarter still on a knife edge.
And Orient were inches away from breaking the deadlock when McAnuff found Pritchard’s run into the box, but his left-foot shot was tipped over by Davies.
Henderson dragged an angled shot beyond the far post with 15 minutes left as Orient kept searching for the go-ahead goal.
And Dossena curled a 25-yard free-kick up and over Barnsley’s defensive wall but just past the far post, with Davies rooted to the spot.
Liverani sent Dean Cox on for McAnuff with 11 minutes remaining, but the substitute’s first two touches were poor, and David Mooney was then thrust into the action for Henderson.
Barnsley were reduced to 10 men as normal time drew to a close when substitute Milan Lalkovic went in on Clarke with his studs showing and was shown a straight red card.
And O’s very nearly got the winner they deserved at the death as Cox curled an inviting ball into the box, which skimmed the head of Dagnall and hit Pritchard before Davies gathered.
They remain in the relegation zone, but Liverani’s men will surely haul themselves to safety if they can maintain this sort of performance level over the closing weeks of the campaign.
Leyton Orient: Cisak, O’Neill, Cuthbert, Clarke, Dossena, Hedges (Simpson 90), Pritchard, Wright, McAnuff (Cox 79), Dagnall, Henderson (Mooney 82). Booked: Wright.
Unused subs: Omozusi, Sawyer, Lowry, Woods.
Referee: Gavin Ward.
Barnsley: Davies, Holgate, Cranie, Nyatanga, John, Pearson, Hourihane, Scowen, O’Sullivan (Lalkovic 70), Winnall (Berry 75), Waring (Ibehre 86). Booked: Hourihane. Sent off: Lalkovic 89.
Unused subs: Dibble, Smith, Hemmings, Bailey.
Attendance: 4,107 (including 577 Barnsley fans).
MATCH DETAILS (Orient first)
Fouls on: 11-13.
Shots on target: 4-2.
Shots off target: 9-4.