10-man Leyton Orient fight back to claim Chester point during dramatic National League match at Brisbane Road
- Credit: Archant
National League: Leyton Orient 2 Chester 2
10-man Leyton Orient had to settle for a point after a dramatic National League clash with fellow strugglers Chester this evening.
In an action-packed first half, Macauley Bonne’s opener was cancelled out by two goals for the Blues before Jamie Sendles-White was harshly shown a straight red and the visitors handed a penalty in the 43rd minute.
Sam Sargeant atoned for his earlier error by saving the spot-kick and although Ross Embleton was then sent to the stands, O’s fought back to claim a point thanks to a stunning Jobi McAnuff strike.
Interim head coach Embleton kept faith with the same starting XI from Saturday with the bench identical as well.
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Orient stuck with the 4-5-1 formation with Craig Clay, Alex Lawless and James Dayton as part of the three in the centre of midfield.
Chester, who came down on the day of the game like at Bromley on Saturday, were looking to pick up three points, which would move them out of the bottom four.
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Boss Marcus Bignot was down to the bare bones, however, and named four players on the bench who had limited experience at the Blues.
The O’s made a fast start at Brisbane Road and won three corners inside the opening exchanges with Joe Widdowson heading over in the third minute.
More was to come with stand-in captain McAnuff whipping in a stunning ball in the fifth minute, but Kingsley James cleared behind under pressure from James Brophy.
Not for the first time, Orient took the corner short and McAnuff curled in another good delivery, which Bonne flicked over Alex Lynch and in with six played.
It was the 10th goal of the season for the Zimbabwe international and fully deserved for Embleton’s O’s.
Chester dominated possession after the goal, but Orient’s pressing was forcing them into mistakes.
Yet with quarter of an hour played, the visitors were level with the linesman awarding the goal.
An Andy Halls cross took a deflection and looped up into the air. James Akintunde swung his leg at the delivery and got the faintest of touches, which wrong-footed Sam Sargeant and despite his best efforts, the ball was adjudged to have crossed the line.
Sargeant had pushed the ball onto the post, but despite remonstrations from the home players, they had been pegged back.
After a nervy couple of moments, Orient soon got back on track and a McAnuff cross caused problems for Lynch, but Widdowson was unable to get on the loose ball.
Five minutes after that opportunity, in the 22nd minute, O’s went even closer when McAnuff passed into Bonne’s path and he teed up Dayton, who worked a yard of space, but couldn’t beat Chester’s goalkeeper from 16-yards.
With 24 on the clock, the hosts threatened again with Dayton finding Clay in the area, yet his header was deflected over by Halls.
The Blues reminded Orient of their attacking ability by winning two corners in quick succession after, but they were unable to do much with either.
Another chance came the way of the away side in the 38th minute when they were given a free kick 25-yards-out after Sendles-White and Akintunde clashed.
Referee Alan Dale took an age to make the decision after initially looking at his linesman, but eventually gave it.
It would prove costly for Orient with Ross Hannah stepping up and firing home past Sargeant on his side with 40 minutes gone.
After such a bright start, O’s found themselves in familiar territory – behind at Brisbane Road.
More drama was to come as the first half ended in controversial circumstances when the away side were given a penalty in the 43rd minute.
Sargeant was at fault, coming out for a long ball and missing it, which allowed Nyal Bell to run towards goal.
But Sendles-White got back at him and despite hardly any contact, the Chester man went down.
Referee, to the astonishment of all home fans, pointed to the spot and duly sent off the O’s defender.
It looked incredibly harsh on Sendles-White and once he had left the pitch, the Blues had the chance to go 3-1 up.
Sargeant stopped them, however, with a low save to his right with Hannan denied his second of the game.
The controversy wasn’t over there though, with Embleton then sent to the stands on the stroke of half time and after five minutes of stoppage time, an action-packed first 45 ended 2-1 to the visitors, yet only after Dan Happe had a goal disallowed.
Embleton made a double substitution at half time with Matt Harrold and Zain Westbrooke coming on for Clay and Lawless.
O’s switched to an unusual formation with Happe and Widdowson forming part of a back two with Westbrooke just in front and Jake Caprice, Dayton, McAnuff and Brophy forming a midfield four with Harrold and Bonne up top.
Dayton started the second period well with a deflected effort before a couple more attempts moments later.
With Orient down to 10-men and with interim head coach Embleton in the stands, it looked a tall order for the hosts.
O’s were not giving up though and continued to probe and on the hour mark they got their reward.
McAnuff controlled around 30-yards-out and let fly with Lynch giving no chance as the ball nestled into the corner.
The decibels levels inside Brisbane Road went off the chart with the O’s stand-in skipper running out to the touchline to celebrate.
With 30 minutes left, Orient were back on level terms, but could they keep up this intensity with 10 men?
After such a frantic period, the pace of the game slowed after O’s equaliser with both teams squaring one another up.
The quality appeared to be in Orient’s favour though and Dayton went close in the 73rd minute with a deflected shot from outside the area.
From the resulting corner, the former Cheltenham Town wide-man picked out Happe, but he couldn’t direct his header towards goal.
O’s kept the ball alive and Dayton produced another stunning cross, which James volleyed out for a corner with Widdowson waiting to pounce.
Lynch came for the next cross and could only punch up into the air, yet the Blues managed to survive.
With time running out, it was no a case of whether either side wanted to win or if they were happy with a point.
Chester seemed to be going for the win and so did O’s when David Mooney came on for Dayton with nine minutes left.
Tension was in the air now and James tried his luck in the 85th minute, but his strike took a deflection and was easy for Sargeant.
Then came Orient’s big chance with 86 on the clock and it fell to their club captain.
Caprice whipped the ball in and Harrold could only head up in the air and away from goal. It dropped for Mooney, but he could only volley inches wide from 14-yards.
It was a crucial opportunity and more bad news occurred for the hosts seconds later when Bonne picked up his fifth booking of the season for dissent.
Chester then threatened through Jordan Gough, but Sargeant held well and four minutes of additional time were added on.
Both sides pushed in the dying exchanges, but in the end they had to settle for a point and it could be classed as a good one in the end.
The O’s, for the second time this week, had shown the type of fight and character which has been lacking for months.
Orient drop a place to 20th as a result of this draw, but they remain three above the bottom four.
Embleton will now need to get his players ready for a crucial match at Torquay United, but he’ll be without Bonne and maybe Sendles-White.
Although the east Londoners are now 13 games without a win in the National League, more of that type of fight and they’ll move up the table in no time.
Leyton Orient: Sargeant; Caprice, Sendles-White, Happe, Widdowson; McAnuff, Clay (Harrold 46), Lawless (Westbrooke 46), Dayton (Mooney 81), Brophy; Bonne.
Unused substitutes: Brill, Ellis.
Chester: Lynch; Halls, McCombe, Rowe-Turner (Anderson 77); James, Rainey (Slew 81), Dawson, Gough; Akintunde; Bell, Hannah.
Unused substitutes: Vaughan, Jones, Marsh-Hughes, Slew.
Attendance: 3,352 (173 Chester supporters).