O’s fail to take chances as Shots force frustrating stalemate
- Credit: Archant
National League: Leyton Orient 0 Aldershot Town 0
Leyton Orient saw their three-match winning run in the National League come to an end after a resolute Aldershot Town earned a goalless draw in east London.
Justin Edinburgh’s O’s failed to work the away custodian enough, but would not have been too disheartened at the full time whistle.
Orient had worked hard and had just lacked the required clinical touch in the last third and yet remained in first place and in an excellent position approaching the halfway stage of the campaign.
Edinburgh kept faith with the same team which defeated title rivals Wrexham 2-0 on Saturday as James Brophy had to be content with a place on the bench again despite his late goal in North Wales.
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Although Charlie Lee returned to training this week after a knee injury, he was not fit enough to make the substitutes as Orient went in search of a fourth consecutive win.
The visitors trip to east London was not a smooth one as because part of Leyton High Road was shut, traffic around the stadium was worst than usual and so the Shots had to park their team bus near the East Stand rather than outside the West Stand.
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Aldershot’s players had to walk the final leg of the journey to the ground, but they got to E10 in time and therefore the start was not delayed.
Rain had fallen heavily prior to kick-off, but it stopped just before the game was due to get underway, which occurred after a minute’s applause in honour of former Orient defender Kevin Austin, who passed away on Friday after a battle with cancer.
It took only 10 seconds for the first foul of the game to be committed as Shots skipper Jake Gallagher fouled James Dayton with a dangerous high boot.
After a slight delay the free kick was taken, but easily cleared and the game firmly got into its stride with a good atmosphere at the stadium with Aldershot bringing a decent number of travelling supporters.
The start to the match was disjointed with Orient trying to force the issue, but failing to break Gary Waddock’s side down.
Another delay occurred in the 14th minute when one-time Dagenham & Redbridge midfielder Luke Howell needed treatment.
Bizarrely, when Aldershot did make a change seconds later it was Adam May who came off and was replaced by Shamir Fenelon – another ex-Daggers man.
Straight after the substitution O’s earned a great chance when Josh Koroma got past Dominic Bernard and was fouled on the edge of the area.
Up stepped Orient captain Jobi McAnuff and he managed to beat the wall, but his curling strike smashed off the crossbar and the away side survived with 16 minutes played in E10.
O’s work rate was impressing as they pressed and harried Aldershot all over the pitch and that type of work resulted in a chance with 24 on the clock.
Joe Widdowson slide in and won a lost cause, which gave Dale Gorman the chance to dribble into the area, but his cross was clawed away from goal and his follow up shots blocked by a couple of visiting defenders.
The Shots threatened themselves in the 28th minute when Matt McClure controlled a loose ball and let fly from range, but fortunately for a motionless Dean Brill it sailed harmlessly over the crossbar.
It was the former Dagenham attackers last involvement in the game as he was brought off on the half an hour mark after suffering a shoulder injury minutes earlier.
All the substitutions and stoppages for injuries contributed to a stop-start match as the half time break approached in east London with few clear-cut chances created.
Lewis Kinsella received the first caution of the game after he hacked down Dayton and then Adam McDonnell tested Brill in the 36th minute, but his low free kick was easy for the former Luton Town goalkeeper.
Four minutes later and substitute Josh Barrett turned away from Myles Judd and his centre took a touch off Marvin Ekpiteta and went behind for a corner, which came to nothing.
O’s then got Koroma into the game when McAnuff’s long ball forward was flicked around the corner by Bonne and the Orient number 19 raced away towards the away goal, but just as he was about to shoot, Kinsella slide in superbly to force a corner.
It was a sensational tackle and also a lovely move by the hosts, as the seconds ticked away in the first half in east London.
Koroma was involved again in the final moment of note in the opening 45, but his fierce drive was saved by Will Mannion and it remained goalless at the interval.
Edinburgh was forced into a change at the break as Brophy replaced Clay and so the captain McAnuff moved into the middle of the park.
Orient started the second period with good purpose as Gorman and Josh Coulson got shots off early on before Widdowson headed over from McAnuff’s free kick in the 50th minute from six-yards.
Three minutes later and Aldershot threatened as McDonnell’s free kick tested Brill and this time the O’s custodian had to tip over.
The game was starting to open up now and Brophy skinned Gabriel Osho in the 53rd minute and his cross came for Dayton. He teed up Gorman, but his 14-yard placed effort was saved impressively by Mannion.
It was almost end-to-end now as both sides traded blows and attacked at will when in possession with Waddock’s Aldershot growing in confidence.
By the 65th minute Edinburgh had seen enough as James Alabi was introduced for Dayton and Koroma moved to the right wing.
Again almost immediately after a substitution a chance was created as Judd did well out wide and crossed in for Brophy, but his shot took a touch and went just wide into the side-netting as another opportunity went amiss.
The visitors responded by making their final sub with 22 minutes left as Reece Grant made way for Jacob Berkeley-Agyepong.
Orient began to turn the screw now as Koroma cut inside two opponents, but just as he was about to shoot, referee Pollard pulled play back for an earlier foul.
The 20-year-old was frustrated, but from the resulting free kick McAnuff teed up Gorman and his low drive took a touch and deflected wide for a corner.
After two corners in quick succession, Aldershot had survived but the crowd were on their feet now and scenting an opener was within touching distance.
When Brophy won another free kick in the 77th minute – the home faithful called for McAnuff, but Macauley Bonne took it and hit the wall before volleying the rebound wide.
Edinburgh’s team continued to threaten and almost found the breakthrough with 80 on the clock as Bonne and Alabi combined nearly and the latter went through, but his low strike was saved excellently by Mannion.
Aldershot reminded Orient of their potential with a quick counter-attack with seven minutes left and it nearly resulted in the opener.
Substitute Berkeley-Agyepong got away from Judd and chipped in for McDonnell, but his header was blocked on the line by Widdowson in stunning fashion.
Just as four minutes of stoppage time was added on, O’s attacked again and almost found the net, but Widdowson’s cross for Bonne was headed behind by Bernard for a corner.
From the resulting set-piece Ekpiteta met the centre, but could only nod wide of the Shots goal.
Orient continued to chuck everyone forward in hope of a last-gasp winner and yet it failed to arrive.
In the end, O’s had been denied a fourth consecutive win, but remained in top spot by a single point ahead of Salford City and a further four ahead of Wrexham.
Next up for the E10 outfit is another home clash on Saturday when Gateshead visit in the National League.
Leyton Orient: Brill; Judd, Coulson, Ekpiteta, Widdowson; McAnuff (c), Clay (Brophy 46), Gorman, Dayton (Alabi 65); Bonne, Koroma
Unused substitutes: Janata, Happe, Harrold.
Aldershot Town: Mannion; McCoy, Osho, Bernard, Kinsella; Howell; McDonnell, May (Fenelon 15), Gallagher (c), Grant (Berkeley-Agyepong 68); McClure (Barrett 30).
Unused substitutes: Cole, Wanadio.
Attendance: 4,289 (274 Aldershot Town supporters).