O’s live to fight another day after Blades point

O's manager Fabio Liverani raises a smile (pic: Simon O'Connor)

O's manager Fabio Liverani raises a smile (pic: Simon O'Connor) - Credit: Gavin Ellis/TGSPHOTO

Sky Bet League One: Leyton Orient 1 Sheffield United 1

Leyton Orient just about lived to fight another day in League One after drawing with Sheffield United at Brisbane Road.

Mathieu Baudry put the O’s ahead in front of their record crowd, but the away team replied and neither was able to get a winner.

For a long time Fabio Liverani’s team were facing relegation, but a late turnaround by Peterborough against Crawley ensured they are still a League One club.

This point saw them drop to 22nd in the table and they must defeat Swindon next weekend and hope Crawley and Notts County lose.

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Shaun Batt was handed his first start by Liverani since Boxing Day as the Italian made four changes following the defeat to Rochdale on Tuesday night.

Jay Simpson returned up front alongside Chris Dagnall, whilst Lloyd James slotted into midfield – in place of Josh Wright.

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And Scott Cuthbert was back in the starting team after missing the midweek defeat because his wife was giving birth to a baby girl. His return saw Elliot Omozusi switch to left-back.

David Mooney, Ryan Hedges and Shane Lowry all dropped to the bench alongside Wright as Liverani continued his search for the winning formula.

The game started at a frantic pace with both teams keen to attack from the off. Dean Cox and Omozusi linked up well in the opening stages before O’s were cut open by the Blades in the eighth minute.

Jason Holt turned away from his marker and passed into Steven Davies. Nathan Clarke was drawn across to the away forward, despite Mathieu Baudry being in close proximity.

That allowed Holt to run free and Davies found his team mate inside the box, but Alex Cisak made himself big and prevented the Sheffield United midfielder opening the scoring.

The visitors were looking dangerous and O’s goalkeeper was called upon again in the 14th minute. This time Jamie Murphy was teed up, but Orient’s on-loan Burnley stopper got down well and parried away from goal.

Liverani’s team seemed nervous now and the home supporters were already growing restless as Nigel Clough’s Blades continued to look a class above.

Che Adams went close shortly afterwards following a poor clearance by Baudry, but James deflected his effort wide for a corner.

Batt picked up the first booking of the afternoon in the 21st minute for a reckless lunge as the 28-year-old endured a difficult start against the Blades.

Dagnall had O’s first shot on goal in the 25th minute, but Mark Howard comfortably saved. The hosts were slowly growing into the contest, however, and won their first corner two minutes later.

Cox’s first delivery was cleared for a second set piece and he tried to take it short, but Marvin Bartley couldn’t get onto the ball and the chance was gone. The duo exchanged some words after the incident as tensions ran high at Brisbane Road.

News was filtering in elsewhere that Notts County, Crawley and Crewe Alexandra were all winning and therefore Orient would be down unless they found a goal.

But with plenty of time remaining it wasn’t all doom and gloom in E10 and Dagnall and Cox were showing positive signs.

It was that duo who linked up six minutes before half time to give Batt an opportunity. Dagnall passed into Cox and he ran across the away defence before teeing up Batt.

He took a touch, but learnt back, however he still forced Howell to tip over for a corner. Cox whipped in the set piece, but Bartley headed off target.

Clough’s team were always proving to be a threat and Cisak was called into action again in the 43rd minute.

Blades broke from an Orient corner and Murphy ran across the pitch before finding Adams. Omozusi was able to tackle him, but the ball ran for Murphy and Cisak was forced to push away his strike.

Two minutes of stoppage time was added on at the end of the first 45, but neither team was able to produce another opportunity and it remained goalless at half time.

O’s got the second period underway and it only took seven minutes for Liverani to bring Batt off and replace him with Jobi McAnuff. The Italian’s experiment to start the forward for the first time since December 26 failed to come off.

Two minutes later and Adams tested Cisak as the visitors upped the ante at the start of the second half.

But the home team responded and Cox had an effort saved by Howard. The news elsewhere was slightly better now with Crawley losing. That meant O’s would live to fight another day if it remained goalless at Brisbane Road.

Dagnall and McAnuff linked up moments later and the former whipped a dangerous ball into the Sheffield United area, but it was cleared.

Cries of ‘come on Orient’ rung out from the home supporters as they urged their team to get a goal which would take them out of the bottom four.

Results elsewhere were taking more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, though, as Crawley got themselves level.

Liverani made his second roll of the dice in the 62nd minute by bringing on Wright for James as he tried to deliver a final win of the season at Brisbane Road in front of Orient’s biggest home attendance.

Nerves filled E10 when news started coming through that Crawley had gone ahead and it meant Orient, with just over 20 minutes remaining, needed a goal.

They went close in the 70th minute when Cuthbert’s free kick was met by Baudry and Cox’s follow up header was deflected wide for a corner.

Cox went over to take the set piece and delivered a beautiful ball into the box. Even more sweeter for Orient fans was Baudry throwing himself at the ball to head past Howard and into the corner.

Brisbane Road erupted with a mixture of relief and ecstasy. Liverani’s team had given themselves a chance with 19 minutes remaining.

Sheffield United hit back straight away, though, and only a sensational block by captain Nathan Clarke prevented them equaliser.

A ball into the box ran through for substitute Stefan Scougall in space with only Cisak to beat, but Orient’s skipper chucked himself in the way and blocked the effort.

O;s were living dangerously now and Chris Basham fired over the bar shortly afterwards as they searched for an equaliser.

In the 77th minute they were level. Bob Harris controlled the ball around 25-yards-out and his effort took a couple of deflections before beating the helpless Cisak.

It meant Orient were once again facing relegation from League One. It nearly got worst seven minutes later when Jose Baxter curled a free kick around the wall, but fortunately it hit the post and the hosts survived.

The home team appeared to get a second wind as the game entered the final five minutes. Cox had a couple of threatening corners before a mazy run by McAnuff won a free kick on the edge of the box.

Mooney was introduced before it was taken and Simpson’s effort was tipped over the bar by Howard as Orient pushed to try and take it to the final day.

The fourth official signalled five minutes of stoppage time would be played at the end of the match and Liverani’s men needed to find a goal.

Fortunately for O’s, Crawley conceded twice late on and it meant Orient would live to fight another day.

But if they could manage a winner it would be enough to take them out of the bottom four.

Leyton Orient: Cisak, Cuthbert, Clarke, Baudry, Omozusi, Batt (McAnuff 52), James (Wright 62), Bartley (Mooney 86), Cox, Simpson, Dagnall.

Unused substitutes: Woods, Lowry, Taylor, Hedges.

Sheffield United: Howard, Harris, Brayford, Basham, Murphy, Baxter, Coutts (Doyle 90), Freeman, Adams (Calvert-Lewin 66), S.Davies (Scougall 66), Holt.

Unused substitutes: Alcock, Willis, B. Davies, Reed.

Attendance: 7,249 (1338 Sheffield United supporters).

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