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O’s extend unbeaten start at Heed, but Alabi sees red

PUBLISHED: 17:14 25 August 2018 | UPDATED: 17:14 25 August 2018

Leyton Orient forward James Alabi has an effort blocked by a Salford City player (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient forward James Alabi has an effort blocked by a Salford City player (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Simon O'Connor Photography

National League: Gateshead 1 Leyton Orient 1

Leyton Orient fought back from a goal down and a numerical disadvantage to earn a hard-fought point at Gateshead and maintain their unbeaten start to the new season.

The O’s were trailing 1-0 and had James Alabi sent off before Marvin Ekpiteta popped up with his second goal of the campaign late on to salvage a draw at the International Stadium.

Justin Edinburgh would have been pleased to see more spirit from his team, but at the same time disappointed with the lack of discipline shown by a summer signing.

He kept faith with the same starting XI which saw off Boreham Wood last weekend, as Josh Coulson recovered from blurred vision.

There was a couple of changes to the bench with new signing Dale Gorman in the 16-man squad for the first time since fracturing his ankle in April and Matt Harrold was among the replacements after recovering from the hamstring injury he suffered in March.

Orient went close with 21 minutes played when Macauley Bonne dummied a cross by captain Jobi McAnuff, but Craig Clay couldn’t keep his effort down.

The same man had an even better opportunity eight minutes later, but his goalbound shot was cleared off the line by Jon Mellish

Further opportunities were created, but nothing clear cut and it remained goalless at half time.

Just before the hour mark Gateshead almost broke the deadlock as Luke Armstrong had a shot deflected over before Steven Rigg’s header was saved by Dean Brill and Ekpiteta had to head away the follow up effort.

Edinburgh made a couple of changes after with Gorman coming on for his debut and James Alabi entering the fray with 24 minutes remaining.

O’s began to press for a winner as the National League game entered its latter stages and Bonne saw a shot deflected wide with 70 on the clock.

It seemed like Orient were the side most likely to find the opener, but Gateshead went ahead 13 minutes from time.

Tom White threaded a fine through ball into Armstrong’s path and he beat Brill to make it 1-0 at the International Stadium.

Things went from bad to worst for Orient three minutes later when substitute Alabi saw red for a dangerous challenge on Robbie Tinkler near the halfway line.

O’s made their final change with 85 on the clock when Harrold come on for Myles Judd and then on the stroke of full time, they found an equaliser.

Gateshead failed to clear a corner and Ekpiteta showed forward instincts to rifle home the leveller.

It earned Orient another point and maintains their unbeaten start to the new campaign after six games.

Leyton Orient: Brill; Judd (Harrold 85), Coulson, Ekpiteta, Widdowson; McAnuff, Clay, Lee (Gorman 62), Dayton (Alabi 66); Koroma, Bonne.

Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Happe.

Attendance: 1,052 (209 Leyton Orient supporters).

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