Hard-working O’s pegged back by late Fleet equaliser

PUBLISHED: 21:47 07 August 2018 | UPDATED: 21:47 07 August 2018

James Brophy and Macauley Bonne celebrate after Leyton Orient open the scoring against Ebbsfleet United (pic: Simon O'Connor).

James Brophy and Macauley Bonne celebrate after Leyton Orient open the scoring against Ebbsfleet United (pic: Simon O'Connor).

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National League: Leyton Orient 1 Ebbsfleet United 1

Leyton Orient conceded in the first minute of stoppage time to only pick up a point at home to Ebbsfleet United in the National League this evening.

James Brophy fired Justin Edinburgh’s team in front during the first half and the O’s improved after the break.

But they couldn’t hold on and were pegged back late on at the Breyer Group Stadium and although they remain unbeaten still, they are also winless after two fixtures.

Edinburgh only made one change to the side which were held to a 1-1 draw at Salford City last weekend.

Josh Koroma dropped to the bench with Brophy replacing him and the rest of the squad staying the same.

Fleet included former loanee Ebou Adams in their starting XI while on the bench was another former loan player in Jack Payne.

Ex-Dagenham & Redbridge attackers Michael Cheek and Corey Whitely were also among the substitutes.

There was a frantic start to the game with Ebbsfleet creating a great chance inside the opening 60 seconds.

Darren McQueen ran onto a loose ball and only had Dean Brill to beat, but blazed off target from 14-yards and a superb opening had been wasted.

In the build-up to the opportunity, George Elokobi had pulled up with what looked like a hamstring problem.

Although Orient’s physio entered the pitch, the centre back knew his game was up and looked devastated as he left to be substituted.

Marvin Ekpiteta, who had impressed during pre-season, replaced Elokobi and slotted in for his first appearance of the season alongside Coulson.

Ebbsfleet continued to look the better team in the opening exchanges and won several free kicks in the opening exchanges.

Daryl McMahon would have been frustrated to see his side fail to make the most of those set-pieces as it remained goalless with quarter of an hour played in E10.

Fleet had looked the most likely to open the scoring, but Orient created their first chance with 18 minutes played and made the most of it too.

Macauley Bonne dribbled forward with the ball well on the right-hand side and got into the area before cutting back for Brophy.

O’s number 16 then showed great composure to keep his cool and slot into the corner to give Nathan Ashmore no chance.

It was a simple goal and yet a fantastically worked one from Orient’s point of view with good runners into the area.

And after a shaky start, Edinburgh’s team crucially had the lead on a hot evening in east London.

McMahon’s men responded in positive fashion and Myles Weston tried his luck in the 22nd minute, but Brill got down low to save well.

Following a frantic opening period to the game, the intensity slowed a touch, but an even and tense battle remained.

Danny Kedwell looked to beat Brill just before the half an hour mark, but his effort went harmlessly wide.

Orient’s goalkeeper was called into action with 35 on the clock though, as another former Dagenham man, Sean Shields, saw a cross-cum-shot almost loop in, yet O’s custodian tipped it over.

After Bonne had seen a header test Ashmore, Ebbsfleet were presented with a great opportunity in the 39th minute when Alex Lawless caught Adam Drury late just outside the area.

Free kick specialist Jack Powell stepped up, 22-yards-outs, and curled past the wall, but also wide as Brill’s goal remained untroubled.

Having started the half strongly, Ebbsfleet were now ending it the same and created another opening in the 43rd minute.

Chris Bush combined well with Shields and the latter got in behind the Orient back four, but Ekpiteta slide in and although the ball deflected off the Fleet wing-back, it rolled wide for a goal kick.

The fourth official signalled for two minutes of stoppage time at the break and it went by with little to note as O’s led by a single goal at half time.

Orient got the second period back underway and it continued in the same full-blooded nature as the opening 45 with Craig Clay and Sam Ling making excellent challenges on Adams and Shields in the 51st minute.

A slight delay occurred soon after when McAnuff blocked Bush’s clearance and some treatment was required after taking a hit to the face.

The O’s skipper was fine to resume, however, and then watched Brophy embark on a superb dribble from deep inside his own half to the edge of the Fleet area before he was fouled by Adams.

McAnuff stepped up and curled around the wall, but Ashmore came across easily to save and it remained 1-0.

Orient’s captain was involved again in the 63rd minute when he cut inside a couple of opponents, but saw his final shot blocked by a defender.

Both sides made substitutions soon after with Cheek coming on for McQueen and O’s introducing Koroma for Brophy, who had been struggling in the minutes leading up to the change.

Rain was falling quite heavily now as the seconds ticked away in E10, but the home fans were still full of voice.

Ebbsfleet had the ball in the net with 17 minutes left, but Kedwell’s poked effort was ruled out for a foul in the build up.

Orient brought on Charlie Lee soon after with the hard-working Lawless making way with 76 played.

Seconds later and McMahon made a change of his own as Adams left to loud boos with Whitely replacing him.

Edinburgh’s team were working so hard now with an example of this the pressing by Alabi, Bonne, Lee and McAnuff in the 79th minute which forced Ebbsfleet to give the ball away.

Soon after and O’s almost doubled their advantage when McAnuff’s shot took a big deflection and fell for Koroma, but his volley was impressively saved by Ashmore.

Ebbsfleet were pushing for a way back into the game, but Orient were looking so fit and strong and chasing and harrying every opposition player.

The crowd responded to the hard work with more chants as the game entered its final exchanges with the rain falling hard.

Lee was making his presence felt with a number of big challenges in the middle and then Fleet did create an opportunity.

Substitute Whitely was given too much space in the area and crossed in for fellow sub and ex-Daggers team-mate Cheek, but the forward scooped over from 10-yards.

It was an excellent chance and then Orient went close themselves as Alabi nodded the ball onto himself and got through on goal, but Ashmore stood up tall and saved well.

The match was end-to-end now and Koroma was the next to get in, but he dragged an effort wide with Bonne lurking.

A minute of four minutes of stoppage time were then added on by the fourth official and in the first, Ebbsfleet equalised.

It arrived from nothing with Whitely again given too much space on the edge and his low shot caught Brill off guard and he couldn’t get a strong enough hand to the effort which flew in off the wet surface.

Ebbsfleet, like Orient did at Salford, had pinched a point in the dying exchanges, but there was still time for more drama.

The last kick of the game saw an opportunity created as Clay slide in and won the ball back before playing Ekpiteta in on the right.

O’s young defender crossed in and the ball bounced up for Bonne, but his header was tame and Ashmore saved.

Referee Quelch blew for full time soon after and then a coming together occurred between both sets of players.

All the staff got involved too, but eventually tempers cooled and O’s left the pitch to warm applause.

While it was not the result they wanted, they had produced another battling display and after two tough games, Orient remain unbeaten, but with only two points.

Next up for Edinburgh’s side is a home clash with Barrow where they will hope to earn their first victory of the season.

Leyton Orient: Brill; Ling, Coulson, Elokobi (Ekpiteta 3), Widdowson; McAnuff ©, Lawless (Lee 76), Clay, Brophy (Koroma 67); Bonne, Alabi.

Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Dayton.

Ebbsfleet United: Ashmore; Magri, King, Bush; Weston (Coulson 58), Drury, Powell, Shields; Adams (Whitely 77); McQueen (Cheek 66), Kedwell.

Unused substitutes: Myles, Payne.

Attendance: 4.710 (394 Ebbsfleet United supporters).

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