Leyton Orient left to draw on the positives at home to Ebbsfleet United
PUBLISHED: 17:06 10 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:59 12 March 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
National League: Leyton Orient 1 Ebbsfleet United 1
Leyton Orient picked up a hard-fought point in the National League after drawing 1-1 with Ebbsfleet United at Brisbane Road this afternoon.
Corey Whitely put the visitors in front with quarter of an hour played, but Justin Edinburgh’s men equalised when James Brophy’s cross was diverted past his own goalkeeper by Dave Winfield in the 32nd minute.
And that was how it finished in east London as despite plenty of second-half endeavour, both sides struggled to show much quality and it quite fairly ended level.
The O’s made four changes to the side which lost 3-2 at Gateshead in the FA Trophy on Tuesday night.
Dan Happe and Joe Widdowson dropped out of the squad altogether while David Mooney and Lamar Reynolds had to be content with a place on the bench.
Returning for Orient were George Elokobi and Sam Ling, with the latter making his long-awaited home debut for the O’s having appeared on the bench for the first time for the first-team all the way back on December 7 2013.
Craig Clay came back too after a midweek illness and Dan Holman started again up front for the visit of Fleet.
Ebbsfleet, managed by former Orient midfielder Daryl McMahon, included former O’s player Jack Payne in their starting XI.
Whitely, formerly of Dagenham & Redbridge, also played out wide on the right and so he was up against former team-mate Ling, who was playing out of position at left-back.
After the disappointment of Tuesday night, it was important Orient made a strong start at Brisbane Road, but the visitors threatened in the first minute, though the attack through Luke Coulson came to nothing.
O’s responded by winning a corner in the fourth minute, but they wasted it by taking it short and there were some nerves present in the home team, which showed in the seventh when Dean Brill took too long on the ball and was closed down quickly.
Fortunately for Orient, Danny Kedwell could only block the clearance behind for a goal kick and it remained 0-0.
The first shot of note occurred in the 10th minute when Josh Koroma tried his luck from a 25-yard free kick.
Nathan Ashmore saved it comfortably though, and McMahon’s team continued to dictate possession and play with confidence at Brisbane Road.
Orient produced their best move of the match in the 14th minute when Brophy cut inside dangerous and passed out to Koroma.
The winger scuffed his effort across the face of goal and it seemed like it was going to fall perfectly for Macauley Bonne, but an Ebbsfleet player got the faintest of touches to put it behind for a corner.
It was not a sign of things to come though, as less than 60 seconds later the away side took the lead.
A throw was not dealt with and Whitely peeled off of former team-mate Ling and rifled through the legs of Brill to open the scoring with quarter of an hour played.
O’s eventually responded with Holman firstly forcing a throw when chasing a lost cause and then he won a corner from a tight position.
The set-piece from Brophy was too close to Ashmore and with half of the first period completed, McMahon would have been delighted with the way his team had started.
Fleet created another opportunity with 23 on the clock when Coulson attacked from the left and despite Ling being yards behind the wide-man, Elokobi didn’t come across to close down the space and so the attacker got into the area, but drilled wide.
It was a let-off for O’s and it seemed they were suffering a hangover from Tuesday’s FA Trophy exit.
To their credit, they did improve and Ashmore was tested in the 29th minute when he had to save Bonne’s flick following a Caprice cross from the right.
Orient attacked from the opposite flank two minutes later as Brophy and Ling linked up well before the latter scuffed his effort.
It was an encouraging moment for Edinburgh’s team and with 32 played, they did get back on level terms.
Ling played a perfectly weighted through ball for Brophy and the winger smashed an effort across goal towards Bonne, but it hit Winfield and ricocheted into the goal.
After responding fairly well to going behind, it was a deserved leveller for Orient and now the confidence seemed to be flowing back.
O’s won back-to-back corners with Craig Clay having an effort deflected over before referee Christopher Pollard frustrated the home fans by awarded a free kick for a foul on Ashmore, when it seemed like he had just simply dropped the ball.
With the hosts building momentum, they were nearly punished for more sloppiness at the back in the 44th minute.
A long ball forward by ex-Dagenham full-back Jack Connors found Adam Drury, who hadn’t been tracked by Clay, but his lob over Brill went behind for a goal kick.
Three minutes of stoppage time was added on after, but they went by without anything to note as it remained 1-1 at the break.
Both sides make a number of little mistakes during the opening five minutes of the second half, but O’s produced the first genuine attack after the restart in the 51st minute.
Ling played a wonderful through ball with the outside of his boot and Brophy raced through, but with the angle tight, he tried to cut back for Holman, yet he hadn’t made a good enough run and the chance went.
Koroma tried his luck from a free kick with 57 on the clock, but it sailed harmless wide as the game entered a slight lull period.
McMahon made a couple of substitutions with Sean Shields and Chris Bush coming on and Edinburgh reacted by introducing Mooney for Holman in the 63rd minute.
Both sides were struggling to create chances as the game entered the final 20 minutes and then Fleet went close.
Caprice lost the ball in Ebbsfleet’s half and Connors attacked down the O’s right and crossed in for Whitely, but he headed wide.
Edinburgh made another sub with quarter of an hour left as Reynolds came on for Koroma and Orient then wasted a decent opening two minutes later.
Mooney turned away from Kenny Clark impressively, but his intended cross for the unmarked Bonne was miscued and it went straight into the arms of Ashmore.
As the game entered the final five minutes, it was the hosts who looked the most likely to grab a late winner as they forced two corners in quick succession before Brophy dragged an effort wide.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the 90, but like much of the second half, no chances could be created and it ended level.
After the disappointment at Gateshead, a point was not the worst result in the world for Orient and they are now nine points clear of the relegation zone heading into Tuesday’s home clash with struggling Torquay United.
Leyton Orient: Brill; Caprice, Coulson, Elokobi, Ling; Koroma (Reynolds 75), Clay, Adams, Brophy; Bonne, Holman (Mooney 63).
Unused substitutes: Grainger, Ekpiteta, Harrold.
Ebbsfleet United: Ashmore; Magri (Bush 61), Clark, Winfield, Connors; Rance, Payne, Drury (Shields 56); Whitely, Kedwell, Coulson (Powell 68).
Unused substitutes Miles, Wabo.
Attendance: 4,127 (546 Ebbsfleet United supporters).