Orient denied by late Wells intervention
PUBLISHED: 17:42 14 December 2013 | UPDATED: 21:24 14 December 2013
2013 Getty Images
League One: Bradford 1-1 Leyton Orient
Nahki Wells’ last-gasp free-kick denied Orient three points at Bradford.
Lloyd James’ brilliant strike in first-half stoppage had looked like it would earn the O’s a precious win at Valley Parade.
The Welsh midfielder picked the ball up in the corner of the penalty area, curled away from his marker and curled a sublime finish into the top corner.
But the Bermudan curled a precise shot into the top corner after Mathieu Baudry had been penalised for bringing him down.
The goal had come against the run of play, and Orient were made to pay for sitting back in the second half.
Robbie Simpson was handed his first competitive start in more than six months in place of the suspended David Mooney, sent off for violent conduct in the FA Cup win over Walsall.
Kevin Lisbie was only fit enough for a place on the bench following an ankle injury.
Captain Nathan Clarke and fellow defender Scott Cuthbert returned after injury and illness last weekend, replacing Gary Sawyer and Yohann Lasimant, and the bench had a stronger look to it with the return of loanees Josh Wright and Marvin Bartley.
But Orient struggled to find their rhythm as eighth-placed Bradford looked a constant threat with the pace of Wells and Kyel Reid.
Reid brought the best out of Jamie Jones with a piledriver from the edge of the area, and James Hanson headed wide after Rory McArdle flicked on Gary Jones’ corner.
There were a few penalty shouts for the Bantams, all of which were ignored by replacement referee Mark Heywood.
Orient had half chances, notably from Moses Odubajo and Dean Cox, but Bradford had looked most likely to score until they were hit by James’ sucker punch.
You wouldn’t guess it was his first league goal for the club in 47 appearances, and with nearest challengers Wolves losing at home to MK Dons, they are now a point clear at the top of the table.
Bradford came back strongly after the break and the visitors survived a number of goalmouth scrambles, one which saw Nathan Doyle fire just wide, but the held on to continue their remarkable season.
Clarke and Mathieu Baudry, were superb all afternoon as the visitors held firm until the death.
Doyle was also denied by Jones and Baudry headed a shot off the line.
Orient retained a threat on the break and Batt was inches away from turning in James’ cross while Cox fired just wide from six yards.
It’s now just two defeats in 20 League One games but the division’s top scorer Wells’ sublime effort denied them the victory.
Orient team: Jones; Cuthbert, Baudry, Clarke, Omozusi; Odubajo, James, Vincelot, Cox; Batt (Bartley 83), Simpson (Lisbie 73). Unused substitutes: Larkins, Sawyer, Lasimant, Gorman, Wright.