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Late Clay goal earns Orient share of the spoils at Salford

PUBLISHED: 14:33 04 August 2018 | UPDATED: 14:33 04 August 2018

Craig Clay (left) celebrates scoring for Leyton Orient with team-mate George Elokobi (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Craig Clay (left) celebrates scoring for Leyton Orient with team-mate George Elokobi (pic: Simon O'Connor).

07958 573219 simon.oconnor@virgin.net

National League: Salford City 1 Leyton Orient 1

Craig Clay struck late on to earn Leyton Orient a point in the opening game of the National League season at Salford City.

The BT Sport cameras were present for the game between the O’s and the division new boys, but it took until the second half for the deadlock to be broken by Rory Gaffney.

Justin Edinburgh’s men responded positively, however, and levelled at the death to earn a share of the spoils .

Orient boss Edinburgh selected Koroma from the off at Moor Lane and played him out wide with Clay and Alex Lawless in the centre of midfield.

There was a full debut for forward James Alabi up top and he partnered Macauley Bonne in attack against the division new boys.

Salford made the brighter start and tested Dean Brill with 21 minutes played, but the away custodian saved Carl Piergianni’s header.

Back came O’s, two minutes later, as Sam Ling cut the ball back for Lawless and his effort hit the post.

It remained goalless at half time, but it didn’t take long for the deadlock to be broken after the interval.

The Ammies moved the ball well in midfield and Danny Lloyd peeled away from the Orient defence, crossed into the area and there was Gaffney ready to volley home.

For Salford, it was a dream start to the second half, but a disaster for O’s and head coach Edinburgh.

He should have seen his side level with 50 on the clock, however, when Koroma was presented with a great chance, yet he could only fire over the crossbar.

Edinburgh introduced James Brophy just past the hour mark and Orient created another excellent chance in the 66th minute.

Captain Jobi McAnuff did well and squared for last season’s top goalscorer Bonne, but he missed the target.

Opportunities continued to be created by O’s and with quarter of an hour remaining, Bonne looked to find the net, but Liam Hogan cleared the danger.

James Dayton and Charlie Lee were brought on with 10 minutes left with Ling and Koroma making way.

O’s were pushing and pushing now and substitute Lee went agonising close when his header hit the post and his rebound effort was somehow cleared.

It seemed only a matter of time before the visitors equalised and it arrived with three minutes left.

A corner wasn’t dealt with by Salford and Clay was on hand to tap home and score the first goal of the season for Orient.

Further chances were created with Gaffney going close for the Ammies and Dayton drilling over, but it ended level at Moor Lane.

After trailing for most of the second half, it was a positive way for O’s to begin the new campaign, especially away to the bookies’ favourites for the title.

Edinburgh will hope to see Orient register their first victory on Tuesday when Kent outfit Ebbsfleet United visit E10.

Leyton Orient: Brill; Ling (Lee 80), Coulson, Elokobi, Widdowson; Koroma (Dayton 80), Lawless (Brophy 61), Clay, McAnuff; Bonne, Alabi.

Unused substitutes: Sargeant, Ekpiteta.

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