Leyton Orient moved outside of the relegation places with a home draw against promotion chasers MK Dons. The Dons who had won 3 away already this season struggled to breakdown last season’s play off finalists, who had to play the last 2 minutes with 10 men after French center half Mathieu Baudry received two cautions in two minutes.
The O’s were coming off the back of rescuing a point away at Sheffield United last week thanks to Romain Vincelot’s stoppage time header, making two changes Shaun Batt and Mathieu Baudry returning for Elliot Omozusi and the suspended Jobi McAnuff. MK Dons were looking to continue where they left off in their last game at Yeovil after not playing due to the International break last week. Karl Robinson made 3 changes to his side with Dean Bowditch, Mark Randall and Antony Kay replacing Will Grigg, Darren Potter and Tom Flanagan.
The Dons started well playing the ball around nicely with both Darren Powell and Dean Bowditch looking to make runs inside their full backs. They could have taken the lead on 21 minutes, Mark Randall took aim with a volley just outside the box which was parried by Gary Woods to Benik Afobe who was following up. But the Arsenal loanee saw his shot brilliantly tipped onto the bar by Woods. Both teams were struggling to breakdown the defenses but with the Dons having one of the hottest properties in their midfield they had to the quality to do so. Deli Alli who has been a shining light for the Dons with his performances which has alerted Premier League clubs especially with his role in their 4-0 Carling Cup win over Manchester United.
Orient began to press the Dons defense with Jay Simpson having a header deflected wide with the resulting corner seeing Shane Lowry having a 40 yard half volley brilliantly tipped round the post by David Martin. The home side should have taken the lead on 36 minutes, after a Dons corner the ball fell to on loan Wolves midfielder, Jack Price. The central midfielder played a through ball with the outside of his foot to Shaun Batt but the forward saw his one on one attempt easily saved by Martin. The game was predominantly being played in the midfield with both teams finding it hard to create space in the final third with Orient striker, Darius Henderson continuing to miss place passes much to the home crowd’s frustration.
All square at the break, both sides started the second half brightly with the game getting more stretched. The tempo and pace increased with Alli beginning to run the game for the Dons in midfield, his vision, touch and quality on the ball was easy to see in a game lacking quality throughout. Orient began to press higher to prevent the Dons playing out from the back but they were leaving space on the counter which is well known to have been a problem for Orient this season. Chris Dagnall replaced Shaun Batt looking to give the home side more energy in the final third in the remaining 30 minutes.
As the minutes ticked down both teams pushed for a winner with Simpson flashing a cross over but no one was able to connect and Kyle McFadzean saw a header flash over from a corner. For the second week in a row Orient could not finish the game with 11 men on the pitch after Mathieu Baudry saw red after picking up two yellow cards in two minutes. The first for persistent fouling after bringing down Afobe and the second for a foul on the same player with the Dons breaking from an Orient attack. The Dons piled men forward to try and nick a winner with Afobe looking for a penalty but only getting a yellow for his troubles, ultimately neither team could break the deadlock.
After all the turmoil in the beginning months of the season, Kevin Nugent announced after the match that he has been made interim manager which may not be favorable with all the fans but he knows the club and players. With the lack of communication from owner, director and the club, it is no wonder why they have not been able to appoint another manager. The club needs some consistency on and off the pitch and with two draws away at Sheffield United and home to MK Dons the tide may just be turning. But be under no illusion that without Lloyd James and Dean Cox, the O’s lack a threat going forward. With Baudry and Clarke now suspended for the game at Doncaster on Tuesday, the O’s squad will get tested to the limit. Shane Lowry had another solid performance with a MOTM display but with another defensive re-shuffle he will be shifted positions on Tuesday. We shall see how Nugent fairs in the next couple of weeks but with tough tests away at Doncaster and Port Vale, home to Coventry and Preston; Orient need to pick up form quickly.
The Dons on the other hand remain in the play off places but consistency is a problem for Robinson’s men. With creative players in the team the Dons will be in the play off mix come the end of the season but they will need to be more clinical with their territorial advantage in the following weeks. And with Deli Alli playing well he will keep higher league clubs watching.