Danny Grainger’s penalty three minutes from time ensured Carlisle maintained their unbeaten start to the season. Grainger slotted home from the spot after Liam Kelly handled inside the box. Paul McCallum gave the O’s the lead on the stroke of half time before half time substitute Charlie Wyke tapped home 20 seconds after the restart. Orient responded when Harry Cornick fired home after a mazy run inside the box before Grainger’s penalty shared the spoils.
Carlisle made two changes from the side that drew 1-1 at home to Accrington last weekend. Shaun Miller came in for former Orient striker Jabo Ibehre who dropped to the bench while Reggie Lambe dropped out for Mark Ellis who slotted into a back three for the hosts.
Orient who had the best away record in the division named an unchanged team from their 2-1 victory at Morecambe last weekend. Fresh from his first goal for the O’s last week, Jordan Bowery continued to partner Paul McCallum in attack.
Carlisle who remained the only unbeaten side in the division started on the front foot keeping the majority of the possession. With their 3-5-1-1 system, the Cumbrians always had an option on the flanks through Tom Miller and Danny Grainger. Shaun Miller saw an effort blocked early on for the hosts with their set pieces especially their long throws causing the away side problems.
Paul McCallum had Orient’s first shot of note but Mark Gillespie saved easily down to his left. Orient were sitting back letting Carlisle have the ball in midfield but looking to break if the opportunity came about. Liam Kelly was looking to make it four in four but blazed well over from distance before wasting a great chance for Orient just before the half hour. Following a good move, Robbie Weir found Gavin Massey on the right, the former Colchester winger pulled the ball back to the onrushing Kelly who blazed over from inside the box.
After the half hour mark, Carlisle started to turn up the heat forcing the O’s further and further back. Nicky Adams who was popping up in between the lines found space on the edge of the box but the former Northampton winger saw his shot curl on the post and away. Shaun Miller was next to try his luck but his effort sailed straight into the arms of Alex Cisak.. The hosts were creating chances but were inches away from connecting crosses on numerous occasions.
Orient were finding it hard to get out of their half but as time ticked down to half time, the away side started to put their foot on the ball. Callum Kennedy who had recently regained his place in the starting 11 advanced down the left but his cross was mistimed by Paul McCallum who headed wide of the mark. Carlisle seemed to be settling for 0-0 at the break but Orient had other ideas, Robbie Weir found Jordan Bowery in space. The former Oxford man played in Paul McCallum inside the area and the Orient striker made no mistake firing underneath Gillespie to give the away side the lead.
Despite enjoying large spells of possession, Carlisle had failed to convert possession into goals. Keith Curle wasted no time bringing on Reggie Lambe and Charlie Wyke at the break as his side move to a more conventional 4-4-2 formation. The change in formation offered rewards in seconds, Shaun Miller progressed down the right and his cross found an unmarked Wyke who tapped home 20 seconds into the second half.
A perfect start to the half for the hosts who could have completed the turnaround three minutes into the second period. Adams who moved to a left wing position cut in from his flank but his dipping effort was brilliantly tipped over by Cisak as the away side looked rattled.
With the change in shape for the hosts, more space was presented in the midfield with both sides looking to push forward. Paul McCallum, the recent long throw specialist, was causing problems with Weir blazing a half chance over. Following a McCallum throw, Massey found space at the back post but his ball back to Weir was blazed over the stand.
Ollie Palmer replaced Jordan Bowery who had been struggling since a heavy collision with Gillesphie in the first half. The former Mansfield striker was straight into the action, good work from the busy Harry Cornick down the right created space but his cross was behind Palmer who could only head wide.
Cornick continued to be a threat for the O’s down the right side and put his side back ahead with a goal that he will cherish for a while. Receiving the ball on the wing, the man on loan from Bournemouth jinked his way into the box. With Carlisle’s defenders standing off, Cornick broke into the six yard box driving the ball into the far corner for his first Orient goal.
Andy Hessenthaler’s men grew in confidence after regaining the lead with Cornick seeing an effort from distance deflected wide for a corner. Carlisle threw on Jabo Ibehere in place of Shuan Miller as looked to maintain their unbeaten record. With Orient continuing to sit back in defence they were inviting pressure on to them.
Charlie Wyke could only graze the side netting following a cross from the right but the nerves amongst the Orient faithful remained. Sandro Semedo replaced Paul McCallum as Cornick moved to a no 10 role behind Ollie Palmer. The hosts were throwing everything at Orient who looked very nervy in defence and crumbled three minutes from time. After a break down the right substitute Reggie Lambe was played in, his cross appeared to be handled by Liam Kelly as he slid to block the cross. Referee Ben Toner wasted little time in pointing to the spot, Danny Grainger stepped up and fired the ball home to level proceedings once more.
Orient looked to hold on for a point while Carlisle searched for a winner as five minutes were added on. Neither side were able to muster a late chance and settled for a share of the spoils, leaving both sides just outside the playoffs in 8th and 9th respectively.
A draw away at Carlisle, a side unbeaten in their opening five matches, would you have taken a point. I certainly would have done, Keith Curle has built a good squad at Brunton Park and they were the best side Orient have faced so far this season. Surprisingly once they changed system to a 4-4-2 they began to trouble Orient more defensively but is that exactly that difficult. A team which passes the ball around very nicely looking to create overloads on the flanks with runners from midfield.
Four points from two long trips to Morecambe and Carlilse is a great return but the fact remains that these results need to be backed up at Brisbane Road in the coming weeks. It was by far a classic at Brunton Park despite the 2-2 scoreline, the game certainly livened up just before the break.
It was a tale of a frantic two minutes in which Orient scored just before half time, the perfect time to score, well it is unless you concede 20 seconds into the second half. The second time in a week which Orient have led at the break but relinquished it within five minutes of the second half. What is said in the teamtalk? Lessons have not been learnt in the last week which presented Carlisle with the carrot dangled for the three points.
Orient still show worrying signs at the back with the inability to keep a clean sheet. The O’s have only kept 1 clean sheet in nine matches this season. Despite creating going forward and scoring goals, the defence frailties which have troubled them in recent seasons continue to be at the fore.
Game management, a term which must be added to Orient’s dictionary. The ability to be able to give them themselves the platform when leading in a game and seeing the game out which they did at Morecambe last weekend, but having to score two goals in the process. That remains an issue, with Orient’s backline, the fact remains Orient have to score at least twice to win a game.
Going forward, Harry Cornick remains a real threat and the Bournemouth loanee definitely has a future at a higher level. The youngster ran his socks off down the right, grabbing a goal which he richly deserved for his display. However, with Liam Kelly and Robbie Weir in the centre of midfield in the absence of the injured Nigel Atangana, they still seemed very very similar. Nigel offers something different than Kelly and Weir who is still regaining full fitness. In the first half Orient’s midfield duo were outnumbered by Carlisle’s midfield which caused problems.
It is still work in progress at Brisbane Road but the absence of Andy Hessenthaler on the touchline when Orient are under pressure does not provide you with confidence in the stands. At times, it was clear to see what Carlisle were planning to do but Hess appeared content with sitting on the bench.
It was a point gained in Orient’s attempt to return to the third tier of English football but when 2-1 up away from home with only three minutes to go, your team should be able to hold on. Well, we are Leyton Orient and anything is possible, the last three seasons just proves that.
Onwards and upwards, the key is to pick up results at home which builds on Orient’s unbeaten away form. Yeovil up next Saturday, a game which the O’s will be heavy favourites but will they have the ability to break the Glovers down.
Two long trips in a week north, two early starts and late nights but what is better than following your side up and down the country? It still remains it is the hope that kills you…. all too well if you support Leyton Orient.