A 94th minute equalizer from Ollie Palmer handed Leyton Orient a precious point in their battle to beat the drop. Cambridge took a first half lead when Harrison Dunk slotted home from inside the area. Orient struggled to create in attacking areas with Cambridge wasting opportunities to seal the points from Dunk and Luke Berry. But Palmer’s low finish from Paul McCallum’s knock down sees Orient unbeaten in three home league games for the first time since December 2015.
Fresh from their 3-2 Boxing Day triumph, manager Andy Edwards named an unchanged O’s side. 17 year old goalscorer Sam Dalby retained his place alongside Paul McCallum with the pair netted all three O’s goals on Boxing Day. Callum Kennedy returned to the bench after missing the Crawley match.
After five consecutive league wins, U’s manager Shaun Derry named an unchanged side for the third consecutive game. Winger Piero Mingoia continued on the right flank fresh from his winner against Stevenage on Boxing Day while Uche Ikpeazu was the main man in attack with Luke Berry playing slightly deeper.
In a rather slow start neither side was able to gain a foothold on proceeding with possession changing hands on a constant basis. Paul McCallum headed wide following a Michael Collins free kick before the away side highlighted their danger. Luke Berry who was drifting into space throughout, cut back on to his right foot but his teasing cross just evaded Ikpeazu in the Orient penalty area.
Orient were slowly working their way in the game with 17 year old Sam Dalby creating the next opportunity for the hosts. His break away down the right saw the youngster cut back on his left foot but his cross was blocked. The loose ball fell to Myles Judd who’s cross was headed wide at the back post by McCallum.
Nicky Hunt’s volley from distance flew narrowly wide following a loose ball from McCallum long throw before Sandro Semedo had a great chance to put Orient ahead. Gavin Massey broke from the wide, his ball to McCallum was quickly shifted to Semedo on the left but his goal-bound shot was parried wide by Will Norris in the U’s goal with Brad Halliday clearing the loose ball.
As the game was opening up, the away side struck on 21 minutes, after a throw on the right hand side, Ikpeazu rolled Michael Collins. Nigel Atangana tackle saw the ball fall to Berry on the edge of the area, the midfielder scuffed his initial effort with Myles Judd tackling him to prevent him shooting. However, the ball fell to the unmarked Harrison Dunk who slotted home putting the U’s ahead.
Following the goal, Orient struggled to gain possession with Cambridge in control, Berry fired straight at Cisak from distance while Harrison Dunk could only shoot wide after a clever back heel from Berry. Orient were handed a blow when defender Teddy Mezague was replaced through injury with Yvan Erichot replacing him.
Neither manager made any changes to their sides at the break but Orient were still only making half chances through Massey and Judd down the right. Edwards was forced into a second change when Ollie Palmer replaced striker Sam Dalby was forced off with an ankle injury.
Shaun Derry’s men nearly added a second following a quick break from an O’s corner, Ikpeazu found Dunk on the left wing but the goalscorer could only drag his shot wide. Ikpeazu then saw an effort blocked after good pressure on the O’s defence. Orient did force Norris into a save but Paul McCallum could only head straight at the keeper following a Collins corner.
Ikpeazu had a goal ruled out for offside before another quick counter from the away side saw Dunk’s pull back find Berry on the edge of the box however a brilliant block saw the effort cleared away. Max Clark saw a effort from distance tipped behind by Alex Cisak before Dunk wasted a glorious opportunity to wrap up the three points. After Clark’s run forward was found by Mingoia through ball, the substitute crossed to Dunk at the back post but the winger saw his header clip the bar and go over.
Norris was still rarely troubled in the United goal with substitute Ollie Palmer only shooting tamely at him before Josh Koroma fired wide. However with Cambridge failing to put the game to bed, Palmer popped up in added time to stroke home after McCallum knock down to hand Orient a precious point and preventing a sixth straight league win for Cambridge.
Five games in and Andy Edwards and Danny Webb have finally got a team playing with some passion and for the badge on the front. The duo seen to blending some young blood with some experienced players and we are slowly starting to turn the corner. The mood is different around the group, management, stadium and fans; there is some belief that Orient can pick up a result.
To put in to perspective before yesterday’s game, the last 14 home league games Orient had conceded first they had lost. Yes, Cambridge had the chances to wrap up three points on more than one occasion in the game but how many times have we said that in recent years about the Orient?
And what a difference having a midfield two in Michael Collins and Nigel Atangana who both will put their foot in. Collins in the last two games has played like the captain of the side. If Orient haven’t wrapped up his signature, then they are making a horrendous mistake.
Robbie Weir on the bench but perhaps Edwards has been quite canny here. After his mistake against Wycombe, Edwards dropped him for the visit of Crawley, about time if you asked me. But paramount to Orient is picking up results and getting points on the board. Taking him out of the firing line, will help the starting 11, then when points are starting to flow, Edwards can slowly bring Weir back in.
A point yesterday was exactly what Orient needed to back up the win on Boxing Day however the Exeter game tomorrow is the more important game. A team who has struggled at home picking up just one win at St James Park in the league and have the worse home record in the entire football league.
A lovely 4 hour car journey tomorrow, it better be worth it……..