Marvin Ekpiteta’s equaliser two minutes from time continued Leyton Orient’s unbeaten start to the season. Luke Armstrong looked to have secured three points for Gateshead after he slotted home his fifth of the season in the second half. O’s substitute James Alabi was sent off for a lunge on Robbie Tinkler but Orient struck late to earn a point.
Gateshead manager Steve Watson made two changes to the side that lost 1-0 at Bromley last weekend. Connor Thomson and Lewis Maloney started in midfield while Scott Boden and Cameron Salkeld dropped to the bench.
Orient manager Justin Edinburgh named an unchanged starting 11 after centre back Josh Coulson had recovered from a knock to the head last weekend.
In a slow start neither side were able to gain a foothold in proceedings with set pieces being the main danger from both sides. Robbie Tinkler saw an effort parried away by Dean Brill before Marvin Ekpiteta twice went close.
Orient were enjoying more possession than their hosts and were looking to get down their left with Jobi McAnuff and Joe Widdowson linking up. However they were finding it difficult to break down the Gateshead’s rigid system. Out of possession the Heed were getting nine men behind the ball and making it difficult for Orient to pass through.
The O’s could have taken the lead on 20 minutes, link up down the left saw MacAuley Bonne dummy McAnuff’s cross. Craig Clay’s late run into the box was timed brilliantly however he was unable to keep his shot down. Orient were beginning to push forward, Bonne went close but his goalbound effort was blocked. Clay again went close, after good work on the edge of the box, he created space but his effort was cleared away from danger.
With both sides level at the break the game seemed to open up slightly in the second. Watson was first to use the bench making a double change. Connor Thomson and Lewis Maloney made way for Cameron Salkeld and Tom White. The substitutions also saw a change of system for the Heed as they moved to a 4-3-3 system.
The introduction of the bench saw Gateshead gain the initiative with White at the forefront. Following a short corner, White created space on the right flank crossing deep to Steven Rigg. His first header was brilliantly saved by Dean Brill before Ekpiteta blocked his second header.
The Heed were controlling central areas with Orient struggling to keep possession but saw Bonne go close when he swivelled on the edge of the box but his shot was blocked for a corner. Dale Gorman replaced Charlie Lee for his first appearance of the season while James Alabi replaced James Dayton.
The O’s were caught cold with 13 minutes left, a quick free kick found White in the center circle who in turn played the ball behind the O’s defence. Ekpiteta was caught the wrong side, leaving on loan Middesbrough striker Luke Armstrong to stroke home his fifth of the season and see Gateshead take the lead for the first time in five games.
Orient looked to respond but their task was made harder when Alabi went in late on Robbie Tinkler and received his marching orders. Justin Edinburgh threw on Matt Harrold to search for the equaliser and it came with two minutes to go. Jobi McAnuff’s corner was only cleared to Ekpiteta inside the six yard box and he made no mistake, smashing home for his second of the season.
Despite five minutes of additional time, neither side was able to force a winner as they had to settle for a point a piece.
A long trip north and come back with a point. Not a bad result, a dull game with very little between the sides settled by two set pieces. Sounds a lot like National League football to me.
Not so long ago, Orient would have whimpered out to a 1-0 defeat after going down to ten men but under Edinburgh they have belief that they can create. It may have been a scrambled set piece goal but they all count. Those are the games that last season we would have lost, nothing between the sides and settled by a moment of loss of concentration.
Their goal, whose to blame, Ekpiteta for being caught wrong side of his man? The midfield for not prevented the through ball to Armstrong. It doesn’t really matter now, but after a clean sheet last week against Boreham Wood, it would have done to world of good getting back to back clean sheets.
Myles Judd continues to impress in defence, the midfield was overrun in the second period with too many times culpable of slowing down play allowing Gateshead to get back into position. With Alabi’s red card, I think Edinburgh will dip into the loan market, Koroma will be playing as a striker. Brophy is injured which only leaves two wingers in Jobi McAnuff and James Dayton. Orient lacked creativity with Bonne living on scraps for the majority of the game.
Food for thought for Edinburgh nothing will be sorted by the Dover game on Monday but could we see a new arrival by Chesterfield next weekend? Gorman looked okay when he came on, not much to note with only a 30 minute appearance. We will learn more in the coming weeks. It is important Orient back up today’s point at Gateshead with a win against Dover on Monday. We can only wait and see……