Substitute James Alabi struck in stoppage time as Orient made it ten unbeaten at Halifax. The O’s were dominant throughout but wasted key chances to go ahead. Halifax rarely threatened but took the lead when Dayle Southwell slotted home from the spot. But for third away game this season, Orient snatched a point in stoppage time when James Alabi’s shot sneaked home.
Fresh from three wins on the bounce, Orient head coach Justin Edinburgh named an unchanged side for the sixth consecutive game. Midfielder Charlie Lee recovered from a dead leg to start in midfield alongside Craig Clay.
On the back of two consecutive away draws, Halifax boss Jamie Fullarton named an unchanged side for the visit of Leyton Orient. Defender Nathan Clarke started against one of his former clubs.
It was Orient who were immediately on the front foot, with the majority of possession at the Shay. Josh Koroma was first to have a sighter but his effort was easily saved by Sam Johnstone in the Halifax goal. The O’s were not used to having so much of the ball with defender Marvin Ekpiteta next to go close. Following a James Dayton free kick, the ball fell to Ekpiteta but his left footed effort was tipped around the post.
Orient were well on top and dominating a Halifax side who were trying to absorb the pressure. Neat play in midfield saw Koroma see an effort spilt by Johnstone as they searched for the opener. Charlie Lee was dictating play in midfield but it was Myles Judd who created the next chance but his inswinging cross was headed over by Macauley Bonne.
The Shaymen were trying to hit Orient on the break when they had the chance but it was Orient who did just that on 37 minutes. Jobi McAnuff found James Dayton on the right hand side, the winger set Bonne up but the forward curled his effort over the bar; a glorious chance for the opener.
Both Orient’s full backs in Judd and Joe Widdowson were offering themselves forward and it was the latter who nearly set Koroma up. Lee played Widdowson in down the left but the defender’s cross was inches away from the foot of Koroma.
With scores level at the break and Orient dominant from the first whistle, it was a case of not enough quality in the final third. The half time break should have helped Halifax but it was the O’s who should have taken the lead on 53 minutes. After Bonne broke the offside trap, his first time cross found Koroma who could only direct the ball wide of the post. A clear cut chance, would Orient regret their missed chances?
If you were an Orient fan, the next minute had an inevitability about it. After so much of the play in the first half and a failure to take their chances, we knew what was coming. Brill failed to come out for a ball which Judd cleared, as the ball was cleared high, Matty Koslyo nipped in front of Marvin Ekipiteta who brought the midfielder down. Dayle Southwell stepped up from the spot and cooly put Halifax ahead.
A sucker punch for Orient but a up lift for the Shaymen who gained some momentum going forward. The O’s were struggling to get up with Josh Coulson and Ekpiteta blocking well from crosses. Lee did go close for Orient after making space in midfield, his low shot trickled wide of the target.
Justin Edinburgh threw on Matt Harrold in place of Craig Clay and James Alabi for James Dayton in search for the equaliser. The O’s still kept playing but struggled to create with over hit crosses. However, with late goals a constant feature this season, the belief was there that a goal would come.
And it did, just entering added time, the ball fell to substitute James Alabi who’s shot crept past Sam Johnstone to send Orient fans, players and management wild in celebration. The least Orient deserved for that performance, but remember this is Orient and it’s not over till that final whistle.
As expected Halifax were awarded a free kick just outside the box, Koslyo stepped up and saw his curling effort tipped over by Dean Brill. However, they still could have won it when Nathan Clarke rose unmarked from the resulting corner but could only find the side netting.
A commanding, dominant display but come away with only a point. But it could have been worse had Alabi not netted an injury equaliser. A very revealing and interesting week for Edinburgh and his team. Today, Orient were very nearly punished for not taking their chances. Two guilt edge chances through Bonne and Koroma who should have put then game out of sight.
But like any game in football, don’t take chances it will cost you. Halifax were poor today and if not the worse team Orient have faced this season. No creativity going forward at all, but was that because were so much better? Criticise their play, their tactics of trying to absorb pressure and wait for a set piece or a bit of luck nearly paid off when Southwell tucked home from the spot.
But with this Orient side, you know that something will happen late in games. For the fifth consecutive game, they struck after the 75th minute to grab a point and maintain their unbeaten run.
- Did you know nine of Orient’s 16 league goals have come after the 75th minute
Charlie Lee played well dictating in midfield, Myles Judd continues to improve down the right and Joe Widdowson is like Ronseil – Does it exactly what it says on the tin. A consistent performer who was yet again impressive both attacking and defending. An unsung hero who people continue to criticise despite him being one of, if not the most consistent Orient players. A six or seven out of ten every week.
Forehead Coulson commanding at the back and led the defence well but it was in attack were Orient lacked. The chances missed were poor but Alabi gained some redemption for his red card at Gateshead with the last ditch equaliser.
Ten unbeaten as we host Barnet next week at the Breyer Group Stadium, a chance to go 11 unbeaten in the league. All I know is, these away trips are bloody brilliant especially with these late goals. Their is a sense of togetherenss from the players and management and the fans. Just check out the scenes on the touchline and in the away end.
It’s never dull being an Orient fan but you wouldn’t want it any other way. Onwards to Barnet at home next weekend.