Late McDonald strike sees 10-man Gillingham secure victory over Leyton Orient
17:06 15 November 2014
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League One: Gillingham 3 Leyton Orient 2
Cody McDonald’s 97th minute strike saw Leyton Orient denied a point at 10-man Gillingham.
Adam Legzdins saved a first half penalty for the O’s, and they went in front from the spot themselves when Gianvito Plasmati slotted home earlier in the second half.
But the O’s conceded from almost two identical free-kicks as Legge headed home from Jake Hessenthaler deliveries.
Michael Doughty was shown his marching orders by referee Darren Deadman for two bookable offences.
Dagnall looked to have wrapped up a point for the O’s when his glancing header beat Stuart Nelson, but McDonald volleyed in the winner two minutes over the allotted five minutes of stoppage time.
The O’s made four changes from the side which won 2-0 against Northampton Town in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy in midweek, with Andrea Dossena making his first start at left back. Romain Vincelot featured for the first time after recovering from knee surgery, while Plasmati and Scott Cuthbert also returned.
The hosts had started brightly and Brennan Dickenson headed just wide from Gavin Hoyte’s right-wing cross.
And much to everyone’s amazement the O’s conceded a penalty when Cuthbert put in a solid challenge on Dickenson by the byline and referee Darren Deadman surprisingly pointed to the spot.
Danny Kedwell stepped up to take but his poor penalty was comfortably saved by Adam Legzdins in the O’s goal.
But other than that it was a poor half of football, with little else for either goalkeeper to do.
Michael Doughty shot over, while a tame effort from Josh Wright was well wide.
Dean Cox shot straight at Nelson, before an injured Jay Simpson was replaced by David Mooney for his first game since September.
His impact was immediate though as a deflected ball in from the striker was pounced upon by Cox and his shot from an acute angle found the side netting.
It remained goalless at the break but the half was just two minutes old when the O’s were awarded a soft penalty of their own when Wright was brought down in the box by loanee Adam Chicksen.
But the difference this time was Plasmati stepped up and slotted the ball past Nelson to give the visitors the lead.
The O’s had renewed vigour after that and a great ball in from Dossena just evaded his compatriot in the box.
But their lead lasted just eight minutes when a deep free-kick found the head of Legge and his stooping header found the net with Legzdins motionless.
Orient were almost caught on the counter when Dossena lost possession but Dickenson blazed wide when unmarked.
Gills substitute Cody McDonald almost made an immediate impact as he flashed an effort just wide as the O’s spent a period on the back foot.
Worryingly Lowry also hobbled off for the O’s but from an Orient corner they were just unable to force the ball home in a goalmouth scramble.
And the O’s hadn’t learned their lesson from an earlier free-kick as Hessenthaler’s delivery again found Legge who headed home once more.
Orient soon found themselves playing against 10 men again though when Doughty, already on a yellow, threw the ball away and Deadman pulled out a second yellow card.
Pritchard could count himself lucky to still be on the pitch having received two warnings from Deadman when on a caution, before he fired wide as the game entered the final 10 minutes.
O’s pushed forward looking for the equaliser but Dagnall was denied by a fine save by Nelson in the home goal.
But he didn’t miss a second chance as the striker glanced in Scott Cuthbert’s ball in to send the O’s faithful delirious.
Vincelot saw a fine header well held by Nelson as the O’s looked like grabbing a late winner.
However it was the O’s who would concede late on as a late Gills corner was volleyed home by McDonald despite the efforts of Pritchard on the line to give the hosts their first win in nine games and O’s made the short journey home pointless.
Gillingham: Nelson, Hoyte, Legge, Egan, Chicksen, Loft, Hessenthaler, Doughty, Dickenson, Kedwell (McDonald 62), McGlashan (Dack 62)
Unused substitutes: Fish, Morris, German, Linganzi, Norris.
Leyton Orient: Legzdins; Cuthbert, Clarke, Lowry (Baudry 69), Dossena; Pritchard, Wright, Vincelot, Cox; Plasmati (Dagnall 62), Simpson (Mooney 39).
Unused substitutes: Omozusi, Sawyer, Batt, Woods.
Attendance: 5,891 (804 Leyton Orient fans)