Orient lose perfect record
- Credit: Archant
Sky Bet League One: Leyton Orient 1 Walsall 1
Leyton Orient lost their 100 per cent start to the season as ten-men Walsall battled to a point at Brisbane Road.
And O’s boss Russell Slade was in reflective mood after dropping points for the first time this season.
“It’s fantastic that we’re disappointed but whatever the outcome I know this; we’re three points clear at the top of the table so we have to take that after nine games,” said Slade.
Andy Butler was sent off early on in the first half and was later followed by Romain Vincelot deep into second half stoppage time as both sides ended up with ten players in a frustrating afternoon for the O’s.
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David Mooney had fired the hosts into the lead before Craig Westcarr’s 70th-minute strike meant Walsall travelled back north with a point.
Slade felt that his side lacked intensity in periods during the match adding: For all the possession we had, we didn’t move the ball quick enough at times, whether Monday’s game has caught up with us I don’t know because we didn’t seem to play with that same energy and vigour at times.”
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The hosts started brightly, forcing a couple of early corners, but it was the aforementioned Butler who nearly nodded the visitors into a seventh minute lead, as his thumping header went wide of the near post.
Orient reacted and should have been ahead on the quarter hour mark when neat passing play between Lloyd James and Kevin Lisbie allowed Moses Odubajo the time and space to deliver a floated ball which Dean Cox could only head onto the back of Adam Chambers.
With the game evenly poised Saddlers captain Butler swung the contest in the hosts favour after he was dismissed for a lunging dive on Romain Vincelot close to an irate Orient bench.
Referee Graham Scott had no hesitation to pull out the red card on what was a reckless challenge from the experienced defender.
Dean Smith brought on Ben Purkiss to shore up the Saddlers backline to keep things tight, but they soon found themselves with a great chance to open the scoring. Troy Hewitt was adjudged onside when in front of the defensive line, but the striker panicked and played the ball back to Craig Westcarr instead of turning and shooting at goal when he was clean through.
That gave the hosts the proverbial kick they needed to up their performance. With 36 minutes on the clock Orient created a good opportunity from some slack Walsall passing. The ball fell to Cox in the centre circle and he neatly played through David Mooney whose jinking run could not be matched by his finish as he scuffed harmlessly wide.
The Irishman wouldn’t have to wait long for another chance and this time he took it with aplomb.
A high lofted ball from James into the Walsall box was not dealt with by Saddlers keeper Richard O’Donnell under pressure from Kevin Lisbie. He could only flap the ball into the path of Mooney who coolly drove the ball home for his ninth of the season.
With cries of “top of the league” ringing in their ears Orient almost doubled the lead three minutes before the break.
Lisbie’s clever one-two with Mooney sent the Jamaican free in the six-yard box on the angle, only to see his driven effort denied by O’Donnell.
The visitors attempted to nick an equaliser in injury time, forcing a series of corners but none of them threatened Jamie Jones as the leaders took the goal advantage into half-time.
At the start of the second half both teams opened up as they looked for the vital second goal of the match.
Andy Taylor drove a dangerous cross into the Orient area which fortunately for the hosts could only found Jones.
Orient kept applying the pressure at the other end and eight minutes after the restart Cox fired a low effort across O’Donnell after being played through by Mooney, but the Saddlers keeper used his legs to repel the O’s winger.
Along with Cox, Lisbie was proving a thorn in Walsall’s side and was creating havoc with his runs deep in the Saddlers half, but it failed to materialise into a crucial second goal and Smith’s men made them pay with 20 minutes to go.
A deep cross from the left fell to an unmarked Hewitt at the far post who calmly headed the ball back into the path of Westcarr who nodded into an empty net.
Orient went back on the charge and nearly got themselves back in front as Romain Vincelot’s dangerous whipped cross fell into the path of Lisbie, whose fine header was repelled by O’Donnell.
And with a minute to go the O’s were so close to snatching a late winner as Mathieu Baudry saw his headed effort superbly tipped onto the crossbar by O’Donnell from a James corner.
There was no more frustrated figure than Vincelot who into the foruth minute of injury time made a clumsy challenge to earn his second booking of the match to make it ten men a piece.
Both sides saw out the final minute as Orient lost their perfect record in League One.
Leyton Orient: Jones, Omozusi, Vincelot, Cuthbert (Batt 74), Baudry, Cox, James, Lisbie (Stockley 85), Mooney, Odubajo, Clarke. Unused subs: Sawyer, Larkins, Lasimant, Gorman, Bartley.
Walsall: O’Donnell, Taylor, Butler, Featherstone (Purkiss 22), Adam Chambers, Mantom, Lalkovic (Baxendale 68), Westcarr, Downing, James Chambers (Benning 88), Hewitt. Unused subs: Hemmings, Roberts, Sawyers, McQuilken.
Attendance: 5,429 (355 Walsall fans).
Referee: Graham Scott.