Church nous sees O’s launch amazing comeback
Leyton Orient 2 Leeds United 2 ORIENT launched an astonishing comeback to grab a vital point against in-form Leeds on Tuesday night, writes TREVOR DAVIES. It takes Geraint Williams side closer to safety after the visitors looked to have had the game wra
Leyton Orient 2 Leeds United 2
ORIENT launched an astonishing comeback to grab a vital point against in-form Leeds on Tuesday night, writes TREVOR DAVIES.
It takes Geraint Williams' side closer to safety after the visitors looked to have had the game wrapped up.
Leeds were looking for their sixth straight win and when Robert Snodgrass, the man O's tried to sign last summer, put the visitors 2-0 up on the hour, the home side looked dead and buried -especially as they had to play the last 30 minutes with just 10-men following the dismissal of Jason Demetriou.
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But Sean Thornton put O's back on course with a free kick before Simon Church, who claimed a deflection for the first goal, scrambled home an unlikely leveller five minutes from time.
A jubilant Williams said afterwards: "I'm delighted for the lads, because at 2-0 down and a man short against a team like Leeds, it could have been a long old night.
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"But the players gave everything and to come back and take a point is a fantastic performance.
"It was a real test of character, because a side like Leeds can run you all over the place. But we didn't let it happen and actually came back into the game.
"Getting the first goal so quickly was important and then we kept believing we could do it. It's a big point."
Thornton returned to the starting line-up and Andrew Cave-Brown was recalled in place of the injured Stephen Purches, while Wayne Gray replaced Scott McGleish up front. In a high tempo game, it was Leeds who edged the first half and the visitors took the lead on 19 minutes.
Charlie Daniels, who had been booked for an early foul, could not afford to commit another rash challenge and the impressive Fabian Delph took advantage, to turn the defender and slide an inch-perfect pass into the path of Snodgrass, who shot across Jamie Jones into the corner of the net.
Leeds looked a class act, but O's gradually fought their way into the contest and on 32 minutes Jimmy Smith sent a speculative volley just over from the edge of the box.
After the break, Delph shot wide when he latched on to a poor clearance from Jones, before the defining moment came on the hour.
O's failed to clear a corner and Luciano Becchio's shot bounced up and was blocked on the line by Demetriou.
Referee Trevor Kettle, who blew hot and cold all game, pointed to the spot and despite Orient's protests sent the midfielder off. Snodgrass stepped up and sent Jones the wrong way and Leeds looked odds-on to win the game.
But, five minutes later, Thornton's free-kick looked to have been deflected in by Church as Leeds keeper Casper Ankergren stood transfixed.
"Simon's got them both," confirmed Williams after the game, and spurred by the goal, O's went for the jugular.
JJ Melligan replaced Cave-Brown in an attacking move, but the home side were almost caught out when Jonathan Howson sent in a fierce drive that Jones tipped on to the post and then completed a marvellous double save, denying Becchio's follow-up.
McGleish, who had been rested in preparation for the Easter programme, replaced Gray and O's gained their reward five minutes from time.
Melligan's cross was headed away, but the ball fell to Morgan, and when his low cross was spilled by Ankergren, Church swept the ball home.