Leyton Orient 1-1 Port Vale
Leyton Orient at least broke their four-game goal drought, on Saturday, but are now five games without a win, with Dan Kemp salvaging a point after former Southend winger, David Worrall, had put struggling Vale ahead.
With ex-Walsall and Bristol Rovers boss, Darrell Clarke taking over in the Vale hot seat, the visitors – trying to impress – should have been in front on fifteen minutes.
A defensive slip allowed Alex Hurst a clear sight of goal, but Lawrence Vigouroux pulled off a fine point-blank block. At the other end, the O’s were completely devoid of ideas and only skipper, Jobi McAnuff’s long-range effort, close to the interval, tested a frustratingly underworked Sam Brown.
Arguably, playing out of position, at left-back, James Brophy committed ‘hari-kiri’ by trying to dribble out of his own penalty area, two minutes after the break. A limping Worrall made him pay and rifled across a stranded Vigouroux. Manager, Clarke later revealed, “David’s ankle had swollen up like a balloon and I asked him to give me another ten to fifteen minutes and get us a goal.”
Vale should have been out of sight barely a minute later, but hitman, Kurtis Guthrie failed to hit the target from Hurst’s inviting cross. Continuing to labour upfront, with top scorer, Danny Johnson, looking way off the pace, it took good 63rd-minute Luke Freeman and Kemp interplay to free up the former West Ham man to literally turn on a sixpence and grab his first goal in Orient colours.
And, two minutes later Johnson’s big chance to add to his fourteen-goal tally went a begging – unable to hit the target with a point-blank header.
The O’s were nearly made to pay as the impressive Devante Rodney – who Clarke claims “I want to bring the talent out from this player” – slammed a ten-yard header against a relieved Vigouroux’s crossbar, with twenty minutes remaining. At least the O’s had their lockdown streamed supporters on the edges of their seats with a barnstorming finish.
Firstly, Johnson had three opportunities – in the space a couple of seconds, to net, before centre-backs, Dan Happe and new signing and another ex-Shrimper, Adam Thompson, was unable to hit the target with close-range headers.
To cap it all, Conor Wilkinson forced Brown into a fine, late save. Trying to gloss over another wasted opportunity, Head Coach, Ross Embleton, claimed: “We responded well, and looked like the better team. Dan Kemp created well today and got on the scoresheet with a very nice finish.”
He added: “I thought there was a clear foul, leading up to Port Vale’s goal – as Tunji Akinola was headbutted. But, we were poor in terms of when we don’t get the free-kick, the ball goes in our box and we find ourselves one-nil down.”
Embleton concluded: “I felt we reacted really well and on another day should have won it.” Opposing boss, Clarke added: “I was very impressed with the effort and commitment my new players showed today. It’s slightly disappointing having taken the lead, we then concede. But – in the end – we did well to grind out a result.”
Vale skipper, Tom Conlon, had the last word: “I’m honoured to have been given the captain’s armband today. We’re disappointed not to have won. But, if you had asked me beforehand, I’d have taken a point from today.”
Leyton Orient: Lawrence Vigouroux, Tunji Akinola, Dan Happe, Adam Thompson, James Brophy, Jobi McAnuff, Ouss Cissé, Nick Freeman, Dan Kemp (Tristan Abrahams 81′), Conor Wilkinson, Danny Johnson Subs not used: Sam Sargeant (GK), Joe Widdowson, Josh Coulson, Jamie Turley, Sam Ling
Port Vale: Scott Brown, James Gibbons, Nathan Smith, Mustapha Olgunjin (Leon Legge 73′), Adam Crookes, Alex Hurst (Christian Montano, 90′) Luke Joyce, Tom Conlon, David Worrall (Emmanuel Oyeleke 56′), Devante Rodney, Kurtis Guthrie Subs not used: Mark Cullen, Jake Taylor, Tom Scott, Will Swan
Referee: Graham Salisbury
Assistants: Christopher Kidd and Nicholas Cooper
Fourth Official: Greg Read