O’s stalemate

Leyton Orient v Wycombe Wanderers – Sky Bet League One Gaughan Group Stadium – Report

Leyton Orient 0-0 Wycombe Wanderers  

In the final game of an incredibly successful 2023 for the club, Leyton Orient shared the spoils with Wycombe Wanderers in a 0-0 draw at the Gaughan Group Stadium – their second successive clean sheet in E10 in three days.

With the Chairboys without a win in the league since September having taken only five points from the last thirty-three available, it was only an inspired performance from goalkeeper Max Stryjek – pulling off two outstanding saves from Tom James, whilst also denying Shaq Forde twice – that kept O’s at bay to earn the point for the visitors.  

Richie Wellens made just one change from the side that defeated Charlton Athletic 1-0 at on Boxing Day with Jordan Brown coming into the starting line-up to replace Rob Hunt.

Wycombe Wanderers boss Matt Bloomfield meanwhile brought Joe Low, Ryan Taffazolli, Freddie Potts, Dale Taylor and Garath McCleary into the starting line-up to replace Kane Vincent-Young, Joe Jacobson, Richard Keogh, David Wheeler and Sam Vokes following the Chairboys’ 1-0 defeat at Exeter City.

Following a moment of silence to remember fans of both clubs who have passed away during the year, the match kicked off in blustery conditions and former O’s loanee Kieran Sadlier went close after just five minutes when after cutting inside wide on the left, his fizzing effort flew just inches past the right post.

With O’s playing their usual crisp passing game, Dan Happe threaded a superb through ball wide to Brown, who in turn found Ruel Sotiriou in the area – only for the Cypriot to shoot over the crossbar.

Just before the quarter of an hour mark, James played a pinpoint crossfield pass into the box for Forde and despite the Watford loanee striking the ball well and with Stryjek beaten, the covering Low managed to get back to hack the ball off the line – much to the delight of the vociferous Chairboys support.

After a break in play following an injury to one of the referee’s assistants – with the fourth official Alex Chilowicz having to take the flag for the remainder of the game, Wycombe had a shout for a penalty denied when Taylor was brought to ground – only for Forde to break immediately at the other end with Josh Scowen reacting quickly to dispossess the O’s forward in the area before he was able to fashion a shooting opportunity for himself.

With both teams looking industrious and the play flowing from end to end, just before half-time Ethan Galbraith was brought down on the edge of the area by McCleary and with Theo Archibald playing the resultant free-kick short to James, the Welshman’s piledriving effort was tipped past the far post at full stretch by Stryjek – a top class save that ensured the Chairboys would go in at the break still on level terms.

O’s started the second half brightly with Forde cutting inside before firing over the crossbar from distance just after the resumption.

After a free kick was awarded for a foul on Dan Agyei, James went close again in the fifty-third minute with a dipping strike that Stryjek managed to push past the post to safety and just before the hour mark, it was James once more – after picking up the rebound from Archibald’s shot, with a first time effort – inches wide of the target – that almost broke the deadlock as O’s drove forward relentlessly in search of the opening goal. 

Just minutes before the close substitutes George Moncur and Agyei linked well to set up Forde with an excellent opportunity wide on the right-hand side – only for the youngster to fire directly into the midriff of Stryjek. 

Despite the addition of four extra minutes and half chances at both ends, what had admittedly at times been a fast-flowing and energetic encounter concluded with both sides unable to conjure up the moment of quality required to force the breakthrough needed in front of goal to claim the three points. 

Next up for Leyton Orient is a trip to the Abbey Stadium on New Year’s Day to play Cambridge United (3pm).      

Leyton Orient: Brynn, James, Happe, Brown, Sotiriou (Agyei 35’) Archibald (Pigott 61’) El Mizouni (Moncur 76’) Forde, Pratley (Capt) (Sanders 61’) Beckles, Galbraith Subs not used: Howes, Sweeney, Turns

Wycombe Wanderers: Stryjek, Grimmer, Scowen (Capt) Tafazolli, Leahy, McCleary (Vincent-Young 76’) Low, Potts, D Taylor (L Taylor 76’) Phillips (Wheeler 69’) Sadlier (Forino 90’) Subs not used: Ravazzoli, Vokes, Ward.

Referee: Jacob Miles

Assistants: Garry Maskell and Ryan Whittaker

Fourth Official: Alex Chilowicz

Attendance: 8,658 (1,019 from Wycombe Wanderers)