O’s stalemate

Leyton Orient v Port Vale – Sky Bet League One – Gaughan Group Stadium – Report

Leyton Orient 0-0 Port Vale

Leyton Orient, despite dominating proceedings for the majority of the match, were held to a 0-0 draw by relegation-threatened Port Vale at the Gaughan Group Stadium.  

The E10 outfit were kept at bay throughout by an inspired performance by Valiant’s goalkeeper Connor Ripley, as they failed to find the net for the third match in succession.  

Richie Wellens made four changes to his starting line-up following O’s 1-0 defeat at Wigan Athletic on Saturday with Jayden Sweeney, Jordan Brown, Joe Pigott and Rob Hunt coming into the side in place of Tom James, Darren Pratley, suspended Ethan Galbraith and Ruel Sotiriou.

Port Vale were fortunate not to fall behind almost directly after kick-off with Jesse Debrah’s back header almost deflecting over Ripley – only for the keeper to recover quickly and hang on onto the ball before it could roll back into the net.      

After a slow start, the first real opportunity of the match came in the eleventh minute when Port Vale’s Alex Mighten got his head on the end of Tom Sang’s cross only for Sol Brynn, in the centre of the goalmouth to gather easily.

O’s went close three minutes later when Brandon Cooper nodded Max Sanders’ corner just past the left post from a tight angle and with the action centred mainly in midfield up to that point, Debrah’s powerful headed effort over the crossbar from Sang’s free-kick was the only further chance of any real note thereafter as the game approached the half-hour mark.

Former O’s forward Gavin Massey’s pinpoint through ball set James Wilson up with gilt-edged chance to put Vale one up, only for the former Manchester United and Aberdeen forward to sky high over Brynn’s crossbar. 

O’s had a good shout for a penalty turned down by referee Gavin Ward after Watford loanee Shaq Forde was bundled over in the area in the thirty-ninth minute and Forde was in the thick of the action again just after when his shot from the edge of the area was deflected inches wide of the post to send the teams in with the game still scoreless at the break. 

Two minutes after the resumption, Pigott laid off the ball for the lively Forde to cut in from the right-hand side before seeing his powerfully struck effort denied by Ripley, with the keeper only managing to cling onto the ball at the second time of asking. 

Just before the hour mark, Ollie O’Neill set off on a dangerous winding run down the left side, his pace leaving the Vale defence trailing in his wake before losing possession in the centre of the area at the last moment before being able to lay the ball off or create a goalscoring opportunity for himself. 

In an attempt to change things up for O’s, Wellens made a triple substitution in the fifty-seventh minute, introducing the fresh legs of Ruel Sotiriou, James and Pratley in place of Sanders, Sweeney and Idris El Mizouni.

With O’s looking to dominate, they pushed forward confidently looking for a winner and following half chances for Forde and Sotiriou, it was only a magnificent fingertip save at full stretch by Ripley in the seventy-sixth from Forde’s curling strike that kept the scores level before O’s went close again two minutes later when Forde found Sotiriou just outside the box, with the Cypriot racing clear of the Vale defence before lashing a magnificent strike against the crossbar with Ripley well beaten.

With a final throw of the dice to try to break the deadlock, Wellens brought on forwards Zech Obiero and Dan Adu-Adjei to replace O’Neill and Pigott in the eighty-sixth minute and despite the addition of four minutes of stoppage time, neither side was able to conjure up any further opportunities as the game finished goalless.

It was a game that O’s could and indeed, should have won and Wellens and his players will be most disappointed with the result – which given the number of chances that came their way during the match, can only be looked at as two points lost rather than the one gained.

Next up for O’s in Sky Bet League One is a visit to the Lamex Stadium to play Stevenage on Saturday (3pm).

Leyton Orient: Brynn, Sweeney (James 57’) Brown, Pigott (Adu-Adjei 86’) Cooper, El Mizouni (Pratley 58’) Forde, Beckles (Capt.) O’Neill (Obeiro 86’) Sanders (Sotiriou 57’) Hunt. Subs not used: Howes, Edwards

Port Vale: Ripley, Jones, Sang, Smith (Capt.) Garrity, Mighten (Weir 68’) Ojo, Lowe, Massey (Chislett 68’) Debrah, Wilson (Dipepa 68’) Subs not used: Leutwiler, Lopata, Loft, Plant

Referee: Gavin Ward

Assistants: George Byrne and Lee Venamore

Fourth Official: Daniel Middleton