Leyton Orient fight back for Walsall draw

This Is Local London: The O's trailed 1-0 at Walsall at the break: Simon O'Connor The O's trailed 1-0 at Walsall at the break: Simon O'Connor

Leyton Orient lost ground in the automatic promotion race despite fighting back to earn a 1-1 draw at Walsall in League 1.

Walsall made a fast start and deservedly took the lead when Paul Downing rifled the ball home after Orient failed to clear a corner. 

Orient grabbed a fortunate equaliser in the final 15 minutes when Nathan Clarke's long-range strike deflected in off Downing.

But with Wolves and Brentford both winning Russell Slade's side slipped further behind the top two in the division.

The O's made two changes to the side beaten by the Bees last weekend. Defender Mathieu Baudry returned from his hamstring injury in place of Gary Sawyer. Chris Dagnall was also brought into the attack with Kevin Lisbie on the bench.

Walsall almost grabbed an early lead but Eldin Jakupovic produced a brilliant save to turn Milan Lalkovic's shot onto the post.

But the Saddlers scored the opening goal after 14 minutes when the O's failed to clear a corner and Downing smashed the ball home from close range.

The visitors were struggling to deal with Walsall's pace in attack and the hosts almost made it 2-0 but Downing failed to find the target from a tight angle. 

Orient's first effort on goal came from David Mooney but his shot took a deflection and was easily claimed by keeper Richard O'Donnell. 

Romain Vincelot picked up a booking for a foul which will keep him out for two games after a tenth yellow card of the season. 

The O's finally threatened Walsall's goal but Mooney could not head on target from Elliot Omozusi's cross. Orient kept the pressure on but no-one was able to get on the end of Baudry's flick-on in the area. 

Mooney had an ambitious volley from long range at the start of the second half but the striker's effort looped over the bar.

Walsall went close when Lalkovic charged towards goal but Jakupovic came out and got an important touch.

The hosts kept the pressure on and Westcarr fired in an effort which the Orient keeper had to parry. 

Dagnall went close to an equaliser but his low strike was parried by O'Donnell and the keeper did well to push Mooney's fierce strike round the post. 

Slade made a double substitution as he brought on Jamie Ness and Lisbie in place of Lloyd James and Dagnall.

The Saddlers tested Jakupovic again but Romaine Sawyers' strike was too close to the visitors' keeper. 

Orient benefited from a huge stroke of luck when Clarke's strike took a wicked deflection off Downing to wrongfoot the keeper for the O's equaliser. 

The visitors had a chance in injury time through Mooney but he headed over as Slade's side had to settle for a point at the Bescot Stadium. 

Walsall: O'Donnell; Taylor, Butler, Downing, Chambers; Westcarr, A Chambers, Mantom, Lalkovic (Baxendale, 81); Sawyers, Brandy

Subs not used: Featherstone, Benning, Roberts, Hewitt, McQuilkin, Ngoo

Leyton Orient: Jakupovic; Omozusi, Clarke, Baudry, Cuthbert; Cox, James (Ness, 68), Vincelot, Odubajo; Mooney, Dagnall (Lisbie, 68)

Subs not used: Jones, Sawyer, Lasimant, Bartley, Simpson

Referee: T Robinson

Attendance: 5,779 (613)

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