Blades FT: Leyton Orient 1 Sheffield United 1

Chris Porter
Chris Porter
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Sheffield United threatened to come away from Orient with all three points before a late goal meant they had to settle for a draw.

Russell Slade, the Leyton Orient manager, believes regular nights out at a local French restaurant have been responsible for improving team spirit behind the scenes his club.

Russell Slade and Nigel Clough

Russell Slade and Nigel Clough

Having won 10 of their opening 13 outings, Sheffield United’s latest opponents can hardly be accused of beginning the season at a snail’s pace.

But, despite entering this encounter ranked second in the League One table, the fact Orient had only taken four points from the three fixtures preceeding United’s visit, is prompting some critics to suggest that cracks are starting to show.

Nigel Clough, whose team would gladly swap places with their counterparts at the Matchroom Stadium, was quick to distance himself from such claims before making the long journey south.

The United manager, insisting that Orient are destined to secure a top six finish, will therefore not have been surprised to see them apply plenty of early pressure with Batt a robust presence in attack alongside the more subtle talents of Mooney.

Baudry slashed wildly off target when Collins and Hill scrambled to clear in the fourth minute.

But it was Batt, powering his way through the middle, who was responsible for drawing the foul from McMahon which rules the United defender out of the visitors’ next game.

Mooney’s first contribution was to win the 11th minute corner which, but for Long’s bravery, would have seen Orient take the lead.

James dragged the set-piece back towards the edge of the area and the United goalkeeper gathered well at the second attempt despite Batt’s formidable presence.

McMahon excelled himself with a perfectly-timed tackle to deny Cox soon after as a series of rapier-like counter-attacks thrust United on to the back foot before Coady’s patient probing delivered some respite.

United, who arrived in the capital last night having taken seven points from Clough’s first five league matches at the helm, arelocked in a battle for survival. Developing a combative, hard-nosed edge has been the former Derby County chief’s top priority since taking charge at Bramall Lane and United demonstrated plenty during a testing opening period.

Baxter, tucking in just behind Porter, combined well with Doyle and his fellow centre-forward in the 18th minute before just over-running a slide rule pass aimed towards White.

At the other end, Mooney should have done better after finding himself in space but dragged an angled drive across Long and wide of the far post.

White was close to connecting with Coady’s centre after the on-loan youngster, profiting from Omozusi’s slip in front of the corner flag, sent a cross hurtling into the Orient box.

Mooney wasted an even better opportunity in the 31st minute when Batt - again - powered through and found his fellow striker unmarked on the other side of the area but Long proved equal to the task.

Likewise when the former Peterborough and St Albans City marksman primed to shoot moments later.

United, working like Trojans to keep Orient at bay, saw Doyle receive a 59th minute caution for a foul on Vincelot.

James sent a free-kick sailing harmlessly into touch when Hill fouled Vincelot before Orient captain Clarke entered Deadman’s notebook after clipping Coady.

Baxter, who had earlier caused Jones some problems with a set-piece of his own, miscued after finding a pocket of space on the corner of the penalty area.

Nevertheless, the former Everton and Oldham Athletic midfielder’s influence had already begun to grow when he was involved in the move which saw United take a 67th minute lead. White appeared to take a ball full square in the face and, as he lay on the turf, Baxter found Porter who, rather than shoot himself, unselfishly squared a pass to COADY who swept clinically home.

A flurry of substitutions followed, Clough introducing Lappin at White’s expense. Maguire was booked as Orient attempted to rouse themselves. On 81 minutes Orient levelled. There appeared to be little danger when the ball fell to COX six yards outside Long’s area but a looping strike left the United goalkeeper with absolutely no chance.