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Leyton Orient 3 Gillingham 3 – match report

Cody McDonald. Picture: Barry Goodwin
Cody McDonald. Picture: Barry Goodwin

Gillingham had to make do with a point from a thriller against Leyton Orient.

Goals from Jermaine McGlashan and Cody McDonald cancelled out Lloyd James’ spot-kick , putting the Gills 2-1 up at the break, against relegation threatened Orient.

McDonald scored from the penalty spot to extend the lead but Darius Henderson and Josh Wright both struck against their former club to level the match at 3-3.

Gillingham went into Easter Monday’s game with a record of just one win in six, but their away form was impressive. They played their part in exciting game at the Matchroom Stadium.

Boss Justin Edinburgh had tasted just one away defeat from the six he had taken charge of, prior to their visit to Leyton Orient.

Leon Legge came into the Gills starting XI for the first time under Edinburgh, while Cody McDonald was restored to the team, partnering Luke Norris upfront.

John Egan was moved to right back in a 4-3-1-2 formation.

The game started at a frantic pace, with chances at either end. McGlashan and Bradley Dack both came close for the Gills, while Glenn Morris did well to tip Dean Cox’s effort over.

With half an hour gone the hosts got their noses infront from the penalty spot. Max Ehmer was the culprit, after tripping Ryan Hedges in the box, as he attempted to get back to his feet following a slip. Lloyd James smashed home past Morris.

The Gills refused to buckle, despite conceding, and it was they who bossed the remaining 15 minutes, scoring twice to turn the match on its head.

McGlashan’s equaliser came in the 36 minute, turning the ball home from close-range after a good pass from Norris following Jake Hessenthaler’s corner.

Norris, starting his fourth consecutive game, had played a key role in helping the Gills win the crucial corner. His angled ball picked out Amar’i Bell in a good position and from that attacking move the hosts were forced to concede the set-piece.

It got even better for the Gills seven minutes later when Dack crossed the ball in for McDonald, unmarked, and he stopped down low to head home past keeper Alex Cisak for his 17 goal of the season.

It took a great save from the Australian keeper to deny Norris from scoring Gills’ third before the break, as Orient’s defence began to crumble. The half-time whistle would have been a relief to the east London side.

Gillingham made a good start to the second half, with Norris going close as Orient defended frantically to clear the ball. Dack also went close, firing over after leaving a defender on the floor with a good turn inside the box.

It was 3-1 Gillingham after 56 minutes. Norris was fouled by Shane Lowry in the area and McDonald stepped up to drive the ball down the middle and extend the lead.

With 67 minutes gone substitute Darius Henderson fired home, scoring at the second attempt after Morris had saved his first effort.

Dack went close for Gills, clipping the outside of the far post from a curling effort. Norris deserved a goal and he came close, forcing Cisak into a save with his legs with 10 minutes left.

Inbetween those efforts both Henderson and Chris Dagnall came close to equalising for the home side.

Home keeper Cisak made great blocks from Norris and McDonald while Jobi McAnuff fired wide just moments before Orient scored their equaliser.

It was another former Gills player with the goal as Wright – a play-off winner at Wembley under Mark Stimson in 2009 - curled the ball in past Morris with five minutes left.

Gillingham: G Morris, Egan, Bell, Loft, Legge (Hoyte 79mins), Ehmer, McGlashan, Hessenthaler (A Morris 82mins), McDonald, Dack, Norris. Subs not used: Nelson, Marquis, Muldoon, Dickenson, Freiter.

Orient: Cisak, Dossena, Lowry, Baudry, Cuthbert, Hedges (McAnuff 60mins), Wright (Clarke 89mins), James, Cox, Mooney (Henderson 55mins), Dagnall. Subs not used: O'Neill, Simpson, Woods, Taylor

Attendance: 6,394 (1,191 away)

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