Leyton Orient concede in injury time to draw 1-1 at Bradford City in League One

East London and West Essex Guardian Series: Lloyd James put Leyton Orient ahead at the end of the first half. Picture: Action Images Lloyd James put Leyton Orient ahead at the end of the first half. Picture: Action Images

An injury-time free-kick from Nahki Wells denied Leyton Orient an impressive win and the chance to extend their lead at the top of League One to three points as Bradford City salvaged a dramatic 1-1 draw at Valley Parade.

The O’s were never at their fluent best in this contest but Lloyd James’ brilliant curling shot at the end of the first-half looked to have given the visitors another valuable victory in the hunt for promotion.

However, with four minutes of injury time left to play, Wells bent a brilliant free-kick from the edge of the box into the top left-hand corner to earn Bradford a late – and in truth deserved - point.

With fellow title contenders Wolverhampton Wanderers suffering a surprise defeat at home to MK Dons, Orient are one point better off at the top than they were at the start of the day but it could have been even better for Russell Slade's side.

Slade returned to the dugout after missing Orient’s win FA Cup win over Walsall with illness.

The O’s boss handed a first start to Robbie Simpson up front and with David Mooney suspended and Kevin Lisbie only fit enough to make the bench, he started alongside Shaun Batt.

Scott Cuthbert came back into the starting line-up after also suffering from a virus last week and there was a recall for captain Nathan Clarke who had recovered from a groin strain.

Bradford were faster out of the blocks and put the visitors under pressure in the opening quarter of an hour.

For all their good intentions however, the home side failed to open Orient up and were only roused by three penalty appeals – two for handballs against James and Romain Vincelot, one for Clarke leaning on Wells – but all three looked optimistic and were turned down.

Simpson managed to manoeuvre a bicycle kick at the back post after James’ corner but his acrobatic effort flew over the bar before James Hanson headed wide for Bradford from close range.

After a slow start, Orient were gradually coming into the match. Just after the quarter-hour mark, the ball fell to Dean Cox just inside the area but the winger couldn’t keep his half volley down and moments later Moses Odubajo cut in dangerously from the right but his left-footed shot was deflected behind for a corner.

With 29 minutes gone, Bradford’s Kyel Reid unleashed a stinging effort from the edge of the box but O's keeper Jamie Jones was perfectly placed to push the shot behind.

The hosts started to assert themselves again and in the 32nd minute Reid made a superb run from midfield, driving past three Orient defenders before Elliot Omozusi cleared the winger out with a reckless challenge on the edge of the box.

Omozusi was lucky to escape with just a booking before Wells’ effort from the set-piece harmlessy hit the wall.

Bradford continued to look the better team before the interval but in first-half injury time it was the O’s who broke the deadlock as James picked the ball up on the left side of the area before curling a superb shot into the far top right-hand corner to give the visitors a 1-0 advantage at half-time.

The hosts started the second period brightly but Clarke and the excellent Mathieu Baudry looked assured at the heart of the O’s defence.

It wasn’t until the 56th minute that Bradford troubled Orient’s rearguard action as hesitation between Clarke and Jones allowed Wells to nip in and as his shot was blocked, the ball fell to Nathan Doyle inside the area but the shot was blocked.

Just after the hour mark, the visitors almost doubled their lead on the counter-attack. James’ whipped ball across goal evaded all the Bradford defenders but Batt too was unable to connect reach the ball from six yards out.

Bradford started to crank up the pressure and in the 69th minute a long throw into the O’s area caused havoc as Jones came out to clear but James Hanson headed down for Doyle to drive towards goal but the effort was headed off the line.

With the hosts pushing committing more men forward, the game started to open up and Orient looked increasingly dangerous on the break.

Slade replaced Simpson with Lisbie presumably to try and establish more possession in the opposition’s half but the Bantams continued to press forward in search of an equaliser.

With ten minutes to play, Bradford substitute Mark Yeates tested Jones with a well-taken free-kick round the wall but the O’s keeper held on.

There was still time for one more chance however as the home side won another free-kick right on the edge of the Orient area in injury time.

Wells, who had missed from a similar position earlier in the match, stepped up and this time bent his shot brilliantly over the wall and into the top left-hand corner, giving Jones no chance.

It was to be the last chance of a compelling contest and Orient will be looking to get back to winning ways when they host Crawley Town next Saturday.

Bradford City: McLaughlin, Darby, Meredith, Reid, Hanson, Thompson (Yeates, 65), Jones, Wells, Bates (Connell, 80), McArdle, Doyle (De Vita, 80)

Subs: Ripley, Kennedy, Yeates, McHugh, Connell, De Vita, McBurnie

Leyton Orient: Jones, Omozusi, Vincelot, Cuthbert, Baudry, Cox, James, Odubajo, Batt (Bartley, 84), Clarke, Simpson (Lisbie, 73).

Subs: Larkins, Sawyer, Lisbie, Lasimant, Gorman, Bartley, Wright

Attendance: 14, 292 (374 Leyton Orient)

Referee: Mark Heywood

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