Leyton Orient could not mark Russell Slade’s fourth anniversary as O’s boss with a win, extending their winless run to five games at Sheffield United.

Orient took the lead four minutes before the break through Dean Cox - notching his 13th of the season - but were pegged back 18 minutes into the second half when Jamie Murphy raced through.

Slade dropped 16-goal top scorer David Mooney to the bench with Lloyd James coming into a five-man midfield for Orient. Kevin Lisbie started up front on his own.

The only other change saw Elliot Omozusi replace Gary Sawyer at left back.

Sheffield United started the quicker of the two, Ryan Flynn dragging a shot comfortably wide after eight minutes.

The winger saw a better chance go to waste not long after, heading a Kieron Freeman cross into the palms of Jamie Jones at the back post.

Orient’s best move of the opening 20 minutes came when Cox drove from left to right and picked out Moses Odubajo, who in turn saw his blocked cross won back by the Lisbie and laid back into his path to drill wide.

Sheffield United felt they should have been awarded a penalty just after the half-hour mark for a Scott Cuthbert challenge on Conor Coady, but referee Michael Jones was uninterested.

United’s best chance in a scrappy first half fell to buccaneering full-back John Brayford. Picked out down the right, the Cardiff City loanee found himself in space behind Omozusi and sent a wicked ball across the face of goal which Jones pushed out to safety.

Four minutes before the break, Orient opened the scoring after finally getting the Blades on the back foot for the first time.

An optimistic John Lundstram shot from distance broke to Odubajo, who cleverly picked out the unmarked Cox six yards out. Cox hooked the ball over the United defender and coolly slotted past Howard with minimal fuss to hand Orient the lead.

Sheffield United began the second period the brighter of the two sides, Brayford crashing a volley back towards goal, only for Omozusi to block bravely.

Slade’s side immediately broke with a long ball finding Lisbie on the charge, but the veteran forward was unable to progress due to a lack of support.

United continued to grow into the game, twice failing to punish Mathieu Baudry for lapses in concentration.

In the 63rd minute, Sheffield United’s pressure told when the lively Murphy scampered onto a defence-splitting pass which Baudry had failed to cut out. The former Motherwell man rounded the onrushing Jones with ease, slipping the ball into the empty net to level.

The Blades continued to cause Orient problems, Jones punching a Coady effort from distance over the bar shortly after.

Baudry came close to making amends for his earlier mistake in the 72nd minute, testing Mark Howard with a near-post header from a Jamie Ness corner.

Brayford ought to have put the hosts ahead in the 77th minute when he headed substitute Ben Davies’ free kick wide when well placed.

Davies tried his luck three minutes later, driving a powerful free-kick into the hands of Jones from 25 yards.

Lisbie could have won the contest late on, showing an impressive first touch to bring a long ball down only to see his shot blocked and fall into the path of Odubajo, who lashed over.

Orient survived another late penalty shout for a challenge on Flynn, before centre-back Harry Maguire carried the ball an alarming distance only for the eventual cross to go to waste.

Sheffield United: Howard; Brayford, Maguire, Collins, Freeman (Harris 77); Flynn, McGinn (Scougall 62), Doyle (c), Coady, Murphy; Porter (Davies 58).

Subs not used: Long (GK), Hill, Paynter & Dimaio.

Leyton Orient: Jones; Cuthbert, Baudry, Clarke (c), Omozusi; Odubajo, Lundstram, James (Batt 83), Ness, Cox (Mooney 70); Lisbie.

Subs not used: Larkins (GK), Sawyer, Gorman, Dagnall & Simpson.

Attendance: 16 809 (677 Leyton Orient).

Referee: Mr M Jones.