Leyton Orient’s character again shone through as they came from behind with 10 men to maintain their unbeaten record with a 1-1 draw at Gateshead.

The O’s fell behind in the 77th minute when Luke Armstrong scored and their prospects of returning to E10 with any reward from the long trip to the north-east were dealt a further blow four minutes later when James Alabi was sent off for a poor challenge on Robbie Tinkler.

But Justin Edinburgh’s men kept battling and in the last minute of normal time Marvin Ekpiteta was in the right place to fire home the rebound after Joe Widdowson’s goal-bound header from a Jobi McAnuff corner had been blocked.

The O’s boss named an unchanged starting XI but was able to include Matt Harrold and Dale Gorman on the bench for the first time this season.

It took a superb save from Dean Brill to prevent Tinkler from giving the home side the lead with a header from a sixth-minute corner, but four minutes later Macauley Bonne saw a deflected shot tipped over.

Orient twice went close to breaking the deadlock midway through the first half when Craig Clay fired over after Bonne had dummied a McAnuff cross, before a Bonne strike was deflected into the keeper’s arms after Ekpiteta had flicked on a long throw.

Clay then went even closer when a twisting run from the midfielder ended with a shot being cleared off the line by Jon Mellish, but the game remained scoreless at the break.

After Ekpiteta had shot wide and Josh Koroma had fired into Aynsley Pears’ arms, it was Gateshead’s turn to go close when Brill produced another great save to keep out a Steven Rigg header.

Gorman came on for his debut in place of Charlie Lee in the 62nd minute and Edinburgh also introduced Alabi for James Dayton soon after.

Bonne saw a shot deflected wide and McAnuff fired over before the home side were to make a chance count, only for their hopes of victory to be dashed by Ekpiteta.

The draw means the O’s stay ninth in the National League table ahead of Monday’s home date with Dover Athletic.

Leyton Orient: Brill; Judd (Harrold 85), Coulson, Ekpiteta, Widdowson; Dayton (Alabi 67), Lee (Gorman 62), Clay, McAnuff; Koroma, Bonne. Not used: Sargeant, Happe.