Ten-man Leyton Orient dug in to grind out a 0-0 draw with Hartlepool United in a feisty affair at the Breyer Group Stadium.

The O’s had Joe Widdowson sent off five minutes after half-time as he clattered into Michael Woods following a heavy touch and referee Adrian Quelch took his time before producing the red-card.

But if anything, Orient were in the ascendancy after Widdowson’s dismissal, with James Alabi firing straight at Scott Loach and then James Brophy had the chance of the game when he went through one-on-one, but he could only screw his effort wide.

Loach then had to be at his best to deny Marvin Ekpiteta’s header and in a frantic final few minutes, both teams traded chances as they both looked for the win.

In the end though, the O’s had to settle for a point despite a spirited second half display in front of over 6500 fans at Brisbane Road.

Head coach Justin Edinburgh made one change to the side which beat Maidenhead United last week, with the fit again Brophy replacing Charlie Lee, who was rested. That meant Jobi McAnuff moved into centre midfield to partner Craig Clay, while on the bench there was a welcome return for Josh Koroma, who missed last week’s trip to Berkshire with a knee injury.

Elsewhere, Alex Lawless returned to the match-day squad in place of Dale Gorman, who is away on international duty with Northern Ireland’s Under-21s.

Meanwhile, Hartlepool manager Matthew Bates named an unchanged side following their 2-0 win over Boreham Wood last weekend.

The O’s enjoyed a lot of possession in the early stages as they tried to find an early breakthrough in front of a packed Brisbane Road but it was Hartlepool who carved out the first opening, with Niko Muir picking the ball up in space 25-yards out, but his effort from distance went comfortably over.

Orient responded with a similar chance of their own on the fifteen minute mark, as James Dayton received the ball in space and with few options in front of him, he had a crack at goal from 25-yards which whistled over former Watford goalkeeper Loach’s crossbar.

Dayton worked a similar opportunity for himself five minutes later as a long spell of possession which involved Brophy, Clay and Widdowson, saw the wide-man receive the ball just outside the penalty area. He then worked the ball onto his right before trying to find the top corner with a curling effort, but his attempt went over.

Another opportunity for the O’s came seconds later as Widdowson, who was enjoying a lot of freedom down the left, picked out Brophy, whose pass found Bonne, but the Orient talisman snatched at his effort, which went comfortably wide of the target.

Hartlepool’s Peter Kioso was the first man to enter the referee’s book for a challenge on Brophy on the 25 minute mark. Adrian Quelch did try to play advantage with Clay bringing the ball forward, but the chance came to nothing.

Quelch was at the centre of attention again moments later when he failed to award Orient an indirect free-kick in the penalty area after Loach had claimed a back pass from Ryan Donaldson.

The O’s didn’t let that affect them, though, and they almost took the lead with ten minutes of the first half remaining. Brophy burst past his man down the left and his cut-back was picked up by Clay on the edge of the area, whose curling effort went inches over.

Edinburgh’s men carved out another opportunity and it was Dayton who had a pop from distance once again. The former Cheltenham Town man received the ball in acres of space on countless occasions in the first half and he was allowed time to pick up his head and arrow an effort which cleared the bar with the aid of a deflection.

One minute of added time was signalled by the fourth official and the O’s carved out another half chance with the last kick of the first half, as McAnuff floated in a free-kick which was knocked down by Ekpiteta for Clay to strike first time on the edge of the area, but he got his timing all wrong, meaning his scuffed effort went harmlessly wide.

The East London side started the second half like a train and they would have taken the lead barely a minute after the restart if someone had been on hand to tap home Brophy’s cross at the far post.

Clay, once again, won back possession for the O’s in the centre circle and he passed to Bonne, who turned and played in Brophy down the left. Brophy got the better of Kioso and his cross agonisingly went across the face of goal for Hartlepool to clear.

Myles Judd was then the next to enter the referee’s book, but Orient’s afternoon was to take a sudden turn for the worse, as they were reduced to ten men.

Widdowson received the ball out on the left but his touch was heavy and he clattered into Woods with his studs showing. Referee Quelch took time to make his decision with both players down to receive treatment, before producing a red card for the Orient left-back.

From the resultant free-kick, Muir’s lay off was seized upon by captain Andrew Davies, who took a touch before trying to find the bottom corner, but a number of Orient players threw themselves in front of the effort to send the ball out for a corner, which was cleared.

The temperature had certainly gone up a notch inside Brisbane Road following that dismissal, with McAnuff as well as Hartlepool’s Woods and Nicky Featherstone all entering the referee’s book.

Featherstone was cautioned for bringing down Ekpiteta around 25-yards out from goal and O’s skipper McAnuff curled his free-kick a fraction wide of the top corner.

Minutes later and Loach was forced into his first save of the afternoon. Clay, who had won possession back on numerous occasions for Orient, intercepted the ball once again before finding Bonne, whose pass released Alabi, but the O’s striker could only shoot straight at Loach after turning his man.

Seconds later and Orient had an even better opportunity, as it was Clay who threaded the ball into Brophy, but the wide-man lacked composure and screwed his effort wide of the post when one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

That would be Brophy’s last involvement, as he was replaced by Koroma with 20 minutes remaining. Sam Ling also came on for his first appearance since August, as he replaced Judd, who was carrying a booking.

Despite playing with 10 men, Orient were in the ascendency and Loach made an excellent save to tip over Ekpiteta’s towering header with 15 minutes remaining.

Edinburgh made his final change with ten minutes to go and threw caution to the wind, bringing on Matt Harrold for Dayton after Koroma had won a corner. From the resultant set-piece, Alabi got across his man to flick McAnuff’s set-piece wide.

Hartlepool’s Bates responded to that chance by making his first two substitutions, with Josh Hawkes and Marcus Dinanga replacing Woods and Luke James.

Koroma was the next to try his luck, cutting in from the left before unleashing a rising effort from 30 yards which cleared the crossbar.

Six minutes of added time were signalled by the fourth official and Brill was called upon for the first time when he got down well to deal with substitute Dinanga’s powerful strike from distance.

Hartlepool kept the ball alive following that effort and the Pools’ final substitute Connor Newton, who replaced Liam Noble with three minutes remaining, worked the ball onto his left and he was a whisker away from nicking a late winner as his effort struck the outside of the post.

Down the other end, Koroma almost snatched the three points when he fired wide with the aid of a deflection and despite throwing the kitchen sink at Hartlepool, they just couldn’t find a way through in the dying minutes.

Leyton Orient: Brill (GK), Judd (Ling, 70), Ekpiteta, Coulson, Widdowson, Dayton (Harrold, 80) McAnuff ©, Clay, Brophy (Koroma, 70), Bonne, Alabi.

Subs (Not used): Sargeant (GK), Lawless.

Bookings: Judd (49), McAnuff (64).

Sent off: Widdowson (52).

Hartlepool United: Loach (GK), Donaldson, Kioso, Davies ©, Magnay, Kitching, Featherstone, Noble (Newton, 87), Woods (Hawkes, 81), Muir, James (Dinaga, 82).

Subs (Not used): Richardson, Hawkins.

Bookings: Kioso (25), Woods (60), Featherstone (66), Davies (75) .

Referee: Adrian Quelch.

Attendance: 6,877 (594 Hartlepool fans)