Leyton Orient matched their Premier League opponents in their penultimate pre-season friendly, drawing 2-2 with QPR. Romain Vincelot met a Dean Cox cross to give the O’s the lead, but Junior Hoilett put the visitors back on level terms. At the start of the second half Joey Barton fired in a free-kick, however Cox found the net inside the last ten minutes to claim a draw.
Harry Redknapp named a strong starting lineup that included Steven Caulker, Joey Barton, Shaun Wright-Phillips and last season’s top goalscorer Charlie Austin. Russell Slade named a team that closely resembled last season’s regular line-up, but new signings Jobi McAnuff and Shane Lowry were not part of the squad.
The O’s were not overawed by the experienced QPR XI and they took the lead after just ten minutes. Dean Cox was given licence to roam as usual and he provided a superb cross from the right flank. Romain Vincelot had managed to time his run in between Caulker and Richard Dunne to perfection and he leapt above the defensive duo to nod the ball beyond Robert Green.
Orient had been looking comfortable on the ball and they proving to be more than a match for the Premier League newcomers. QPR were keen to use the pace of Hoilett, Wight-Phillips, Traore and Simpson down the flanks on the counter attack, but the O’s defence were able to make crucial interventions.
Ten minutes after conceding, a more considered passing move paid off for the visitors as it opened up space in the centre for Junior Hoilett to fire a low shot into the corner of Woods’s net from outside the box. Joey Barton then tried his luck from a similar range, but the ball took a deflection an looped wide.
Soon after, Scott Cuthbert was forced off the field due to a thigh injury. Shaun Batt was brought to play on the right wing, which meant Pritchard moved to right back. This switch worked well for the O’s as Batt was soon causing problems for the opposition while Pritchard proved to be adept at nicking the ball from the R’s wide men as well as producing some timely attacking runs.
Batt showed used his pace and skill to beat a couple of QPR players, then he showed persistence after losing the ball to dispossess Richard Dunne. The ball fell to Mooney who found Dean Cox in space on the left, the winger lined up a shot, but Green pushed the ball behind. The O’s were then able to recover a Cox corner, teeing up Lloyd James for a powerful drive from the edge of the box which forced a good save from Green.
At the other end Gary Woods was had to palm away a looping cross from Traore. It fell to Austin, but Nathan Clarke stood firm to block two shots in quick succession.
Orient deserved to be on level terms at the very least after a good performance in the first 45 minutes.
Russell Slade had to make one change at the break. Mathieu Baudry came off with a knock and he was replaced by trialist Ayo Okosun, with Romain Vincelot moving to partne Clarke at the heart of defence.
The hosts found themselves 2-1 down just two minutes into the second half. Okosun clumsily gave away a freekick and Barton accurately curled the ball over the wall and into the corner.
The away side were more dominate after the break, making Orient work harder to win the ball back. QPR almost extended their advantage when form Orient loanee Frankie Sutherland found Austin inside the area. The R’s striker checked back to create space for the shot, only for him to be denied by an impressive save from Woods. Soon after, Vincelot was needed to put in a last ditch tackle as the visitors enjoyed a good spell.
Orient had managed to keep themselves in the game and the introduction of Dagnall with twenty minutes remaining helped the O’s put some pressure on the Premier League side. After a wayward pass from Dunne surrendered possession Orient worked the ball to Dagnall who slipped the ball to Mooney, but the Irishman shot straight at Green.
Karl Henry came close to scoring a spectacular goal when he attempted to lob Woods from the halfway line, but the ball went over the crossbar.
The equaliser came with less than five minutes remaining. Dagnall cushioned a Lloyd James pass back to Cox on the edge of the area and the Orient winger shifted the ball onto his left foot before firing the ball beyond the reach of Green and into the bottom corner.
A draw against an experienced QPR side will be seen as a good result for the O’s who had been the better side for significant spells (particularly in the first half). There were also some neat passing moves, which resembled last season’s passages of play. The only concerns on the night were the injuries to Cuthbert and Baudry. Hopefully both players will be available again soon.
Orient will be back at Brisbane Road on Saturday as they host Ipswich Town in their final pre-season friendly.
QPR: Green, Simpson, Dunne, Caulker (Harriman, 62), Ehmer, Traore, Wright-Phillips, Barton, Henry, Hoilett (Sutherland, 62), Austin
Subs: Lumley, Doughty, Kpekawa, Comley