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Robin Cottle at Deepdale
Saturday, February 15, 2014
League One: Preston North End 1 Leyton Orient 1
Mathieu Baudry went from hero to villain as Orient had to settle for a point at promotion rivals Preston.
On an emotionally-charged afternoon a day after the death of Preston legend Sir Tom Finney, Baudry latched onto Kevin Lisbie’s knockdown before firing past Declan Rudd from close range.
But he conceded a penalty midway through the second half for a foul on Craig Davies and Joe Garner dispatched the spot kick with ease.
In a tight match returning loan goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic, who has conceded two goals in five appearances for the O’s, made some vital saves from Craig Davies and Neil Kilkenny to ensure the east Londoners halted a run of three consecutive defeats.
The Lilywhites celebrated the life of Finney with a minute’s silence prior to kick-off, impeccably observed, and fans left scores of tributes outside the ground. All the players wore black armbands as a mark of respect and the Preston players all had the name Finney on the back of their shirts.
Orient manager Russell Slade sprung a surprise by naming Shaun Batt on the bench, the first time he has been involved since tearing his hamstring at Gillingham on Boxing Day.
There were three changes to the starting line up as Jakupovic replaced Shwan Jalal in goal with David Mooney and Lloyd James coming in for Chris Dagnall and Marvin Bartley respectively, who dropped to the bench.
It was the first time Mooney and Lisbie had started a game together since November 23.
Slade asked for a reaction following Tuesday’s disappointing defeat to Bristol City – and he certainly got it as the O’s put in a much improved performance against a strong North End side.
Baudry could have given the visitors an early lead but volleyed straight at Rudd after a dangerous Lloyd James free-kick found him unmarked.
Scott Cuthbert headed the resultant corner wide but after a promising start, the hosts started to get on top.
Garner, who scored the only goal of the game when the sides met at Brisbane Road in November, volleyed Paul Gallagher’s corner over before Davies was denied by a Baudry last-ditch tackle and a Jakupovic save respectively.
Kilkenny saw his long range shot tipped wide by the Bosnian goalkeeper but Orient hit Preston with the ultimate sucker punch two minutes before half-time.
Gary Sawyer’s free-kick was knocked down by Lisbie and Baudry ghosted into the penalty area unmarked to finish confidently.
Preston put pressure on the visitors defence after the break but Orient held firm, and could have doubled their lead when Mooney latched onto Baudry’s through ball, the Irishman firing over the bar from a tight angle.
And the visitors were made to pay when the French defender was adjudged to have hauled down Davies in the penalty area.
There was still a chance for the O’s to win it as substitute Dagnall saw his shot smothered by Rudd before Romain Vincelot was convinced his follow up was stopped by the goalkeeper’s hands outside the area.
But the referee waved away his protests and Orient had to settle for a point, although former England striker Kevin Davies missed a good chance when he flicked a header wide late on.
With both Brentford and Wolves winning, the gap to the top two is now three points, and the O’s have played a game more.
Orient: Jakupovic; Cuthbert, Baudry, Clarke, Sawyer; Odubajo (Batt 81), James, Vincelot, Cox; Mooney, Lisbie (Dagnall 69). Substitutes not used: Larkins, Lasimant, Bartley, Simpson, Ness.