Date: 28th January 2006 at 8:37pm
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It is scarcely believable that a League Two side should come away from a Premier League ground feeling rather aggrieved for not winning the game, let alone holding out for a draw. Orient more than matched their hosts for 90 minutes and could only watch on in horror as Jay Bothroyd’s last gasp free kick took a nick off John Mackie and managed to deceive Glyn Garner. Perhaps it was the sight of Bothroyd’s celebrations, ripping his shirt from his chest, that will tell the real story. Charlton were through, but they knew that they had been lucky, very lucky indeed.

It was pretty hard to imagine Orient taking their hosts to the wire as Charlton took the lead after just seven minutes. A free kick from the Charlton right was swung in by Darren Ambrose and Jon Fortune headed home. Garner was left with no chance as the Addick’s centre back found himself completely unmarked and made no mistake.

Orient looked nervous and took a while to assert themselves. Charlton continued to dominate possession as the O’s front pair of Steele and Alexander failed to hold the ball up. Yet, despite Charlton’s possession they failed to create too many clear cut chances, though Shaun Bartlett should have done better with a free header from ten yards out.

Orient’s best chance came through a run and shot by Shane Tudor, but they were finding it difficult to make progress. Charlton continued to threaten with Darren Bent’s pace causing the Orient defence a few problems, however, the England man was well marshalled throughout by Zakuani. As the half wore on Orient looked more confident and they started to pass the ball in and around Charlton with such finesse that it made a mockery of their league status.

With five minutes to go until the break, Matt Lockwood lofted over a free kick from the Orient left, and Gary Alexander somehow managed to head wide when a header back across goal surely would have seen the O’s frontman score. Just seconds later and Orient had another opportunity to equalise as they put their Premiership opponents on the backfoot. This time Alexander sent a rasping volley inches over the bar before Orient’s best move of the half nearly brought them level.

Great play down the right hand side ensured Lee Steele beat the Addicks off side trap, and having got to the bye line, the striker pulled it back for Joe Keith who saw his effort clip the Charlton crossbar with the goalie beaten. Orient were now dominating their London rivals, and Alexander had another effort that sailed just wide.

With half time approaching it was the Premiership side that was most relieved to hear the whistle as the 5,800 travelling fans applauded their heroes from the pitch. Orient had looked the most likely to score with Charlton failing to cause the O’s defence too many problems. By all accounts, Glyn Garner had a very quiet first half and the O’s were unlucky not to be on level terms at the break.

The second half saw the O’s come out fighting and looking to resume where they had left off. In fact, the travelling fans did not have to wait long for the equaliser as on 53 minutes Joe Keith found Lee Steele inside the penalty area and his effort somehow squirmed under Charlton goalkeeper, Thomas Myhre. That goal sparked scenes of jubilation amongst the Orient faithful and it was no less than the O’s deserved.

After that there looked like there could only be one winner as Orient continued to press, but Alan Curbishley’s triple substitution on 65 swung the game for the hosts as Charlton upped the tempo. The introduction of Jerome Thomas gave Orient all sorts of problems and Justin Miller certainly didn’t relish the challenge. Thomas went on to test Garner with a rasping left foot drive which the O’s stopper did well to turn away.

Despite the injection of fresh legs, it was Orient that had a golden chance to clinch a famous victory. Joe Keith found himself with space and time on the left hand side and picked out the perfect cross for Daryl McMahon at the far post. The midfield man, who had an excellent afternoon, found himself all alone but headed straight at Thomas Myhre. From then on it was all Charlton pressure as the O’s tired quite visibly.

With the game into injury time it was left to Bothroyd’s free kick and the aid of a cruel deflection to send Charlton through and leave the O’s thinking of what might have been.

The final whistle saw the Orient players given a standing ovation from both sets of supporters as their valiant effort was warmly appreciated. If Orient can repeat the level of performance then it may not be too long until the two sides meet again.

Player Ratings

Glyn Garner 8
It was such a heartbreaking way to lose as the ball seemed to flick up over the O’s goalkeeper. He made several superb saves to keep the score at 1-1 but will have nightmares about the winner. Still, his penalty save at Fulham will live long in the memory.

Justin Miller 8
Had a good game until presented with the challenge of Jerome Thomas. Miller oozes class but was still all too guilty of giving the ball when a safer option was on. He really needed more help from Tudor in the last twenty minutes.

Matt Lockwood 8
Locky had another good game showing that he really is back to his best. He linked up quite beautifully with Joe Keith down the left handside and gave Charlton problems with his overlapping runs.

John Mackie 9
Another superb display from the Orient skipper as he threw himself at everything and refused to lie down and be beaten. The deflection of him for the goal was so very unfortunate. He comfortably dealt with Shaun Bartlett and looked assured all afternoon.

Gaby Zakuani 9
He made Darren Bent look so ordinary it was quite unbelievable. He has such great pace and ability, it is hard to imagine he’ll be wearing an Orient shirt for too much longer.

Michael Simpson 8
Simmo worked his socks off as always and helped to keep the O’s ticking over. He found it hard agains the quality of Charlton’s midfield but never looked out of his depth.

Shane Tudor 7
Tudor found it hard to impose himself on the game as he failed to get in behind Charlton’s defence as much as Orient would have hoped. He had one effort in the first half and switched the play beautifully at times, but Orient must have been hoping for more from the former Cambridge man.

Daryl McMahon 9
With Craig Easton still injured, this was Daryl McMahon’s big chance and he took it quite beautfully. Calm and assured on the ball, he displayed some quite breathtaking skill on the Orient left which saw Kishishev try and take him out with a dreadful tackle. McMahon passed the ball with great finesse although he too will have nightmares wondering how he didn’t head Orient to victory when he should have scored.

Joe Keith 9
It’s not a coincidence that Joe Keith’s best games for the O’s have been against Premiership opposition. With so much more space available and less of a physical aspect to the game, Keith is able to influence proceedings much more. He showed some great touches this afternoon and set up the goal for Steele. His cross for McMahon’s chance was nothing short of genius.

Lee Steele 8
Steelo found it tough in the opening stages but found his feet in the second half. His goal was just reward for the side and after that he seemed to be everywhere. His clever running and his experience were invaluable.

Gary Alexander 9
Gary had some great opportunities to score and on another day he may have taken them. He held the ball up well and proved a constant threat. Hopefully he’s saving the goals for Tuesday night at Bristol Rovers

Now For The Real Business

Manager Rating
Martin Ling will be justifiably proud of his players after their exploits in this year’s F.A. Cup. However, once again it was quite obvious that Orient were tiring,and Ling left it far too late to make changes. Justin Miller was hopelessly exposed against the pace of Jerome Thomas and Donny Barnard would have given more protection than Shane Tudor.

After the game, Ling praised his side but was also thinking of what might have been. ‘It’s heartbreaking – we gave everything we’ve got and then lose out in the last few seconds to a deflected free-kick’. Ling went on to add,’We’ve matched Fulham and Charlton in terms of passing the ball and creating chances and that’s very pleasing’. However, Ling conceded that the defeat leaves a bad taste in the mouth. ‘We had chances to win it, so we’re frustrated to say the least.’

Opponent Rating
Alan Curbishley will be the most relieved man in London this evening after seeing his side sneak through to the 5th Round of the F.A. Cup. Charlton were not too dissimilar to Fulham and at no time was it really visible that the O’s were out of their depth. However, Curbishley isn’t being touted for the England job for nothing and his triple substitution on 65 minutes swung the game in Charlton’s favour.

A Great Day Out
Although the heartbreak is all too painful, it was a fabulous day out for the travelling fans as they saw their side take Premier League opposition all the way to the final whistle. At last Orient has a team that it can be so very proud of, and on another day this is a game that perhaps they should have really won.

Easy To Forget
Having just watched Orient play two Premier League sides it really is easy to forget that Orient are a League Two outfit. It is so very disappointing to lose in the fashion in which they did, but to come away from such a fixture feeling cheated only indicates the increase in expectancy. Orient should never have stood a chance away at a Premiership side, yet they’ve beaten Fulham and should have had at least a draw at Charlton. It’s an unbelievable achievement for a club that sits 5th in League Two after today’s action.

Now For The Real Business
With the Cup now out of the way, Orient must make sure that they go to Bristol Rovers and try and take the points on offer. It is a crucial game as Orient need to make up both the games and points in an attempt to climb into the top three. Today was heartbreaking, but if Orient can clinch promotion come May, then all the suffering will be worthwhile. Bring On Bristol Rovers.