Leyton Orient and Port Vale’s search for a first win in 2022 goes on after the pair played out a stale goalless draw at the Breyer Group Stadium this afternoon.
It was a game bereft of any clear chances – perhaps a product of Orient’s 35-day wait for a league match and the fact that this was the away side’s third in seven days.
The point halts both sides losing runs – three games for the hosts and four for Vale – but the point does little for either team’s promotion hopes.
Due to injury and suspension, Darrell Clarke was only able to name five players, and no backup goalkeeper, on the bench and things went from bad to worse early on as James Gibbons appeared to pick up a hamstring injury inside the first 10 minutes and was replaced by Lewis Cass.
Orient’s rustiness showed in the opening exchanges but the Breyer Group Stadium was brought to life after 15 minutes by Aaron Drinan, who picked the ball up and drove through the visitors’ midfield before hammering an effort just over the top.
A few minutes later, Paul Smyth fired a close-range volley into the side netting as Jackett’s side began to exert some pressure on Aidan Stone’s goal.
Vale – without Tom Conlon due to an Achilles injury – began to grow into the game after struggling for fluency early on, though their only ventures into the Orient penalty area in the first half-hour were courtesy of set pieces.
Seven minutes before the break, referee Declan Bourne was given a decision to make when Smyth was blocked off chasing a pass back to the keeper. The diminutive attacker was sent sprawling but the home support’s pleads for a penalty did not bring the desired result.
Smyth’s influence was growing, however, and the Northern Irishman curled a free-kick inches over the bar in the dying moments of the first half.
Theo Archibald has so often been Orient’s architect this term and his absence became more and more telling as the match wore on, with the home side struggling to break down their opponents or create any chances of note.
Jackett looked to change things up on the hour-mark, bringing on January arrival Otis Khan and Dan Kemp, but Drinan continued to look the most likely candidate to produce something.
A searching ball from Vale skipper Tom Pett nearly unlocked the Orient defence as we neared the final 20 minutes but David Amoo’s effort zipped right across the face of goal without ever troubling Lawrence Vigouroux.
In Leeds United’s Ryan Edmondson and Huddersfield Town’s Kian Harratt, Clarke had some exciting loanees on the bench and both were introduced in the 70th minute but neither were able to make much of an impact.
With 11 minutes left of normal time, an ugly challenge from Brad Walker nearly caused things to bubble over as a shoving match broke out between the two sides – Walker booked for his initial tackle and Omar Beckles for the fallout.
That proved the most exciting moment of an attritional second half in which the two solid defences, and Orient’s tireless captain Darren Pratley, came away with the most credit.
FULL TIME: LEYTON ORIENT 0-0 PORT VALE