Town settle for a point after Marriott opener
The Town were held to their second successive 1-1 draw at Kenilworth Road as they were pegged back by Leyton Orient.
Jack Marriott’s seventh goal of the season put the Hatters ahead shortly after the half-hour.
But Orient levelled less than two minutes after the break when Jay Simpson turned home from close range.
The Hatters were indebted to a number of key saves from goalkeeper Mark Tyler but Marriott almost won it for the Town late on only for his shot to flash just past the post.
After Saturday’s defeat at Crawley, manager John Still made one change to the side, opting to bring in Paddy McCourt for Nathan Doyle, who dropped to the bench.
Marriott had his first chance of the night on 12 minutes when a fine Town move down the right saw McCourt’s flick-on send Craig Mackail-Smith away. His cross was perfect for strike-partner Marriott but his shot from close range was held by Orient keeper Alex Cisak.
Back came the visitors and on 16 minutes it should have been 1-0 Orient. A ball from the left found the on-rushing John Marquis but, with the goal gaping, the on-loan striker’s side-foot effort was saved brilliantly by the Town number one diving to his left.
And moments later Jack Payne shot wide from the edge of the box as Orient pushed for the lead.
Back came the Town however, and former Orient defender Scott Cuthbert came close to putting the Town ahead on 31 minutes when rising to plant a header from McCourt’s right-wing corner only to see his effort cleared off the line by Payne.
But a minute later the Hatters were in front. Dan Potts’ cross-cum-shot bobbled through the Orient defence. Marriott ghosted in, lurking at the back-post, though, and the striker was alert enough to the loose ball to guide a finish high into the net for his seventh goal of the season.
It was the Town’s first first-half goal at home since late August and the Hatters and Marriott almost got another on 36 minutes only for the goalscorer to rifle a shot inches wide of the post from the edge of the box.
Orient ended the first period on top though. Sensing a leveller, Tyler denied Mathieu Baudry on 40 minutes before holding onto a shot from Ollie Palmer that was straight at him 60 seconds later.
As the breathless first half continued to swing from end to end, Olly Lee shot wide for the Town before Cuthbert did brilliantly to scramble away two Orient set-pieces under pressure.
However, to the Hatters’ frustration, the O’s were level just two minutes into the second half. Sean Clohessy crossed low from the right and Simpson was quickest to the pass in the six-yard box to get ahead of the Town defence and poke home his 11th goal of the campaign.
Back on level terms the visitors upped the ante in search of the lead but failed to test Tyler despite their dominance.
Marriott headed straight at Cisak on 55 minutes before the Town made two changes in the space of four minutes, introducing Nathan Doyle, for Lee, and Luke Guttridge, for McCourt.
The Hatters attempted to seize control in the final quarter. Cameron McGeehan’s curling shot from 22 yards was creeping into the bottom corner under Cisak’s save on 69 minutes.
Back came the O’s, however, and Tyler needed to stand tall with 11 minutes left on the clock when blocking a goal-bound shot from Sammy Moore.
You felt there was one last chance for the Town as time ticked away, and there was one with six minutes left when Guttridge’s clever pass released Marriott through on goal. However the striker clipped his shot just past the post.
That was the last chance for either side as both sides settled for a point.
The Town are back again at Kenilworth Road when leaders Plymouth come to town. BE THERE.
Town: Tyler; Long, Potts, Cuthbert, Wilkinson; Lee (sub Doyle 57), Smith, McCourt (sub Guttridge 64), McGeehan, Marriott, Mackail-Smith (sub McQuoid 76).
Subs not used: Lawless, Justham, O’Brien, Ruddock.
Attendance: 8,022, including 638 from Orient.