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Report: Bristol City 2-2 Leyton Orient

City twice fought back from behind to claim a point at home to Sky Bet League One leaders Leyton Orient.

A promising start from the hosts was not rewarded as Orient hotshot David Mooney opened the scoring  midway through the first half with a clinical finish.

But a pulsating second half saw City skipper Sam Baldock equalise before Elliott Parish fumbled a weak shot to allow Dean Cox the simplest task of restoring the visitors’ lead.

However, City – and Baldock – still were not finished, as the striker weaved his way into the danger zone and ultimately saw his shot turned over his own goal line by Scott Cuthbert.

Sean O’Driscoll made two changes to his side beaten for the first time in six matches at the weekend, as Derrick Williams and Simon Gillett were handed recalls.

This meant a change in system, with O’Driscoll employing wing backs – Brendan Moloney on the right and Greg Cunningham on the left, with Nicky Shorey and Marvin Elliott dropping to the bench.

Orient looked appropriately confident from kick-off, stroking the ball around and threatening to find openings deep inside City territory.

But having survived a couple of minor early scares, the home team took the game to the table toppers. Gillett saw a powerful shot deflect just past the post before the resulting corner was taken short to Jay Emmanuel-Thomas, who drilled a low ball across goal which somehow eluded everybody inside a crowded six-yard box.

Five minutes later Emmanuel-Thomas led a promising counter-attack, electing to feed the onrushing Scott Wagstaff. With the ball running away from his body and away from goal, the midfielder impressively dug out a shot which forced Orient keeper Jamie Jones into an excellent diving save.

But it was City who were indebted to their goalkeeper shortly after as the O’s prolific front two combined for the first time.

Mooney’s cross from the right was met with a firm header by Kevin Lisbie, only for Elliott Parish to keep the former Charlton Athletic man at bay with an athletic tip over.

It would prove no more than a temporary reprieve, however, as the same pair combined to score their 27th goal of a remarkable season to date.

When Lisbie’s shot was blocked at close quarters, Mooney had little time to react as the ball rolled his way, but still had the confidence to unleash a perfectly placed shot with hardly any backlift which nestled into the corner of the net from 20 yards.

It was harsh on City, who were enjoying plenty of the play, but just underlined the obvious potency of Orient’s deadly duo. It was Mooney’s 15th of the campaign.

The Robins, undeterred by falling behind, responded through a long-range Marlon Pack free kick which bounced awkwardly in front of Jones who had to shovel the ball behind for a corner.

And it was from another set-piece that City had their visitors worried again five minutes before the interval.

This time Baldock took the kick, instigating a clever routine in which his low pass into the feet of Emmanuel-Thomas was laid back first time for Gillett, who stepped on to it with a low drive which just skimmed a couple of yards wide.

It went without saying that City needed the next goal to stay competitive in the game.

It is almost as obvious to state Emmanuel-Thomas looked the most likely to provide it, as a crisp 25-yarder tested Jones’ handling early in the second half.

But it was his strike partner who found the net with his eighth of the season to haul City level when a Wagstaff corner was won in the air by Aden Flint before Baldock spun to force the ball home from close range.

Suddenly there was a different atmosphere swirling around a previously subdued Ashton Gate, and Pack nearly brought to natives to their feet again with a spectacular attempt – plucking a high ball out of the air before executing a difficult half-volley with the outside of his right foot which just whistled wide of the post.

City tails were up, only for an uncharacteristic Parish error to gift Orient the lead again.

When Moses Odubajo latched on to a bouncing ball with only the keeper to beat, Parish could have been forgiven for expecting a tougher task than the tame shot that followed.

However, the City stopper contrived to take his eye off the rolling ball, which slipped from his grasp as time stood still. Unfortunately for the vast majority inside Ashton Gate, Cox did not, and equalised from a yard.

But City were still not finished. Baldock’s perseverance saw him reach a ball that looked to be running out of play, before he beat two covering defenders to open up a shooting chance.

With Jones virtually on top of him, the striker had nowhere to go as his effort cannoned against the keeper and struck the unfortunate Cuthbert before dribbling over the line.

It was end to end stuff and City were not content to settle for a point most would have considered a successful result in the wake of Saturday’s home loss at the hands of Sheffield United.

Flint saw his name in lights when he connected with an acrobatic volley 12 minutes from time, leaving Jones relieved as his shot beat the keeper’s dive and his left-hand post.

In the end it was Orient pushing harder for maximum points, but City hung on to prevent back-to-back home defeats and knock the Londoners off top spot.