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Match Reports

📝 Match Report: Leyton Orient 2 Exeter City 2

Our write up as City fight back to extend the unbeaten run!

9 April 2024

Match Reports

📝 Match Report: Leyton Orient 2 Exeter City 2

Our write up as City fight back to extend the unbeaten run!

9 April 2024

Exeter City put on a late, late show to come back from two goals down to pick up a well deserved point away at Leyton Orient in a 2-2 draw.

A trip to East London saw Exeter City face Leyton Orient on a night in which a win would mathematically confirm the Grecians’ spot in League One next season. City’s opposition, the O’s still had an outside chance at claiming a place in the play-offs but would need a win this evening to stay in contention. There was a lot to play for. 


Manager Gary Caldwell named four changes from the side that beat Stevenage three days prior as Zak Jules, Ilmari Niskanen, Jack Aitchison, and Jake Richards all came into the starting XI. This match was Richards’ second league start, and his first start since the reverse fixture in September, although he did come on as a second-half subs in Saturday’s win. 

City’s first shot of the game came from the left-boot of Niskanen as he struck an effort toward the near-post, blocked by an O’s defender and out for a corner. The resulting corner was unfruitful, despite Dion Rankine putting his defender 'on skates' with his trickery on the ball. 

The Grecians strong start to the game continued as Richards impressed in the midfield with his desire to win the ball. Leyton Orient’s number ten, Ruel Sotiriou was subbed off inside 15 minutes as he took a knock. 

Tom Carroll had a chance of the edge of the box, teed up by Aitchison, which he hit first time with the outside of his boot. A cheeky effort, but it did not fool the keeper, Sol Brynn. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but it was a clear sign that the Grecians were playing with supreme confidence as they looked to extend their unbeaten streak. 

Niskanen appeared to be through on goal; however, he was stopped by the assistant’s flag for offside. Worth noting because it came off the back of some fantastic interplay between Aitchison and Reece Cole. 

Richards had the ball against the wrong side of the side-netting as Rankine slid the ball across the six-yard box and Richards side-footed the ball just wide of the target. Then, at the other end, Leyton Orient scored against the run of play. O'Neill stood over the ball at the corner flag as City setup to defend a routine corner. O’Neill’s corner was then fizzed into the box, over all of the defenders and nestled into the far corner, bemusing all in the ground. 

Shortly after this, Caldwell was forced into his first substitution of the evening as Millenic Alli replaced the injured Aitchison.  

City didn’t create many chances between Leyton Orient’s goal and the half-time whistle, which followed seven minutes of added time. It was just the freak goal that separated the sides at the break as City went in one behind.  

Caldwell made his second substitution over the half-time break as Luke Harris replaced Richards, who had been superb in the first half.  

A quiet start to the second half meant that City’s first real chance only came as they were looking to make their third and fourth substitutions. O’s fans winced when their defender’s cleared header looked goal bound but went just wide for a City corner. 

Vincent Harper and Yanic Wildschut stood on the sideline ready to come on, although they would have to wait a little longer as Leyton Orient doubled their lead. Tom Carroll’s misplaced pass was intercepted by O’Neill who played a simple pass to Moncur on the edge of the box who calmly side-footed the ball beyond Vil Sinisalo, doubling his side’s advantage. 

Harper and Wildschut eventually entered the field of play as their, ready to operate on their respective wings: Harper on the right, Wildschut on the left. Meanwhile, The O’s went down to ten men as Brandon Cooper was forced of with an injury and the hosts had no substitutions remaining. 

Leyton Orient started to sit deep as City looked to capitalise on the extra man. Niskanen’s deflected cross eventually fell to Caroll in the box, who hit it on the half-volley but had his shot deflected and out for a corner.  

Alli’s impressive strength and footwork on the byline saw him wriggle his way beyond two defenders and played the ball across for Niskanen in the six-yard box. Unfortunately, Niskanen wasn’t able to react as the ball was played into his feet and the Finn miscued his effort. 

Caldwell threw his last roll of the dice as Cheick Diabate got sent on up top. Shortly after, City got one back! Wildschut’s cross floated beautifully into the area and Alli was at the end to meet it. Alli calmly headed in his first goal for City as he halved the deficit.  


Meanwhile, news spread that in another ground Cheltenham Town had lost, meaning City were mathematically confirmed in League One for the next season – they were now just playing for pride, and boy, did they do themselves proud. What had seemed to be a lost cause turned into a rampant finish from the Grecians. 

After a string of chances for City, the ball sat for Carroll on the edge of the box. Carroll had the ball out of his feet and struck it low into a crowded area. The ball took a deflection through the area, off Will Aimson, who claims to have intentionally flicked it on, City had levelled! Game on. Caldwell ordered his men to pick up the ball and continue as they looked to find the winner. 


Ten-man Leyton Orient were struggling as they played out the six added minutes and City continued to bombard their defence. City were just unable to unpick the defence for a third time to complete the comeback, but the travelling Grecian supporters were jubilant to be taking home a hard-earned point. 

Exeter City’s next match is away at Port Vale on Saturday 13th April at 3pm.

Exeter City: Sinisalo (GK), Rankine (Harper 65’, Diabate 84’), Sweeney (C), Aimson, Jules, Niskanen, Woods, Carroll, Richards (Harris 46’), Cole (Wildschut 65’), Aitchison (Alli 43’). 

Unused Subs: Macdonald, Purrington, Diabate. 

Leyton Orient: Brynn (GK), Sweeney, Simpson, Brown, Pigott, Sotiriou, Beckles (C), O’Neill, Galbraith, Sanders, Hunt. 

Subs: Howes, James, Agyei, Cooper, Moncur, Obiero, Edwards. 

Referee: Scott Jackson 

Attendance: TBC 

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