By Rory Drake
Luke Armstrong’s fifth goal of the season wasn’t enough for Gateshead as ten-man Leyton Orient struck late on to draw 1-1.
Both teams had struggled to create many clear-cut chances, but Armstrong found the net late to put Gateshead in front.
James Alabi then received a straight red for Orient, but the visitors still managed to draw level with Marvin Ekpiteta equalising at the death.
Gateshead came into the game looking to bounce back from a first defeat of the season last weekend and could have taken the lead just six minutes in.
Robbie Tinkler’s header from JJ O’Donnell’s corner looked destined for the top corner, but Dean Brill rose well to deny him.
Orient’s first chance of the game came in unconventional style, with Macauley Bonne’s left-wing cross deflected and nearly looping in under the bar, only for Aynsley Pears to tip the ball over.
Orient were growing into the game and creating the better chances in the first half. A cross from Jobi McAnuff went across the face of goal, with Craig Clay waiting to pounce, but he was unable to make contact.
Bonne then had the chance to put the visitors ahead but failed to make proper contact with an acrobatic effort, allowing Pears to save comfortably.
Clay then looked to have put Orient in front after a good move from Orient. The midfielder was played the ball in the box and beat Pears, but Jon Mellish was there to clear the ball on the line.
Gateshead struggled to create anything in the first half and the frustration was showing. Lewis Maloney tried an ambitious effort from 30-yards out, but never looked like troubling the keeper.
Steve Watson made two early second-half changes, bringing on White and Salkeld and their introductions turned the game on its head.
White was involved immediately sliding the ball to Greg Olley, who found Armstrong in the box, Armstrong’s first touch brought the ball up and his shot then deflected wide.
The resulting corner was taken short to White whose cross was met with a thumping header from Steve Rigg at the far post, but Brill did well to turn the ball away.
Orient had been quiet in the second half but came close on the hour with Josh Koroma curling a shot just over from 25-yards.
Moments later, Greg Olley found himself in space on the corner of the box but could only find the side netting.
With 20 minutes to go Orient came close again, Bonne turned well in the box and shot an effort which found the side netting after taking a massive deflection.
The game looked set to finish goalless until with 77 minutes on the clock White slid Armstrong through one-on-one, with the Middlesbrough loanee sliding past Brill.
Orient’s hopes of getting anything from the game were dealt shortly after when James Alabi received a straight red for a challenge on the halfway line.
But Orient kept going and found an equaliser in the 89th minute. Gateshead failed to clear a corner, which eventually fell to Ekpiteta who rifled an effort through a crowd in front of him and past Pears to bring the O’s level.
Gateshead XI: Pears; Tinkler, Kerr, Mellish; Thomson (Salkeld 55’), Hunter, Olley, Maloney (White 55’), O’Donnell; Armstrong, Rigg
Subs not used: Foden, Devitt, Boden
Goals: Armstrong (77)
Bookings: Mellish (28), Tinkler (59)
Leyton Orient XI: Brill; Widdowson, Coulson, McAnuff, Clay, Bonne, Dayton (Alabi 67), Judd (Harrold 86), Koroma, Ekpiteta, Lee (Gorman 62)
Subs not used: Happe, Sargeant
Goals: Ekpiteta (89)
Sendings off: Alabi (81)
Referee: Glen Hart
Attendance: 1052 (209 away)
MOTM: Fraser Kerr