TEN-man Hartlepool United clung on to claim a deserved 1-1 draw at Leyton Orient having dominated until Paul Murray’s second-half red card.
Mick Wadsworth’s side were looking to halt a run of back-to-back defeats but they will leave East London perhaps disappointed they didn’t take maximum points.
Pools should have been ahead in the third minute when Peter Hartley’s header, from Evan Horwood’s corner, appeared to cross the line before being scrambled clear through a combination of goalkeeper Ben Alnwick and defender Tom Clarke.
Orient managed to smuggle away from danger and, despite the vociferous appeals of the visiting players, referee Craig Pawson waved away their protests.
It was all Pools in the opening exchanges and James Poole was causing the hosts all manner of problems.
It was Poole who seized upon Stephen Dawson’s wayward pass on 14 minutes but he was unable to get his shot away from inside the area, instead teeing up Neil Austin whose low blast was blocked.
Poole was again afforded time and space just moments later but, having taken a second to pick his spot, Leon McSweeney recovered to slide and block the striker’s goal-bound steer.
Another incisive visiting attack saw Poole find Andy Monkhouse who in turn rolled a well-weighted ball into the path of Antony Sweeney but his first-time shot was repelled by the shins of Ben Alnwick.
And so it was that Pools were hit with a sucker-punch, George Porter scampering clear down the right before sliding a ball across goal for Dean Cox to turn in from point-blank range on 23 minutes.
Still Pools dominated and Poole had a volley smothered by Alnwick just before the half-hour mark.
Wadsworth brought on Gary Liddle at the break in place of Ritchie Humphreys and again it was the visitors who started the half the brighter.
And it took just eight minutes to draw level, Monkhouse toppled by Terrell Forbes inside the area with Neil Austin stepping up to tuck home the resultant penalty.
But with Pools still on top they were dealt a major blow when Paul Murray was dismissed for a second bookable offence 20 minutes from time, the midfielder having tripped Porter as he made his way towards the danger zone.
The numerical advantage drew Orient out of their own half and David Mooney went close to firing his side ahead when he drilled inches wide of Scott Flinders’ upright on 78 minutes.
But Pools held strong to take a point and the result means they’ve only been beaten once on the road this season.
LEYTON ORIENT: Alnwick, Smith, Cuthbert, Forbes, McSweeney, Porter, Dawson, Clarke, Cox, Cureton, Mooney. Subs: Lovelock, Omozusi, Laird, Cestor, Odubajo
HARTLEPOOL: Flinders, Wright, Collins, Hartley, Humphreys, Austin, Sweeney, Murray, Horwood, Poole, Monkhouse. Subs: Rafferty, Liddle, Brown, Boyd, Luscombe.
Referee: Craig Pawson (South Yorkshire)