JAMIE McCOMBE’S sending off proved pivotal as victory slipped from Huddersfield Town’s grasp in the space of six agonising minutes.
Without ever hitting top gear, Lee Clark’s side were nevertheless firmly in the driving seat thanks to Alan Lee’s 22nd-minute header and Jack Hunt’s 70th-minute sizzler.
But McCombe was shown a straight red after jostling with George Porter, who ended up on the floor, as Orient prepared to take an 84th-minute corner.
When the set-piece was finally delivered by Dean Cox, substitute Kevin Lisbie headed home.
Then a minute into the five added on by Shropshire referee Rob Lewis, Lisbie set up centre-back Ben Chorley, who levelled with a low shot from just outside the penalty area.
At least Town took a point, and stretched their unbeaten run to 35, the second-best in Football League history.
But what felt like a defeat meant that instead of going second, they fell to eighth in the League I standings.
While McCombe claimed he had been grabbed in the most sensitive of areas, there’s little doubt he raised his hands and felled Porter with an outstretched leg, and whistler Lewis, who had a good view, showed no hesitation.
As well as the criticism of manager Clark, the big centre-back was hit with a three-match ban and maximum fine.
The dismissal meant a Town league bow for Liam Cooper, on loan from Hull, but it’s not a match he, or his teammates, will recall fondly.
That’s a shame for Hunt, because the 20-year-old right back had a fine game, defending solidly and raiding down his wing with gusto.
It was his incisive run, past Cox and between Chorley and left-back Elliot Omosuzi, which paved the way for the opener, planted into the net by Lee, whose aerial power was obvious all afternoon.
That’s three goals for the season for the 33-year-old and three for the club for Hunt, who latched onto a square ball from Damien Johnson and lashed home a right-foot shot.
While Oscar Gobern rattled the bar with a rasping 20-yard shot after playing a neat one-two with Scott Arfield in the 10th minute, Town didn’t create a huge number of clear-cut chances, but were still worth their advantage.