Grimsby Town were forced to settle for a draw after a pulsating clash with Sky Bet League Two leaders Leyton Orient at Blundell Park.
The visitors led at half-time through Charlie Kelman’s opening goal but the game came to life within a minute of the restart when John McAtee equalised.
The Mariners completed the turnaround when George Lloyd gave them the lead on 52 minutes and although the home side were now well on top, Orient got themselves back on level terms through substitute George Moncur.
Town had a chance to regain the advantage from the penalty spot after a handball was spotted by the referee but Anthony Glennon saw his kick saved by keeper Lawrence Vigouroux, who dived to earn his side a point.
Just one change was made to the Grimsby team following the midweek goalless draw with Harrogate Town as Alex Hunt was preferred to Bryn Morris, who dropped to the bench.
Goalkeeper Max Crocombe lined up behind a back three of Michee Efete, Luke Waterfall and Niall Maher, with Josh Emmanuel and Glennon again selected in the wing-back positions. Hunt was joined in midfield by Gavan Holohan and Harry Clifton, while McAtee supported Lloyd in attack.
Mikey O’Neil, Tom Dickson-Peters, Danilo Orsi, Andy Smith, Owen Gallacher and Ryan Taylor were all alongside Morris on the list of substitutes.
Orient made the journey from east London looking to continue their march towards promotion, with Richie Wellens’ men starting the day 13 points ahead of second-placed Stevenage at the top of the league.
Their starting XI included former Town midfielder Craig Clay alongside Idris El Mizouni, who made six appearances for the Mariners in a loan spell from Ipswich Town in 2021.
El Mizouni had the first shot of the game but a heavy deflection took his 20-yard effort through to Crocombe.
Another opportunity for the visitors came when Efete lost possession to Kelman near the edge of the Town penalty area, although Kieran Sadlier’s shot was straight at the keeper.
Hunt fired over the bar in the home side’s first attack of note on five minutes, before a cross from Emmanuel on the right was claimed by goalkeeper Vigouroux.
Town had an opening down the right when Clay lost possession to Lloyd and he then passed inside to Clifton but the midfielder’s flick on the edge of the box was intercepted before the ball could reach McAtee.
Good defending by Efete saw him head the ball back to Crocombe after a cross from Tom James on the away right, before another cross was claimed by the keeper after the ball was played in from the left by El Mizouni.
The deadlock was broken on 24 minutes and it was the visitors who took the lead, as KELMAN got the ball with his back to go and hit a low shot on the turn which beat Crocombe.
Midfielder Ruel Sotiriou had been influential over the opening quarter of the game and two minutes after the goal, he won a corner on the Orient right, which took a deflection on its way out for a throw-in on the opposite side of the pitch.
McAtee was spoken to by the referee after a foul near the halfway line, before a ball across the penalty area by Jayden Sweeney was turned wide of the near post by Sadlier.
Clifton burst into the box from the right at the other end and shot from a narrow angle as Town looked to hit back, although Vigouroux dived to save it at his near post.
The Mariners pressure continued when McAtee pulled the ball back from the right but Holohan was unable to get it under control near the penalty spot.
The game paused when McAtee went down on 33 minutes and he needed treatment before being passed fit to continue.
A long throw from Maher was cleared and a Glennon cross was caught by Vigouroux as the home side kept looking for an equaliser with half-time looming.
James sent a long throw into the box at the other end but it was headed wide by Omar Beckles, before another Maher thrown broke for Holohan, whose strike from 25 yards flew wide of the target.
Three added minutes were played before the break and with no further goalmouth action coming before the half-time whistle, Orient’s single-goal advantage remained intact.
No changes were made before the restart and Town were level within a minute. With some of the crowd still yet to take their seats for the second half, Glennon got the ball on the left and hit a low cross which McATEE converted from six yards.
Glennon won a corner on the left as the home side’s fast start continued but this time, they were unable to capitalise.
But Town did not have to wait much longer to complete the turnaround, as they took the lead on 52 minutes. Theo Archibald lost the ball deep inside his own half and LLOYD nipped in to go through on goal before keeping his composure to beat the onrushing Vigouroux and make it 2-1.
Another chance was created soon afterwards when Hunt found Glennon in space but the wing-back could only shoot at the keeper.
Adam Thompson, Darren Pratley and Moncur were sent on in place of Clay, James and Sadlier as Orient made a triple-substitution in a bid to regain control of the game.
But Town were now firmly on top and their first change saw Morris replace Clifton with an hour on the clock.
Waterfall needed treatment after being caught in the face by Beckles but he was waved back on after a change of shirt.
Soon afterwards, Orient were back on level terms as they scored from their first chance of the second half. Substitute MONCUR was the man to get himself on the scoresheet as he steered a low, first-time shot past Crocombe from 20 yards after being played in by Sotiriou.
Lloyd was shown the yellow card after a flashpoint on the Town left and seconds later, the hosts were given a chance to reclaim the advantage when a pull-back by McAtee struck an arm and the referee pointed to the penalty spot. Sotiriou and Kelman were both booked before Glennon stepped up to take the kick but Vigouroux dived the right way and pushed the ball away from danger, keeping the score at 2-2.
Taylor replaced Lloyd in the Grimsby attack with 11 minutes to go, before Holohan let fly with a strike from distance but Vigouroux got down to make a comfortable stop.
The referee was forced to stop the game when Sotiriou stayed down with a head injury, despite McAtee making progress down the right for the Mariners. The Orient midfielder was eventually passed fit to play on after receiving treatment.
Paul Smyth replaced Kelman in the blue of the away side with four minutes remaining, before a Morris shot from 25 yards bounced back off a team-mate.
The fourth official signalled seven added minutes to be played, with Town pushing forward in search of a winning goal.
But the Mariners were unable to force their way ahead again and as the final whistle blew, they were the team disappointed not to be taking all three points after an excellent second-half performance.
Nevertheless, the positive display against the division’s top team will provide an extra boost of confidence going into Wednesday’s big FA Cup fifth-round tie at Premier League Southampton.