Leyton Orient won promotion to the English Football League after their goalless draw against already-relegated Braintree Town confirmed them as champions of the National League.
The O’s only needed a point to secure a return to the EFL after two seasons in the fifth tier, but title rivals Salford City were beaten 3-2 away at Hartlepool United, and Solihull were held to a draw at Dagenham & Redbridge.
Orient almost opened the scoring on the hour mark when Macauley Bonne found the net, only to be flagged offside.
That was as close as they came to a goal, but did enough to secure top spot and the solitary automatic promotion place.
In a game which Orient dominated, the pressure on them began to ease as news filtered through of Hartlepool’s three second-half goals against Salford.
Monday’s goalless draw against Solihull had put Orient into pole position to win promotion as long as they avoided defeat by Braintree.
Salford needed to win with a five-goal swing against Pools and hope Orient lost, while Solihull had eight goals to make up if they won and both Salford and Orient were beaten.
There were rapturous celebrations at the final whistle, with over 8,000 home fans flooding the pitch as Orient’s draw meant they had sealed their EFL return regardless of other results.
Orient’s route back to the EFL
Orient sealed the National League title and promotion at the second attempt, having finshed 13th last season after their 112-year stay in the EFL came to an end in 2017.
Soon after their relegation the O’s were taken over by a consortium headed by Nigel Travis, who helped turn the club around following a tumultuous three years of ownership under Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti.
The appointment of ex-boss Martin Ling as director of football and the return of former chief executive Matt Porter to the board of directors brought stability back to Brisbane Road.
The O’s suffered just one league defeat in the first half of the campaign and five straight wins in March cemented their promotion credentials.
Top spot was virtually assured following a 0-0 draw at third-placed Solihull Moors on Easter Monday, leaving Orient three points clear at the top of the table with a superior goal difference over second-placed Salford City and the Moors.
Manager Justin Edinburgh, appointed in November 2017, seals his second promotion to the EFL, having guided Newport County through the play-offs in 2013.
The east London club could yet seal the non-league double, emulating Colchester United and Wycombe Wanderers. with the FA Trophy final against AFC Fylde coming up on Sunday, 19 May.
- 21EkpitetaBooked at 51mins
- 7McAnuffSubstituted forLeeat 71′minutes
- 8ClayBooked at 6mins
- 16BrophySubstituted forMaguire-Drewat 88′minutes
- 19KoromaSubstituted forHarroldat 84′minutes
- 29AtkinsonSubstituted forBorgat 7′minutesBooked at 65mins
- 35AllenBooked at 27minsSubstituted forCerulliat 78′minutes
- Josh Smith
Match ends, Leyton Orient 0, Braintree Town 0.
Second Half ends, Leyton Orient 0, Braintree Town 0.
Substitution, Leyton Orient. Jordan Maguire-Drew replaces James Brophy.
Substitution, Leyton Orient. Matt Harrold replaces Josh Koroma.
Substitution, Braintree Town. Alfie Cerulli replaces Iffy Allen.
Substitution, Leyton Orient. Charlie Lee replaces Jobi McAnuff.
Oscar Borg (Braintree Town) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Marvin Ekpiteta (Leyton Orient) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Second Half begins Leyton Orient 0, Braintree Town 0.
First Half ends, Leyton Orient 0, Braintree Town 0.
Iffy Allen (Braintree Town) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
Substitution, Braintree Town. Oscar Borg replaces Robert Atkinson.
Craig Clay (Leyton Orient) is shown the yellow card for a bad foul.
First Half begins.
Lineups are announced and players are warming up.