Last week’s victory against Peterborough cannot be understated. To lose a game even with Reda Johnson and Frank Nouble in the side would have posed some very challenging questions surrounding Steven Pressley’s reign. Instead this week has been spent basking in the glory of a very long-awaited win whilst simultaneously figuring out which train takes you to Brisbane Road.
On the face of it, a visit to Leyton Orient who are badly out of form presents a wonderful opportunity to banish those away day blues of this season. The O’s have failed to win in their past five games and are in a state of turmoil behind the scenes, what a relief to not be that club this week. We have only won one game though, the worst thing we could do now is get ahead of ourselves, we absolutely must put as much distance as possible between us and the bottom four. We do need to milk every last drop of that sense of momentum from last Saturday though.
This week has seen Steven Pressley add to the squad in the loan market. Whilst there is the danger of disrupting the balance of the team from last Saturday, an injury to Seb Hines and the general lack of quality in the striking department has made Aaron Martin and Gary Madine absolutely vital signings. I would expect Aaron Martin to slot straight into the team in place of Seb Hines, if his previous loan spell is anything to go on, Martin will fit in seamlessly. Madine though may have to make an impression from the bench after Nouble and Jackson looked very purposeful together against Peterborough.
The main selection issue is surrounding Conor Thomas’s suspension for picking up five yellow cards. His energy and box-to-box play were vital last week and there isn’t anyone who can easily step into Thomas’s shoes. The most natural replacement in the squad is Billy Daniels, unfortunately he is looking likely to miss the game through injury. Jim O’Brien could be moved into the centre with Mohamed Coulibaly playing on the right or Ivor Lawton could be handed his league debut.
Lee Burge’s high-profile error in letting in Peterborough’s second goal last week could make him a candidate for the bench. On the one hand, it was just one mistake and he won’t learn from it if he isn’t given another chance. On the other, this coming game could be a tight affair and we can’t afford to gift goals to the opposition in the manner he did. When the alternative is Ryan Allsop and the mistake came against one of the top free-kick takers outside of the Premier League, it might be the best option to let him continue in the team.
Possible Line-Up: (4-4-2) Burge; Willis, Martin, Johnson, Haynes; Coulibaly, O’Brien, Barton, Fleck; Nouble, Jackson.
Last Time We Met
One of our most memorable results last season came against Leyton Orient on a cold Tuesday night at Sixfields. The O’s were flying high and were unbeaten in the league up until that game. Goals from Carl Baker, Frank Moussa and Leon Clarke saw off Orient who had a penalty saved by Joe Murphy at a crucial time in the game.
The most recent game came in January where Orient, who to the surprise of many were continuing to challenge for automatic promotion, comfortably won 2-0. Leon Clarke was sulking at the club’s refusal to sell him to Wolves and made himself unavailable for selection with no senior alternatives. Instead George Thomas made his debut at 16 years old as a lone striker, unsurprisingly we struggled to threaten much and were deservedly beaten.
How Are They Doing?
It’s been a baffling past few months at Brisbane Road. On the face of it they should be doing really well, they had a manager with a proven record in this division, a new owner willing to invest heavily in the team and a few impressive summer signings in Darius Henderson and Jobi McAnuff. In fact, in my season preview I ranked their squad as the strongest in the division. Everything was in place to challenge for automatic promotion.
Following last season’s play-off final defeat Orient understandably started fairly slowly. New chairman Francesco Becchetti started to put pressure on manager Russell Slade’s job and had threatened to sack him at the end of September had results not improved. But they did, except the Cardiff City job had become available and Slade jumped ship, presumably due to the hostile working conditions that Becchetti had put in place.
The Italian businessman has dithered in his attempts to replace Slade, there has been no permanent appointment and it’s been a bit of a shambles. First, Slade’s former assistant Kevin Nugent took the job on a caretaker basis, results weren’t great but he was handed the job as ‘interim manager’ in order to promote greater stability at Brisbane Road. Following a 3-0 defeat at Port Vale last week, the club’s sporting director Mauro Milanese stepped into the manager’s seat, also as an interim appointment. Nugent has been demoted to assistant manager as former QPR defender Milanese embarks upon his first managerial posting.
Orient’s form has deteriorated despite having a fairly strong squad. An injury crisis has reduced their already small squad even further. Captain Nathan Clarke, goalie Adam Legzdins, deep-lying midfielder Lloyd James, last season’s top-scorer David Mooney, talismanic centre-forward Kevin Lisbie as well as midfield lynch-pin Romain Vincelot all look like missing this game. In addition the club’s leading scorer this season and big name summer signing Darius Henderson will miss be out through suspension for a red card last week.
Those who are available have been in poor form, none more so than winger Jobi McAnuff. A player who until very recently looked like a stand-out player in the Championship, McAnuff has failed to convince O’s fans thus far. Whilst I would still consider him a threat because of his reputation, he has been playing very far below his level this season and is seemingly losing confidence. In addition, another summer signing in former Arsenal striker Jay Simpson has been considered a disappointment, but he scored just once in the Thai league last season so maybe it shouldn’t be such a surprise.
There are still some very dangerous players to look out far, Dean Cox being the star of this team. A player who season after season shows he is too good for this level of football as either a winger or playing just off the striker, Cox both creates and scores goals. Orient have recently signed a journeyman Italian striker by the name of Gianvito Plasmati. At 6 foot 6 he is another one of those bean-pole strikers we often struggle against and will either be a menace or completely ineffectual.
Possible Line-Up: (4-4-2) Woods; Clarke, Cuthbert, Baudry, Omozusi; McAnuff, Wright, Bartley, Cox; Simpson, Plasmati.
You don’t need a particularly long memory to be wary of a team playing with no form and seemingly no confidence. Not only did we show last week that it brings a wild kind of desperation that can raise players’ games but we saw exactly the same from Crewe a few weeks before. If we can approach the job professionally and with the same level of desire and application that we showed against Peterborough, this should be a chance to grab back-to-back wins.
This is a game that I am looking forward to, Frank Nouble’s display the week before has me salivating and I intend to enjoy every last second of however long his loan spell lasts here. Having him and Reda Johnson in the side gives me a sense of confidence that not only we can win this game but that we will win this game. I am going for a 2-0 Coventry City win.