Preview: Leyton Orient

Where We Are

Saturday’s win over Stevenage set us back on course after a rocky couple of weeks, however there’s little time to pat ourselves on the backs as we now enter into our toughest phase of the season. Not only does Tuesday evening’s game against Leyton Orient signify our second game in 4 days but is also against a side who are yet to lose in any competition.

The squad is yet again looking thin for our trip to East London, in addition to the continued absences of Carl Baker and Billy Daniels, Cyrus Christie picked up a knock against Stevenage which saw him leave the pitch for the final 10 minutes. During the game it was Jordan Willis who took up Cyrus’s position but there are a number of options that Pressley has to cover the space vacated at right-back. In addition to Jordan Willis, Pressley can move Jordan Clarke back into his more natural right-back position and give a debut to Stuart Urquhart. However that might be to the detriment of the newly forming central defensive partnership between Jordan Clarke and Andy Webster. The third option that Pressley has is to hand Aaron Phillips his first start for the club, Phillips impressed whilst helping to save Nuneation from relegation in the Conference so has experience of a tough, competitive atmosphere.

What is likely to dominate Pressley’s thinking is how seriously the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy should be taken. On the one hand it provides him with the chance to test untried players as well as rest key players, on the other it’s a massive opportunity to bring some optimism to the club and with the team unlikely to achieve promotion this season this is a chance for glory. The other aspect of the argument is that the club will receive a fine if there are over 5 changes to the line-up from last Saturday, which still gives plenty of room to maneuvre especially within our squad.

Then again Leyton Orient might just knock us out anyway.

Last Time We Met

It was in the League Cup and it was the second game of this season saw us take on a Leyton Orient side hot after thrashing Carlisle on the opening day whilst we had just been defeated by Crawley in our opening fixture. If you don’t remember, Orient won 3-2 in a game which saw Carl Baker sent off as well as Leon Clarke miss a penalty in a surprisingly entertaining fixture.

This season has been scheduled by the Football League to ensure a higher number of Saturday (or Sunday) kick-offs to improve gate revenues for clubs in the league by reducing the number of mid-week fixtures. Interestingly though we will play Leyton Orient 4 times by the end of the season, none of which will be on a Saturday. Orient will also become the first side to play Coventry at Sixfields in mid-week, in what’s sure to be a vibrant atmosphere.

How Are They Doing

After winning 10 of their first 11 fixtures in all competitions this season (including 8 straight wins in the league) they’ve drawn their last 2, losing some of that early momentum. This game could be important in defining their season, if they win they’re still in red hot form, if they lose then they’re without a win in 3 and doubts start to grow over how strong their promotion challenge is. Alternatively a loss on Tuesday might simply be because they’re choosing to conserve their energy for a promotion push. They’ll definitely try and find some way of not defining themselves amongst last year’s Tranmere side as far as their early season form has been going.

Orient though do not have a great deal of in the way of squad depth so will almost certainly retain most of the side that’s started the season so well. That means to look out for Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney in attack as well as Dean Cox in midfield who are their most well known dangerman. Also to look out for shall be Moses Odubajo, a pacey winger who apparantly (according to some papers) is being watched by Tottenham (you’d think they have enough players now) and Shaun Batt who’s a tall, fast striker/winger whose probably the man in the best form for Orient.

Their start though has also been built upon a strong defensive foundation. Frenchmen Romain Vincelot and Mathieu Baudry have been key players for them this season in keeping their defence tight as has been their goalie Jamie Jones who’s returned to fitness but has long been one of the best keepers outside the top two divisions.

Prediction

Although the starting line-ups can sometimes be hard to predict in these cup games it seems that the small squad size of their club makes it more predictable. Leyton Orient are maybe starting to come down after their insanely good start to the season but are at home and they’re against a Coventry side who’ll be missing at least 2 first-choice starters in Cyrus Christie and Carl Baker (both very important to how we’ve been playing this season).

All that considered I predict a forgettable 2-0 win for the Orient.

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