3 missed Alarms? a phonecall from the boss? half an hour late for work after a rainy journey home; all couldn’t dampen my mood from last night’s win at Coventry. Well, in fact, what most fans would tell you? What is better than seeing your team nick 3 points on their travels in their quest for survival? Not much to tell the truth, after Josh Wright grabbed a precious winner for his 1st O’s goal which moved the East London Side out of the bottom 4 for the first time in 2 months.
Yes, I can say it, I debated about going Coventry or not, after 45 minutes of the home match with Port Vale but with Orient ingrained in the brain from my dad for years; it was never a possibility to miss a trip on a Wednesday night. Up at 3:40 am for work, finishing at 2:15pm wasn’t a problem as I drove up to the Rioch to meet my dad. Elation after the winner but then the realization of hang on a minute, after the journey home, I have to be up for work in 3 and half hours.
Well, not exactly my boss will tell you, sleeping through 3 alarms until my boss rung and woke me up before being actually only 30 minutes for my shift at 5am. All for the love of Leyton Orient.
It was the cliche, a Smash and Grab win for the O’s who took all three points back to E10 after Josh Wright struck with 12 minutes left to leave Orient 2 points above the relegation zone. The Sky Blues had their chances in the game, hitting the post and a shot cleared off the line but Orient struck the killer blow at the Rioch registering their 2nd win in 5 days and 3rd win in 5 games.
Orient made 4 changes after their victory over Port Vale on Saturday, Nathan Clarke and Shane Lowry came in at the back for Luke O’Neil and Gary Sawyer. While Dean Cox was injured in the warm up and David Mooney dropped out for Jobi McAnuff and Darius Henderson. McAnuff’s inclusion was a surprise for most Orient fans after he was on International duty with Jamaica on Saturday.
Coventry who had won 3 out of their last 4 to climb away from the bottom 4, made only 1 change with Marcus Tudgay missing out with injury, Sanmi Odelusi coming in.
In a fairly uneventful first half hour, Orient’s game plan was easy to work: sit back letting Coventry play in front of them. Tony Mowbray had talked pre match about how his side went back to basics in their victory over Peterborough on Saturday but struggled to break down Orient in the early stages. Jim O’Brien struck a shot over the bar for the only real tester on goal but Dominic Samuel did pick up an injury for the home side, eventually being replaced by George Thomas.
The away side were continuing to invite pressure on their goal but struggled to create much going forward, resorting to long ball through Darius Henderson to get forward. Grant Ward had an attempt sail over the bar as neither side could get a foothold on the game. Orient’s best attacking play came from set pieces, in particularly corners where Mathieu Baudry and Shane Lowry both went close.
Coventry’s best chance off the half came after good play from Frank Nouble down the left, his pull back found O’Brien put his looping flick sailed agonizingly wide of the far post for the hosts. Orient responded with the guilt edge chance of the half, after a long throw from Scott Cuthbert was flicked on by Henderson. It found Dagnall but the striker could only direct his header straight at keeper Lee Burge from 5 yards out. Was that Orient’s chance?
The hosts must have been given a rocket at half time after their response at the start of the second half. O’Brien had shot just over before the home side hit the post, a neat one two from a corner found Ward, who beat Dagnall too easily but his curling shot hit the up right and bounced away. Orient were getting out ran in the middle of midfield with Coventry’s three of Ward, Fleck and O’Brien continually finding space between the O’s.
The 596 travelling fans breathed a huge sigh of relief 6 minutes after the restart with Alex Ciask failing to claim a ball, the ball fell to George Thomas with the goal gaping. But his goal bound shot was turned away from Baudry who had got back on the line. Ciask then had to tip over a dipping Ward shot from distance as the home side pressed for the killer first goal.
Coventry center half Matthew Pennington saw header clip the top of the goal before Jake Taylor was replaced by Ryan Hedges. In a remarkable story where Hedges played 90 minutes the previous evening in Wales U21 3-1 victory over Bulgaria. Any one who talks about players needed a break just speak to the 19 year old midfielder who tweeted after the match “Massive result tonight and exactly what we deserve!! Also, if anyone can find me a new set of legs it’d be much appreciated
The away side had been on the back foot since the start of the second half and were second to most balls as the home side could sense blood. Orient very rarely retreated out of their own half to attack with chances limited for the two strikers who were both having to work very hard to close down the ball. Then what was the turning point in the evening, Liverani brought on Lloyd James for Jobi McAnuff as the O’s went to a 4-5-1 formation.
The away side had struggled in the middle of the park since the start of the second half, James added some extra protection in front of the back 4 with Josh Wright given license to support Henderson. Hedges and Dagnall became the wide men as Liverani looked to close the game out with 23 minutes remaining.
Then the killer moment, after a flick on from Darius Henderson found Dagnall, the striker dribbled towards the box laying off to a unmarked Wright. The former Millwall man drove his shot past Burge to send 596 away fans into jubilation behind the goal with emotion clear to see on the midfielder’s face with his celebration. A massive goal for the O’s who had 12 minutes to hold on for a precious 3 points.
After Mowbray’s pre match speech of “We need to be organised, compete all over the pitch and see if it is enough” didn’t seem to register after a poor bit of play had seen them concede to an Orient side who had won 3 of their last 4 games when they had grabbed the first goal. It was a real sucker punch for Coventry with Orient on the back foot for the majority of the second half but small margins in football win matches.
Mowbray chucked on Ryan Haynes and Blair Turgott to try and grab an equaliser while Orient brought on Elliot Omosuzi for Dagnall as they went 5 at the back. The home side resorted to long ball which Orient dealt with with ease. Four minutes were added on but Orient hung on for their second win in a week and a perfect present for the travelling fans.
O’s chairman, Francesco Bechetti had laid on free coaches on for the away fans and the players replayed the owner’s belief in his side. Orient have a fighting chance of survival with 7 points needed in the final 7 games of the season to ensure safety for the season.
Liverani’s game plan was completed down to a tee, contain Coventry and hit the home side with one chance. It only takes one chance to win a game and Orient can vouch for that. The Sky Blues have been pulled right back into danger sitting just 1 point above Orient but still have a favorable run to the end of season. Their poor home form continues with 1 win in 11 at the Rioch but with the lack of atmosphere clear to see, it is not a surprise.
Only 8,010 turned up for the game in the 35,000 seated stadium which seems a waste of the stadium’s capacity. The ground seems to favor away sides who will have no nerves travelling to the Rioch.
Orient fans have seen a side of Orient which has been missing for most of the season: guts, determination and fight. 3 words which have been far from some performances from the O’s this season, but in the final stages of the season Orient are the form side at the bottom.
A great away victory which has put the pressure on the teams below the O’s who have two very winnable games next up with Gillingham at home and Crewe away. 2 wins is definitely a possibility with the side now growing in confidence. A fine trip for all O’s fans who saw the passion and meaning of the goal by Josh Wright.
Through the lows of the season, Orient remains in the blood and always will. No matter the result, we all will still turn up at rainy Gillingham or the soul less place which is Crawley. All for the one love… Leyton Orient. Why ever not?