Leyton Orient boss Andy Hessenhaler knows the importance of hitting the ground running ahead of their league two curtain raiser at Cheltenham tomorrow. The O’s finished outside the play off places last season and will be looking to secure a return to League 1 this term.
Hessenhaler was appointed in the summer on a permanent basis after moving up from assistant manager to Ian Hendon and Kevin Nolan. Speaking to leytonorient.com ahead of the game “We started well last year and got off to a great start. It is important to hit the ground running and gain that momentum from day 1″.
The former Gillingham boss feels that there always comes a time with pre season where you need competitive football, “I have been pleased with pre season, we have gradually got better in games but it comes a time where you have had enough and are ready for the real stuff”.
Summer addition Tom Parkes understands the test that Cheltenham will pose tomorrow having been in exactly the same position last season. Parkes moved to the capital after gaining back to back promotions with Bristol Rovers. Speaking to leytonorientcom ahead of his league debut tomorrow “they have just been promoted from the conference so there will be a buzz around the place. They will want to try and get off to a flying start just like us but we have got to go there and focus on getting the three points”.
Parkes joined at the start of July and feels comfortable in E10 “it always takes a bit of time to get used to new surroundings but I feel have settled in well and all the new players have gelled as a team and think over pre season it has been evident”. Parkes was one of nine summer arrivals in East London as Andy Hessenhaler looked to build a challenge for promotion.
Midefielder Nigel Atangana completed his first pre season at the O’s after a January move from Portsmouth and is relishing a return to a happy hunting ground. Atangana, who spoke to leytonorient.com last weekend “I have some very good memories against Cheltenham having scored their when I was at Portsmouth. We are looking forward to the game and we have to start well”.
With a sickness bug running through the Orient camp, Atangana could seize his opportunity in central midfield, “if we are missing a few players through injury or illness, we have to stick together because we all want to go in the right direction”. He added “it will be the first test of the season and it will be a tough one at the National Conference Champions. I am now confident for the first game of the season and the lads are raring to go”.
Cheltenham midfielder Harry Pell is relishing a return to playing in the football league after a season away. Pell penned a two year deal for the Robins last summer with the ambition to be playing League football within a year. Speaking on the eve of tomorrow’s game to Robinsplayer “we know how important the start of this campaign is, most importantly I want a good year for me and the team”.
Cheltenham ended their pre season campaign with defeat to Bristol Rovers last weekend, in a performance that Pell described as “unacceptable”. The Robins midfielder added “it has been a little frustrating pre season, with negativity comes an attitude to put it right. We have put a lot of hours in this week leading up to the big game and am sure by three everybody will be ready to go”.
Striker Danny Wright has waited all his career to play in the football league and is excited about the prospect tomorrow. Wright had spent season after season in the non-league before gaining promotion last season and is sure that his teammates can replicate their last season form. Speaking to robinsplayer “We feel good to go this weekend, the boys are confident, we definitely have what it takes to be as successful as last year – that is definitely the aim.
An important factor for Wright is to keep the “togetherness” of last season, “everybody said it the togetherness around the club was a massive help to help us win the league. We have kept the nucleus together which is important” However, manager Gary Johnson was left frustrated by his summer transfer dealings, with clubs failing to deliver in their promises.
Johnson spoke to robinsplayer yesterday “we waited for certain players for a long time but unfortunately there were unable to come. So we had to quickly adapt, a couple of lads came in today”. Johnson has set his target on the opening 10 games to assess his sides start, “I think you need a good start anyway, August and September is 10 games. You just want to be up there with the challengers, we know the importance of getting a good start. We have a difficult start but we have earned the right to be here”.
The Robins bounced back as Champions last season with a big helping hand coming from their prolific striker force of Wright and Dan Holman who scored 52 of their 87 league goals. Wright knows that with competition for places in attack is key for to replicate what brought that success last season. “There is definitely goals between us, we need to make sure we are doing what brought us the goals last year. Competition breeds success, we are hopeful we can take the performances into the lead and upset teams”
- League Record last season – P46 W30 D11 L5 F87 A30 101 points
- Home record – P23 W17 D5 L1 F49 A13
- Unbeaten in their last 16 league matches at home (26th September 1-0 defeat to Tranmere)
- They were the highest scorers in the league with the strongest defense
- Scored two or more in 8 of their last 9 home league games
Opening Day History
- Cheltenham are unbeaten in their last 11 seasons in their first home game of the season
- Orient have won their last three opening away games – 3-1, 3-1, 5-1
Gary Johnson revealed that Aaron Downes and Jack Munns have both been ruled out of tomorrow’s clash whilst James Dayton will face a fitness test. Johnson could include all new signings Danny Whitehead, Daniel O’Shaughnessy, Easah Suliman and Russell Griffiths. However Kyle Storer remains suspended after a biting incident at the end of last season.
Andy Hessenhaler revealed that a sickness bug hit his squad last weekend with the effects still being felt in E10. Callum Kennedy, Sammy Moore, Dean Cox and Alex Cisak all missed training this week while Robbie Weir is still struggling with a knee injury sustained in pre season. Hessenhaler could hand league debuts to Gavin Massey, Harry Cornick, Jordan Bowery.
Head to Head – Leyton Orient 6, Draw 4, Cheltenham 9
- Last meeting -04/04/2009 – Cheltenham 0-1 Leyton Orient
- Only one of the last four meetings have both teams have scored
- There is been no draw in last seven meetings
- Last draw – 27/08/2005 – Cheltenham 1-1 Orient
Prediction – Cheltenham 2-2 Leyton Orient