A week’s a long time in football, after suffering their worst defeat in 34 years last weekend at Sheffield United, Leyton Orient traveled to Colchester United. The feeling of what Orient would turn up this week, the side that rolled over in Sheffield or the side that came from behind at Hartlepool?
Who knows? But away from home, Orient tend to play better and pick up results with Alberto Cavasin making changes from last week’s loss in Sheffield (I don’t count the Check a what ever competition). Yvan Erichot returned at center half with Nicky Hunt moving back to right back while Sandro Semedo dropped to the bench with Michael Collins making his first start.
A feeling of de ja vu with the O’s lining up in a midfield diamond, we all know how that has ended previously. But on paper a good system which would suit the personnel available with Orient looking to control the midfield.
The game started slowly for both sides with neither able to gain a foothold on the game until Jay Simpson finally found his scoring boots when he fired home from inside the box to give Orient the lead. Just what the O’s needed following their abysmal showing in the FA Cup last weekend. The O’s could have doubled their advantage when Ollie Palmer’s flick found Simpson but his shot was beaten away by Sam Walker in the Colchester goal.
Neither side were troubling their opposing keeper but with O’s diamond in operation, both Michael Collins and Gavin Massey were looking to support their strikers when they could. It was Massey that near fashioned another great opening when his run down the left produced a cross but it evaded both Simpson and Palmer in the center.
Colchester were finding it difficult to keep possession, with their chances to attack being presented down the wings. With Orient’s diamond relatively narrow, the U’s were looking to put crosses into the box with Brennan Dickenson nearly creating their equaliser. The winger’s cross from the left was somehow put wide by the on rushing Guthrie who should have pulled his side level.
With Colchester moving to a back three at the break, looking to overload the wide areas when in possession, Orient seized their opportunity to strike. Barely two minutes into the second half, Nicky Hunt’s run and curling shot found the bottom corner for his first goal for Orient and first in 4 1/2 years.
The goal seemed to calm Orient down in possession but the away side had to be thankful when Guthrie side footed an effort wide after fine work down the left from Dickenson. Dickenson fired an effort at Alex Cisak before Orient wrapped up victory with the goal of the game. Palmer glanced the ball to Simpson who took one touch before firing home from 25 yards put the O’s 3-0 ahead.
Orient could have added to their tally when Jay Simpson’s shot was blocked before captain Robbie Weir saw his long range effort be tipped over by Walker. Orient moved up to 19th position with victory however will need to back it up next weekend at home to Blackpool… I feel we have been here before…..
Why did it work?
Firstly you have to beat what is in front of you and let’s be fair Colchester were woeful on Saturday in front of goal however Orient got the job down and actually kept a clean sheet, a rarity this season.
Cavasin pointed at post match that he wanted his midfielders to support the strikers when they could as that has been missing recently. That is exactly what they did with Collins and Massey going beyond Palmer and Simpson to give the O’s options in attack.
The tightness of the diamond saw Robbie Weir have his best game in an Orient shirt with the former Burton man far from his best this season. The shape allowed him to concentrate on his one job, sitting in front of the back four. Too many times this season Orient have played just two central midfielders which has meant they have been overrun. On Saturday Orient outnumbered Colchester in the midfield, creating a better defensive unit.
However, with the diamond there is always drawbacks of allowing space wide for the opposition to put crosses into the box which is what Colchester tried to do. Dickenson was a handful in the second half and on another day he could have assisted a couple of goals.
Furthermore, the diamond is built on the fact that your full backs will provide the width going forward otherwise the play is far to narrow. Callum Kennedy and Nicky Hunt tried to do this throughout but at times, the O’s looked for the option wide and it wasn’t there.
But Hunt did grab his first goal in 4 1/2 years when he drove forward and curled an effort home. Fully deserved for a player who has been one of if not the most consistent Orient player this term. At the start of the season I wasn’t sure he would be a constant starter but now he is one of the first names on the team sheet for me. Solid at the back, puts his body on the line and has the experience of playing at a higher level to look back on.
Kennedy was as solid as ever, a key link between the Orient faithful and the players at the current moment. His interview after Sheffield United away was exactly right, he knew what the 300 odd O’s fans were thinking about the performance. He pulled no punches and didn’t shy away from the situation, he faced it head on which deserved respect.
I am by no means Yvan Erichot biggest fan but Saturday proved in some games he is exactly what you need at the back. Aerially very good and Orient’s back line was stronger with his inclusion, which allowd Hunt to move to right back. However Erichot seems the perfect fit when teams decide to go direct against you but when a team will play balls down the channel and force your defenders towards their own goal, this is where the problem arise.
I have said it before the shape created more men in central areas which helped the team build from the back with Collins integral to this. His energy helped move Orient forward alongside Atangana’s energy in he middle of the park. I have called for a while to play three in midfield with Weir deeper and Collins and Nigel further ahead. But the main idea is being adaptable to play home and away, the diamond could give teams an outlet ball at home…..
But we have been in this position before, win away from home then a home game next up. The key is to back up the result at home to Blackpool, otherwise the hard work would have been undone again. I mean put the stats out there: Orient have the 2nd best away record in the league but the 2nd worse home record. A side at this level has to be built on a solid home record, but until that changes for the O’s there will still be problems.
Anyway, the road is never smooth when following Orient and there will definitely be downs along with ups till the end of the season but the mood will helped no end at Brisbane Road with a win on Saturday. I mean it could happen, you never know?