Leyton Orient striker Macauley Bonne can’t wait for tomorrow’s opening trip to Sutton United. The O’s open the new National League season in the lunchtime kick off at Gander Green Lane in front of the BT Sport cameras.
It has been a summer of change at Brisbane Road with a takeover from lifelong fan Nigel Travis and his consortium to lift the doom and gloom over Leyton. Fan favourite Martin Ling returned as Director of football and former CEO Matt Porter re-joined the club as a Director which helped to boost the optimism at the O’s.
Starting the summer, Orient only had ten professionals remaining on contracts handing Ling and uphill task of player recruitment. With Ling’s contacts, the O’s quickly began bringing players into the club, hoping to finally add some stability in East London.
With basically a brand new squad, Bonne is clear to point out “we have created some real togetherness in a short space of time. There are no little groups, we are all together as one. We need to mould and learn about each other”. Leytonorient.com
Bonne has enjoyed working under Steve Davis along with the rest of his team mates “there is hunger in the team, everyone wants to go out and do well. There is no guarantee on the team, everyone is still fighting for a shirt. Every player wants to make themselves noticed”.
Head coach Steve Davis has only been at the club for a matter of weeks and understands that a quick start to the season is ideally what Orient would like but it doesn’t always happen like that. Speaking to the East London Advertiser yesterday, “you want to try and build momentum as quick as you can but it is not the end of the world if doesn’t go how we would like”.
With Davis’s appointment coming after the start of pre season, Davis is aware that “I still think we are a little behind, we have prepared as best we can and the character of the players will help to carry us through in certain games”
Orient ended pre season with a 5-1 defeat to an Arsenal U23 side on Tuesday with Davis opting for mixed teams in both halves to assess his squad ahead of tomorrow’s game. However the former Crewe boss knows his strongest side and “when we are at full strength I know we can compete with anyone”.
August is a busy month for National League sides and the O’s head coach understands that his squad will all play their part, “it is unlikely that the opening team for Sutton will end the month because of the amount of games we play”. He added “we will need everyone and will have to make changes, so it will depend on how the younger lads perform in those games but we are all excited about what is to come”. East London Advertiser
As optimism has built over the last month Bonne is raring to go Sutton, “scoring in the last two games has given me a boost and I can’t wait for Saturday”. Speaking earlier today to leytonorient.com Bonne knows that the despite the 4g pitch at Gander Green Lane, it is important that “we go there and get the three points, it is different to what we normally play on but we have to deal with it”.
After achieving a 16 year high on Season ticket sales with over 3600 holders (as of Friday 4th August) Bonne acknowledges the importance of the fans and the impact they can have on the team. “There was over 2000 fans at a pre-season game, you can’t knock that. Fans love this club and all I want to do is score goals for them”.
With Orient set to take well over 1000 fans tomorrow, the former Colchester frontman knows that “with the fans behind us for the first game it is a massive boost. If the fans are their for us then it gives you more motivation and you want to play well for them”.
Sutton United head into the start of their second season in the National League after gaining promotion back in 2015/2016 from the Conference South. Paul Doswell helped the U’s to a 12th place finish last term including a famous journey in the FA Cup which saw them lose 2-0 to Arsenal in the 5th Round at Gander Green Lane.
- Sutton had the fifth best home record in the conference last season
- Only Lincoln, Tranmere and Aldershot took more points at home than Sutton
- Sutton only lost one league fixture at home in 2017 (Forest Green)
- Home Record 2017 – P15 W7 D6 L2
The U’s have enjoyed four consecutive wins in pre season (1-0 vs Dartford, 5-2 vs Havant & Waterlooville, 3-2 vs Norwich XI) ending with a 2-1 victory over Chelmsford last Saturday.
After their exploits in the FA Cup last season, the summer saw Doswell lose two key men Roarie Deacon (Dundee) and Maxime Bimou (Coventry) however they have replaced with Moses Emmanuel and Ross Lafayette (Dover Athletic).
- Deacon was top scorer (league) last season with 11 in 48 games while Biamou (all comps) 13 in 45
- Between them the pair scored 17 of their 61 league goals (28%)
Opening Day History
Orient have enjoyed the first day of the season in recent years with their last defeat back in 2014/2015 season.
- In fact Orient are unbeaten in the last four seasons in the first away league game of the season (16/17 – 1-1 vs Cheltenham, 15/16 – 3-1 vs Dagenham, 14/15 – 3-1 vs Oldham, 13/14 – 5-1 vs Carlisle)
- Orient last defeat in the opening away fixture of the season was back in 2012/2013 in a 3-1 defeat at Tranmere
Sutton on the other hand have failed to win their opening fixtures of a new campaign since a 4-0 win vs Margate back in 2009. The U’s lost their first fixture back in the National League last season.
- Sutton have faired slightly better in their first home league game of the season, beating Havant & Waterlooville 1-0 back in 2014.
Orient will be without recent signing Jamie Sendles-White who is still regaining match fitness after an injury picked up last season. First team captain Charlie Lee missed the last two pre season friendlies with a knee injury picked up in training and remains a doubt. Orient will be set to hand at least nine or 10 league debuts with keeper Charlie Grainger the only player to be named who played last season.
Probable team: Grainger, Caprice, Elokobi, Coulson, Widdowson, Lee, Clay, McAnuff, Boco, Mooney, Bonne
Sutton could hand debuts to central midfielders Kenny Davis and Simon Walton along with the trio from Dover, Moses Emmanuel, Ross Laffayette and Aswad Thomas. Josh Taylor could play against the side who had him on trial in July and who he scored two goals for at Harlow.
Prediction – Sutton United 1-2 Leyton Orient