A new year, a new start, a new gaffer. 2018 the time to keep building under Justin Edinburgh. After four wins in his first six games in charge, Edinburgh was looking for his side to keep their run going and continue on their upward curve.
First up a trip to local rivals Dagenham & Redbridge, the fourth meeting between the sides in just over three months. A battling 0-0 draw at Victoria Road with it being Orient’s fourth game in eight days and their second in three days. Chances were at a premium with Brill continuing his great form with a brilliant save from Mason Bloomfield in the first half. The O’s were backed by a stable base in defence since Edinburgh’s arrival and should have nicked the points. Mooney saw a header brilliant saved by Mark Cousins but it ended all square.
A contrasting start to 2017 where Orient lost 4-0 away in Exeter, the signs were promising.
Boreham Wood at Brisbane Road next, the side that sit just over 20 miles away, could only bring 166 away fans just down the road. A poor show but their team on the pitch wasn’t, highlighting why Luke Garrard’s men were in the upper reaches of the league. Brill was on hand once more to keep Orient in a game denying Alex Davey from close range. Kieran Murtagh smashed the bar as Boreham Wood were right in the driving seat.
Given a rocket at half time, Orient were much better, Dayton should have scored but his shot from distance flew wide of the goal. Then the controversy, Mooney “collided” with Wood’s keeper, leaving Bonne to slot home but oh no, referee Samuel Allison blew for a foul, debatable to say the least. But another positive, back to back clean sheets for an O’s side who let letting goals in left, right and center early in the campaign.
Away from league action, Orient travelled to Bognor Regis in the second round of the FA Trophy. Another winnable tie in a competition where Wembley was in the offering, but Bognor were well up for the contest. A debut for on loan Norwich midfielder Ebou Adams, who saw the game play around him, as he looked far from match fit. Bognor were the better side in the first half with Brill the busier keeper but in the second half, the game changed. Bognor were reduced to ten men when Richard Gilot received a second yellow card.
Not to accept the advantage, Widdowson receive a second yellow too, ten men apiece but the O’s did take the lead when who else.. Bonne headed home from close range. The O’s were seeing a game out, well that was until a world class finish from Jimmy Muitt. The ball fell out to him and safe to say the best goal scored against us this season, he smashed in on the half volley. Extra time, where Josh Koroma curled Orient into round two, but safe to say, the O’s couldn’t scored a third to safe their lives. Anyway, round three awaits.
Back to Brisbane Road, where Aldershot Town were the visitors, a game where somehow the Orient managed to leave without even a point. The game had barely started when Bonne slotted Orient ahead then the barrage on the Shots goal. It barely seemed possible two months ago that Orient would be dominating against a top side but that is exactly what they were doing. Bonne, Holman and McAnuff all found Lewis Ward in magnificent form in the Shots goal. But, the sucker punch game when Shamir Fenlon levelled just before the break.
After being in relative control, a carbon copy to Hartlepool in September a goal just before the break and one straight after. James Rowe’s free kick smashed the bar before Will Evans slotted home the rebound. But Orient responded, when George Elokobi bicycle kicked the O’s level from a corner. A draw was about the right result but the impressive Brill who had earned points in the last month saw a shot fizz beneath him and hand Aldershot the win.
January ended with a Tuesday night trip to FC Halifax after the trip early in January was postponed due to an uncovered frozen pitch, don’t get me started on that one. Fox in the box, Bonne netted once more to put Orient ahead before the O’s again appeared to forget that Halifax had that very small, 6ft 8 center forward Tom Denton, who levelled.
But the O’s had been different under Edinburgh and Josh Koroma gave Orient a deserved half time lead. A game where Ebou Adams’s emergence came to the fore where the on loan Norwich midfielder “rolled down the A1 with three points”. Another positive performance and result, where Kent Teague highlighted his love for George Elokobi at the end of the game.
Five Games, one defeat, the positivity continues, Orient continued to climb and with a third round tie in the FA Trophy in February, could Orient end up at Wembley?