It was bittersweet day for Leyton Orient as they made their return to the Football League without the man who guided them there. Orient edged out Cheltenham Town on an emotional day at Brisbane Road, thanks to Josh Wright’s 70th minute winner.
The performance was a fitting tribute to their late manager, as it involved a huge amount of fortitude and character, as well as some tidy passing football.
The O’s dominated much of the possession but hardly threatened the Robins’ goal until Josh Wright tapped in from close range in the 70th minute, It was certainly apt that Wright got the goal, due to being Justin Edinburgh’s last signing and also a close personal friend of not only Justin but his whole family.
Two red cards immediately followed Wright’s opener with Luke Varney receiving a second yellow for an elbow and Rohan Ince seeing a straight red for showing dissent towards the fourth official.
Cheltenham being down to nine men made the last twenty minutes something of a non event but in truth even before the dismissals, Orient were good value for the three points and when referee Michael Salisbury blew the full time whistle you could clearly see the enormity of what that result meant to the O’s squad as Josh Coulson, James Brophy and Josh Wright embraced near the centre circle.
Dean Brill N/A – Having appeared in every single one of Orient’s games last season, Brill has been struggling with a niggling shoulder problem throughout pre-season. Though he did come off in the 12th minute, it was confirmed that it was due to a concussion rather than a reoccurrence of that shoulder injury.
Sam Ling 7 – Ling has had his doubters at Brisbane Road over the last 18 months but he produced one of his best displays in an O’s shirt against Cheltenham. Defensively he looked solid and going forward he produced some moments of quality, including a couple of decent balls in.
Marvin Ekpiteta 5.5 – Nerves are to be expected when you’re making your first appearance in the Football League but Ekpiteta let those nerves get the better of him in the first half. Luckily an improved second half performance made up for a shaky spell in the first half where he was caught out of possession a couple of times and made some loose passes.
Josh Coulson 6.5 – Orient’s newly appointed first team captain put in a good shift in this one. Always reliable at the back, Coulson would have scored a trademark header from a corner were it not for a wonder save from Scott Flinders.
Dan Happe 7 – Happe continues to look a class act for the O’s, he always carries out his defensive duties efficiently, but his ability on the ball is what really stands out and that was no different once again today.
James Brophy 6.5 – Filled in admirably for the injured Widdowson, looked a threat going forward even though his deliveries were often too close to the keeper.
Craig Clay 6.5 – Carried on from where he left off last season, always busy, always organising, and always giving one hundred per cent.
Josh Wright 7.5 – A fitting and deserving goal scorer, he recycled the ball well and made a couple of impressive cross field passes. His goal came as a result of him arriving late in the box, something that he did throughout the game and a trait that Orient were definitely lacking in their central midfielders last season.
Jordan Maguire-Drew 6 – A slightly underwhelming performance from Maguire-Drew given the hype that’s surrounded him in the off season. Looked a little bit lightweight at times, but credit to him for always being determined to win the ball back when he did lose it.
Conor Wilkinson 6.5 – Didn’t win as many headers as you’d expect from a 6”3 striker but you can’t fault his work rate. Was often seen in the opposition half tracking back, which shows suggestions of laziness at previous clubs seem to be way off the mark.
Lee Angol 6.5 – Looks a real talent, showed some nice touches and great technique to bring the ball out of the air a number of times. The end product wasn’t there today but that’ll come and it was a promising debut for the former Peterborough man.
Sam Sargeant 6 – Don’t remember him having to make a save of any significance after coming on, his kicking looked a little ropey in the first half but improved in the second.
James Alabi 6.5 – The removal of Alabi from the transfer list was one of the surprises of the summer and the fact that he got the nod here over Matt Harrold shows the faith Ross Embleton must have him in. Looked a handful as usual; also looked a touch clumsy as usual. Unlucky not to score after being denied by Flinders at close range.
Louis Dennis N/A – Didn’t touch the ball after coming on late in stoppage time, nevertheless good to see him in an Orient shirt.
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