In what is an absolutely pivotal run of three games in a week, Orient are over the first two hurdles and just about continue to hold their fate in their own hands. Going into these games having won just one of their previous five league games since the turn of the year, it was absolutely vital that the O’s got back to winning ways and secured maximum points, if they were to keep alive their push for the one automatic promotion place.
First up was a trip to Havant & Waterlooville, battling for survival just above the drop zone. In the end Orient did just about enough at the lowly Hawks to secure their first away league win of 2019. After taking the lead thanks to a stunning looping effort from fully 30 yards from winger Jordan Maguire-Drew, the O’s let the hosts back into the match with an equalizer midway through the second half. Minutes later however up popped Josh Coulson, just back from injury, to meet Ling’s long throw in with a flicked header that sealed all three points. At this stage of the season style largely goes out of the window and results and points in the bag are all that matter.
Then came the away trip to Barrow, I have to confess to feeling far from confident going into this one, maybe it was the inherent pessimism that comes with following Orient, but a long away trip to Cumbria on a wet Tuesday evening in March, seemed to have disaster written all over it. However the O’s seem to have (hopefully!) re-found their mojo and Sam Ling’s first ever goal for the club, Jay Simpson’s first since re-signing and a second in two matches from Maguire-Drew saw them take a grip of the game and the vital three points. However Orient being Orient they had to go and make things ‘exciting’ and concede two goals in the final twenty minutes.
Those two key away wins now see Orient sit second in the table, two points behind leaders Wrexham with a game in hand and with the Dragons due at Brisbane Road this Saturday lunchtime. That game probably won’t decide the destination of the title and the sole automatic promotion place but a victory for the O’s would put them very much back in the driving seat with just ten games to go.
Orient fans will be twitching going into that game with memories still fresh of the debacle against Salford early in January and given the O’s less than stellar track record in televised games. Certainly Mrs Football Nerd and I are already thrown somewhat out of kilter by the 12:35 kick off and the impact that is likely to have on our usual routine, specifically whether before noon is too early to go for a pre-match pint to calm the nerves!
Already having beaten Wrexham twice this season both times away from home, Orient should fancy their chances, but anyone who supports Orient knows that this club has an undeniable penchant for eschewing the easy way of doing things and finding a harder way. At the back of my mind is the very real nagging fear that the potential route for a return to the promised land of the Football League lies through the lottery of the play-offs and a return to Wembley where memories are still fresh of the traumatic story of five years ago.
However those fears are perhaps best left to one side this weekend, maybe just for once our team will surprise and do what is required, win the game, reclaim top spot and make us all believe that the future is not only bright but is in our own hands!