After the disappointment of the non-performance and defeat at Wimbledon the preceding Tuesday evening, we were all hoping that the O’s got back on track at Harrogate in the next league game. As I alluded to in last week’s post (Orient Nerd Weekly Ramblings – A disappointing week for the Orient, but with some very positive news for the future.), while as we know there are no guarantees in this division, facing a team languishing in the lower reaches of the table, having won just 3 of their 17 matches so far, provided a good opportunity to: put in a better team performance, bag all three points and steady the ship after its ever so slight wobble. Thankfully that is exactly what we managed to do.
The only changes to the team from the defeat at Wimbledon were Jordan Brown coming in at right-back again for the suspended Tom James; and George Moncur and Charlie Kelman replacing Ruel Sotiriou and Aaron Drinan respectively. The latter two being changes that most Orient fans had been calling for over recent weeks as, despite our excellent start to the season, concerns seem to be lingering over whether our attack is really firing on all cylinders just yet, an issue that we will return to later on.
Whether it was the impact of those changes we made at the top end of the team, or the relatively low quality of the opposition, or in all likelihood a combination of both, but the game was pretty much all wrapped up before we had even played the opening 25 minutes.
Paul Smyth’s header (yes you read that right: our first headed goal of the season scored by 5 ft 7 Paul Smyth!), followed swiftly by another successful penalty conversion by George Moncur after Smudge was felled by the goalkeeper, seemed to very much take the wind out of Harrogate’s sails. I remember Vigs making one decent stop right in front of the travelling faithful later in the half, but other than that we were comfortably in control of the match.
There really wasn’t very much in the way of goal-mouth, or any other action in the second period, as we continued to manage the game well and Harrogate struggled to raise any kind of threat. In the end we were full value for our victory, albeit with the added caveat that we perhaps should have scored more, an issue that Richie again raised in his post-match comments, stating after Dulcet Dave asked him whether he thought we should have scored more goals: “We probably should have. We just took that little extra touch, and our pass wasn’t right, we had a couple of occasions when we were through 1v1 in the second half, and we didn’t hit the target.”
As we have discussed in previous posts over the opening three and a half months of the season, despite winning 13 and drawing 3 of our opening 18 league matches and having scored the second most goals in the division with a total of 28 in the process, we still, (Paul Smyth who has 8 league goals to his credit very much aside), don’t seem to be converting our dominance into goals as much as we would all like.
While Smudge and Archie pretty much pick themselves in the wide positions, it is that central striking role where we don’t seem to have quite found the right option. Charlie Kelman started there at Harrogate, and while he worked tirelessly, as he always does, in harrying and pressing the home side’s defence, he wasn’t able to add to his total of 3 goals to date.
Aaron Drinan of course missed a proper pre-season as a result of injury but seems to be taking his time to get back to full match sharpness and has managed just 2 goals so far. Ruel Sotiriou seems to have fallen into the trap of neither the gaffer nor himself quite defining exactly what his best position is. Whilst Jayden Wareham looks like he has the poacher’s instinct that we are craving but is still very young and adjusting to senior league football.
I am sure from what he keeps saying that Richie has faith in all four of those options, and will no doubt be confident that the goals will come for them, however the nagging concern is that we will have days when the likes of Paul Smyth, Archie or George Moncur can’t find the breakthrough and it would be useful if we had more of a threat from our main striker.
Of course, waiting in the wings from January will be a certain Harry Smith, and it will be intriguing to see how he will feature in the gaffer’s plans for the second half of the season, if indeed he does. However, if we don’t see more of a contribution from our central options between now and the opening of the transfer window, I do wonder whether that might be an area that we perhaps look to strengthen? Remembering of course that two of our options are loanees. Ideally of course we would want all of those mentioned to start finding the back of the net with a bit more regularity.
Next up of course is another November road-trip to the very much in-form Stockport County tomorrow. The Hatters have won five of their last seven league matches and sit twelfth in the table 5 points off the top seven and 17 behind the O’s. While it won’t be easy and it is probably one of those matches where a draw would be a perfectly acceptable result, another victory on our travels would be the perfect way to sign off ahead of our FA Cup elimination-induced minibreak.
With an impeccable sense of timing, the missus and I are off to the World Cup, for a quite frankly mad five games in five days adventure, (immediately after we have finished watching the Stockport game on Orient TV of course!), so normal blog service will be resumed ahead of the visit of Bradford to Brisbane Road on the 3rd of December. Until then…
Up the O’s