Orient Nerd Weekly Ramblings – Should the Orient faithful now start to believe?

One of the things that I have noticed about the O’s astonishing start to the season, is it feels like the stakes are higher for every match we play. In many ways, as I touched on in last week’s post (Orient Nerd Weekly Ramblings – Orient back in action and looking to keep up the promotion charge.), it is a case of us supporters starting to realise that things have changed for Orient, and we really ought to be getting to grips with a new reality. Instead of wondering where the next goal or point would come from in the dark days of last winter, we are now having to shift our paradigm with regard to the O’s prospects for this season.

The fact that not only are we among the favourites (or indeed the favourite!) for automatic promotion, but also that in all reality we are the team most likely to be atop the table come the end of the season, challenges our usual self-protection mechanisms. Yet I for one can’t yet feel completely comfortable in believing that it looks almost inevitable that we will be playing our football in the third tier next season; and will have quite probably secured only the fourth league title in our history. Quite how I expect we are going to throw this all away remains a mystery however!

This new way of looking at all things Orient brings with it an added tension to the matches we play, last Saturday’s game against Bradford being very much a case in point. In the week leading up to the game, I remember thinking that things had been going too smoothly, that Bradford managed by a certain Mark Hughes and featuring League 2’s leading goal scorer Andy Cook, would be a tough test and that escaping with a result would be nothing to complain about. Being brutally honest, I was worried that we might get turned over and a defeat might signal a shattering of our illusions of potential success.

For the opening 10 to 15 minutes or so of the match I felt my fear could turn into reality, but then, as they seem to have done on the relatively rare occasions that we have been up against it this campaign, the O’s got a grip of the match. Just past the midway point of the first half, Archie slipped Charlie Kelman through, albeit with a large hint of offside, and the on-loan QPR man did the rest as he rounded the keeper and slotted that ball home. That was his first goal since the 4-2 victory over Hartlepool at the end of August, and will hopefully give him the boost going forward that his work rate and attitude fully deserve.       

The second goal just past the half hour mark was quite simply a thing of footballing beauty. I remember Tom James standing all alone on the edge of the area as we prepared to take a corner, and said to the missus I wondered if we might be trying a set play? Certainly, the Bradford defenders didn’t seem to have spotted him, or if they had didn’t realise the threat we all know he carries from distance and simply ignored him. When George Moncur played the ball to him, TJ took a touch to set himself and then produced a magical curling effort with his left foot that left the Bradford keeper clutching at fresh air. Going in at the break Orient seemed to have very much taken the wind out of Bradford’s sails and were comfortably in control, which it has to be said did quite a lot to quell my nerves.

The second half was one in which we looked fully in control of the match, the only real question being whether we could add to our total of goals scored. The fact that it took us all the way up to the 84th minute to get our third thanks to Ruel Sotiriou, another player who will no doubt benefit from having found the back of the net again, felt less about the visitors frustrating us and more about us controlling the pace of the game and keeping Bradford where we wanted them.  The win boosted our safety net to fourth place to 14 points and even the most deeply pessimistic of Orient fans might suggest that is a very handy cushion to have.

After the match Richie described it as: “a good win against an opponent that will be right amongst it at the end of the season”, difficult to disagree and it must have felt extra special coming at the end of a week in which his contract extension had finally been announced, and against a legend from his boyhood club. The gaffer also took the opportunity to gee us up as fans, saying: “one thing I will say is that I think the supporters got a little bit comfortable today and that shows how far we’ve come.” As he then went on to say there are going to be times going forward when the players will need to know we are behind them, and for us to give them a lift, our growing belief in how this squad is evolving should help with that!

Next up of course was supposed to be a trip to Crewe, in which another potential 3 points far outweighed in importance any notion of seeking revenge for our FA Cup defeat. The missus and I were supposed to be staying over with my cousin and his partner who are fairly local to Crewe and wanted to come along to see what the mighty O’s are all about. Sadly, the current snap of freezing weather has put paid to that with the match being postponed just this morning. Maybe they might fancy a trip to Prenton Park at the end of January in recompense. If the O’s are still flying high at the top of the table at that point, then I think all of us might start to believe that our future is looking very bright!

Up the O’s

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