Well that was intense wasn’t it? Doncaster proved to be a tough nut to crack at Brisbane Road last Saturday, but most importantly we got there in the end thanks to a wonder strike, and another contender in the increasingly crowded list of nominations for Orient’s goal of the season, from Archie.
As we are now into the second half of the campaign, we should probably expect many more contests like this. Of course, we want to see the O’s put on a display and entertain the growing crowds watching us every time we play; but all that really matters from here on in is the number of points we pick up towards our ultimate goal of promotion. Personally, I am just hoping that my nerves will stand up to it, I can’t have been the only one that felt slightly emotionally drained at the end of the game.
Going into the match the biggest concern was which two players were going to fill the centre back spots in place of the injured Dan Happe and Shad Ogie and of course the suspended Omar Beckles. As it turned out it was Jordan Brown partnering the returning to fitness Adam Thompson in the heart of our defence and I have to say that I thought Brown in particular, obviously benefiting from having an experienced defender by his side in Thompson, was excellent throughout the entire match. While we do (probably) need to recruit another central defensive player, it will be more than useful if Richie has another reliable option to call upon if needed.
The game itself was another cagey affair from the start with the O’s dominating possession in the first half but struggling to break down a resolute defence. A familiar story? The only real chance I recall from Orient in the first half was a long range effort from Archie from the edge of the area that was comfortably gathered by Mitchell in the Rovers goal. To be fair however there wasn’t too much to trouble Vigs in our net either.
After half-time, as the game wore on I started to fret that we wouldn’t find the breakthrough and would be left rueing another goalless draw and more dropped points. Worse still what if Doncaster nicked one and condemned us to a second successive league defeat for the first time this season?
Thankfully Archie came to the rescue with a sublime strike with just over 20 minutes to go. From a long Tom James throw we tried to keep the ball alive in the penalty area through first Pratley and then Brown, until it was cleared towards Archie. The silky Scotsman controlled the ball on his thigh with an excellent touch before unleashing a stinging, dipping, left foot volley that left Mitchell back-pedalling desperately and ultimately clutching at thin air as he fell backwards into the net. It was a stunning strike, one that as the cliché goes, was more than worth the entrance fee alone.
Almost immediately after Archie’s effort hit the back of the net, a flock of parakeets invaded Brisbane Road either seeking shelter from the swirling wind and rain, or as some kind of surreal celebration. It brought back memories of a game in the dark days of last season, at home to Port Vale I think, in which the height of entertainment was a fox running onto the pitch and dashing up the wing quicker than any O’s player managed all day accompanied by a previous visit by a smaller flock of the tropical birds.
In the end it was job done for the O’s and Richie suggested: “I spoke to them [the players] before the game and usually I’m quite performance-orientated, but today I just said I don’t care, I don’t care how we play, get it in areas, put it on them…we just want a result.”
Echoing the gaffer’s comments, with 21 games to go, it feels very much as if we are in one game at a time territory for the rest of the campaign. Our scarcely believable start, combined with Bradford losing at home to Rochdale on Tuesday night, means the safety net to fourth place is a very reassuring 17 points, albeit having played a game more. All we can do is concentrate on the next one, in this case Barrow at home tomorrow afternoon, focus on doing our job, ideally adding another 3 points, before we zero in on the trip to second-placed Stevenage next week.
Speaking of the visit of Barrow, the Bluebirds sit just behind but level on points with Carlisle and Bradford in sixth place, so this is by no means a foregone conclusion. In fact, it feels like another match where we might have to dig in and scrape out another victory. The squad has shown us throughout the season, for the most part, that they can rise to the challenge of an obstinate team, here’s hoping we can do so again. We can only wonder what wildlife display we might be treated to in E10 come tomorrow afternoon, on that note has anyone got David Attenborough’s number just in case?
Up the O’s
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