Orient Nerd Weekly Ramblings- Whisper it quietly but we might well be on our way!

Despite the fact that we had to rely on a very late and fortunate own goal and a crucial and even later defensive intervention from Omar Beckles, Saturday’s win over Carlisle United felt like a massive step forward for the O’s in our quest to reach the promised land of League 1. The fact that (as we had all hoped!) Northampton and Stevenage drew, only augmented the importance of our first win since we beat Crawley at home in the middle of February.

As we all know, we went into the game on the back of nine games without defeat, although the fact that we had drawn the last four of those, each time failing to see out the result after taking the lead, had caused some consternation amongst the Orient faithful. It was starting to feel like we were making heavy work of our matches while, for the most part at least, other teams’ results were generally going our way.

In his programme notes ahead of the Carlisle game, gaffer Richie Wellens highlighted the fact that we had let winning positions slip as something the squad needed to improve upon, stating: “…we have become a hard team to beat again, but we have to be better at seeing out matches than we have been in recent weeks. Whilst it has been pleasing to take the lead in games, in our last four matches we have been pegged back and have been forced to settle for a point in each fixture. Earlier in the season we closed games out almost every time we took the lead, so it is up to us to find that ability again.”

Last Saturday’s victory was far from easy against a fairly obstinate Carlisle side who have promotion ambitions of their own of course, and we certainly looked a bit nervy in the opening period of the match, but all that mattered was that this time we found a way to get the job done. The reaction of a sold-out Brisbane Road at the final whistle provided a clear demonstration of the relief that we all felt. The only real downside was the sending off of Charlie Kelman for two yellow cards which will of course see the on-loan striker suspended for our next match.

After the match Richie was effusive in his praise for his charges, suggesting: “the players were outstanding”, it certainly helped that Carlisle came to try to play football rather than to stop us from playing our game, which allowed us the space we need to play the passing style that Richie has implemented so effectively since his arrival. As he went on to say in his interview our best performances this season have come when we have played good football.  

The two results between the top four teams means that we now hold a 7 point lead at the top of the table and an 11 point lead over fourth, and in both situations we have a game in hand. With just eight games to go (seriously, where has the season gone again?) our destiny remains very much in our own hands.

Far more mathematical minds than mine have had a stab at trying to predict where and when we might be able to secure promotion, or even the league title. Three more wins would put us on 86 points which, given the form of those chasing us, should/ could be sufficient to see us playing our football in League 1 in the next campaign. 

Next up of course are two matches over the Easter weekend: a trip to Salford City on Good Friday and the visit of Harrogate Town to Brisbane Road on Easter Monday. With Aaron Drinan reportedly carrying something of a hamstring injury and Charlie Kelman of course unavailable, might we see something of a different frontline at the Peninsula Stadium? Equally, with two matches coming in quick succession, the gaffer will undoubtedly need to rotate the squad and use it to its full strength.

Of the two Easter games the trip to Greater Manchester obviously looks the most testing with the Ammies nestled in the final play-off place and having won three and drawn two of their last six games; it feels very much like a game where a point away from home would be a decent result. However, given that we have developed something of a (faux?) “rivalry” with Peter Lim’s and the Class of 92’s media darlings, wouldn’t a statement performance and result at their place really taste sweet?

We should of course take nothing for granted with regard to the Harrogate game on Easter Monday, but a home game against a team languishing in 20th spot in the table, feels like one that we really should be taking maximum points from. We might not be able to secure promotion over the long weekend, but if we can emerge at the other end with a decent lead over fourth place (and second for that matter!) intact, that would be another huge step forward in the quest for what we all hope Richie and the lads can achieve to crown off what has been a thoroughly exciting and enthralling season thus far.

Up the O’s

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