Tomorrow evening sees us play the first of a double-header against the teams promoted from the National League last season with a trip to Leyton Orient.
So far this season, they have beaten Cheltenham Town and Mansfield Town, have drawn with Stevenage, Salford City and Exeter City and have been beaten by Macclesfield Town, Crawley Town and Swindon Town. In the cups, they lost to Plymouth Argyle in the EFL Cup while they beat Southend United in the first group game in their EFL Trophy group that also contains AFC Wimbledon and Brighton & Hove Albion’s Under-21 team.
Over the summer, Orient have signed 5 players over the summer, 4 of which are permanent signings and 1 half-season loan and let 7 leave the club. Joining the club are midfielders Josh Wright and George Marsh (on loan until January) and forwards Lee Angol, Conor Wilkinson and Louis Dennis.
Looking back in the archives, the two teams have met 30 times with Leyton Orient leading the head-to-head with 12 wins to 9 with 9 draws. Crewe’s biggest win came in a 3-0 victory at the Alexandra Stadium in December 1994 while Leyton Orient’s biggest win came at the same ground in January 2007 with a 4-0 win. The last season that the two sides met in the league was the 2016/17 season with Crewe doing the double, a 2-0 win at Brisbane Road in October before a 3-0 win in South Cheshire.
Who are the officials for the game?
The officials for this game see Josh Smith as the man in the middle where he is assisted by Andrew Laver and Adrian Tranter with Michael Webb being the fourth official. We have yet to be refereed by Smith as it is his first season as a Football League referee.
I asked Leyton Orient supporter Brendan Pitcher for his thoughts going into the game.
How would you describe your transfer activity this summer?
We didn’t have a massive overhaul in terms of numbers, but we did lose two of our key attacking talents from last season in Josh Koroma and Macauley Bonne. We’ve replaced them with Lee Angol, Conor Wilkinson and Louis Dennis. Angol looks to be the pick of the bunch so far, in terms of his hold up play and first touch, he seems to be an upgrade on Bonne from what I’ve seen so far. We do seem to be missing the unpredictability that Koroma brought to our play last season, but hopefully, now Dennis is settled in and fully match fit, he can step up and fill that void.
Which position is the one that you should improve the most from the squad you currently have?
If you asked this question to a lot of other fans, I’m fairly sure they’d say right back. Sam Ling has started every league game there this season and due to him being the son of our Director of Football Martin Ling, he seems to be an easy target for criticism with accusations of nepotism being cited. However, in my view, he’s stepped up to the plate well this season and despite not being the most technically gifted player, he does an adequate job at full-back. Personally though, I’d go with central midfield, although Josh Wright has come in and done well, we do seem to lack someone that can take the game by the scruff of the neck from that area. George Marsh, a young midfielder on loan from Spurs, made his first league start for us on Saturday and looked excellent to be fair to him, so here’s hoping he can continue that kind of form.
What do you think the team will be for the game?
We’ve frequently switched between a back four and five this season, as Ross Embleton seeks the right balance between attack and defence. He lined us up in a 4-3-3 on Saturday against Exeter, which seemed a good fit and led to us looking more compact and harder to break down. In terms of personnel, I can’t imagine there’ll be a great deal of change from Saturday. Craig Clay might come in for Dale Gorman, whilst James Brophy – arguably our standout player so far this season – missed the Exeter match with a knock, if he is available for selection tomorrow expect him to come back in.
Ling Ekpiteta Coulson Widdowson
Clay Marsh Wright
Brophy Angol Dennis
How would you set-up to nullify your team?
I’d have a real go at us. Swindon were the most impressive team I’ve seen at Brisbane Road since we came up against Chris Wilder’s Northampton side. From the opening minutes, they had us pinned inside our own half and exposed our soft underbelly, taking a three-goal lead within the first 45. In contrast, I feel like in our opening game Cheltenham showed us too much respect and dropped off too much. This allowed us to grow into the game and, as a result, nick a winning goal in the second half.
Who is the danger man for this game?
Lee Angol looks a class above this level to be honest. His ability to bring high balls down and under control is astonishing and crucial to us as an attacking force. If James Brophy returns, expect him to cause problems with his direct running. He can at times leaves fans frustrated with his final ball, but he is one of the only players that can get us up the pitch quickly.
What do you think is a realistic aim for Orient this season?
Our owner, Kent Teague, stated a couple of weeks ago that he’s aiming for 7th place, as that’s in line with our current budget compared to the rest of the clubs in the division. However, my prediction was a more modest 14th. Given the tragic events over the summer, I’d be more than content with a comfortable mid-table finish and possibly a small F.A Cup run that sees us come up against a Premier League side.