Leyton Orient v Aldershot Town – Match Preview – Saturday 27 January 2018
Aldershot Town’s goalless draw at home to Ebbsfleet United last weekend was enough to keep them in second place in the National League and, with leaders Macclesfield Town crushed 6-0 by AFC Fylde, The Shots actually cut the Silkmen’s lead to just three points. On Saturday, Town head to Brisbane Road for the first time in the ‘new’ club’s history, to take on a rejuvenated Leyton Orient.
Rob Worrall previews the action…
The Shots will once again be without injured skipper Callum Reynolds, who remains side-lined. James Blanchfield returned to Ipswich Town from his loan spell a week early, following an injury sustained in training. Fabien Robert, back on loan from Forest Green Rovers until the end of the season, continues to build fitness and is expected to be available again in the next couple of weeks. Nick Arnold continues to progress well from his long-term knee injury.
Opposition – Leyton Orient FC:
Founded: 1881 (as Eagle Cricket Club)
Nickname: The O’s
Ground: The Matchroom Stadium, Brisbane Road
Head Coach: Justin Edinburgh
As recently as 2013–14, all appeared well at Leyton Orient. They finished third in League One, and beat Peterborough United to advance to the Play-Off Final at Wembley, only to lose in the Final to Rotherham United via a penalty shoot-out. The 2014–15 season saw a reversal of fortunes for Orient, after the club was taken over by Italian businessman Francesco Becchetti. A disastrous second-half of the season meant that Orient were relegated from League One after a 2–2 draw at Swindon Town on the final day. Manager Fabio Liverani, with only eight wins in twenty-seven matches, left the club by mutual consent in May 2015.
The O’s finished just outside a League Two Play-Off place in 2015–16, but slumped disastrously last season under five different managers and off-pitch turmoil, including a winding-up hearing against Becchetti for unpaid taxes. On 22nd April 2017, Orient were relegated to the Vanarama National League, ending their 112-year stay in the Football League. Under new owner Nigel Travis, the club survived to take its place in the National League this season.
Justin Edinburgh played more than 200 games as a left-back for Tottenham Hotspur, as well as having spells with Southend United and Portsmouth. He ended his playing career at Billericay, the club at which he also began his managerial career 15 years ago. Following appointments at Fisher Athletic, Grays Athletic and Rushden & Diamonds, Edinburgh then took Newport County back to the Football League via the Play-Offs in 2013. Having established County’s place in League Two, Edinburgh left for League One Gillingham in February 2015 and, in his second season with The Gills, guided them to second place at Christmas, only for them to eventually finish ninth. He was sacked midway through the following season and out of work for just ten days, before being appointed Northampton Town manager, a spell that lasted just seven months. He was sacked on 31st August 2017 and took the manager’s job at Leyton Orient in November 2017, following the termination of Steve Davis’s contract.
Just nine players remained at Brisbane Road from last season – including two goalkeepers. Former manager Davis recruited well, with some notable signings: Macauley Bonne (Colchester United) is the O’s top scorer this term with fourteen; David Mooney (Southend United) who returned for a second spell with The O’s. Full-backs Jake Caprice (Woking) and Joe Widdowson (Dagenham & Redbridge) came with National League experience, whilst new centre-backs George Elokobi (Colchester United), Jamie Sendles-White (Swindon Town) and Josh Coulson (Cambridge United) have all dropped down from League Two. Amongst others, Charlie Lee (Stevenage) and Alex Lawless (Yeovil Town) have also dropped down from the Football League to strengthen the O’s midfield ranks, where they were joined by Craig Clay (Motherwell). More recently, Edinburgh has brought in the likes of former Shots loanee Dan Holman, as well as the loan signings of defender Bondz N’Gala (Dagenham & Redbridge), winger Lamar Reynolds (Newport County) and midfielder Ebou Adams (Norwich City).
The O’s began life in non-league well, winning five of their opening eight fixtures, and were among the early pacesetters. However, a run of fifteen league games without a win saw them plummet to within a couple of places of the relegation zone and led to the inevitable sacking of Davis. Edinburgh’s first game in charge also ended in defeat, but a succession of wins followed and the O’s new boss has lost just two of his first nine games in all competitions.
Aldershot Town’s only match against Leyton Orient to date was the 2-2 draw at The EBB Stadium back in September. The Shots got off to a blistering start and were 2-0 up after twenty minutes, thanks to Cheye Alexander and Matt McClure. However, the O’s fought back strongly and goals from Clay and Romuald Boco ensured that they left with a hard-earned point.
Aldershot FC and Leyton Orient met on forty-eight occasions, with The Shots having the slightly better record, with eighteen victories, fourteen losses and sixteen draws. The first ever meeting between the two clubs was in November 1932, with Aldershot running out 4-0 winners. The following season, The O’s more than exacted revenge, with a 9-2 victory at Brisbane Road. The Shots romped to a high goal-scoring away victory themselves in February 1950, winning 7-2, but in March 1956, in what would be the last meeting between the two sides for almost twenty-eight years, The O’s prevailed 8-3.
Saturday’s referee is Peter Wright, who has taken charge of 16 National League matches so far this season, showing 48 yellow cards and two red cards to date. He refereed Aldershot Town’s 1-1 home draw with Dagenham & Redbridge this season, sending off Jake Gallagher for The Shots.
BBC Surrey Sports Rob Worrall and a special guest summariser will be covering the game live on Saturday afternoon. Tune in to the BBC Sport website (or the BBC Sport App) from 2.50pm for full match commentary. To interact with them, tweet @RobShot66.