Date: 27th February 2011 at 4:58pm
Written by:

There is something very special about this Leyton Orient team. Many times on Saturday against a very good Huddersfield side we looked down and out. At 2-0 down and even at 2-1, when we then went down to 10 men. But the O`s have got the habit of not knowing when they are beaten. Yesterday was no different as we battled back for a fantastic 2-2 draw.

Goals from Jordan Rhodes and Lee Novak look to have put the hosts on course for a comfortable win but sub Harry Kane and Jimmy Smith somehow clawed back a point for the O’s and kept our fantastic record of one loss in 22 going!

After his cup heroics against Arsenal Jonathan Tehoue started upfront, with Revell dropping to the right wing in the usual 4-5-1 away formation.

Whilst I can understand Russell Slade’s thinking on starting Tehoue, could you really not reward him a start after Sunday? But I think yesterday once again proved he is a lot more deadly coming off the bench.

I was also pleased to see Tommy Carroll starting, with Chambers, Spring and Crowe missing due to injury. I was hugely impressed with the youngsters’ second-half showing against Arsenal from the heart of midfield.

Despite our incredible recent form the O’s started badly against Huddersfield, going behind after only two minutes.

There was an element of fortune in the goal for the Terriers, the referee assisting the home side when Tehoue’s pass rebounded off the official. Huddersfield took advantage, Lee Peltier and Benik Afobe combining before finding Rhodes for a simple finish. It was hardly the start Orient would have wanted against a team sitting third and pushing for automatic promotion.

The afternoon got worse when captain Stephen Dawson suffered a serious knee injury after only 20 minutes of the match. Dawson had to be replaced with Harry Kane as Slade’s midfield concerns continue.

Hopefully his injury is not too serious as Dawson is key to driving the O’s midfield forward and it would be a terrible shame if he missed Wednesday night, a game he deserves to be a part of.

Huddersfield went on to dominate the first-half, Benik Afobe in particular causing many problems in attack. Whilst I would have expected Huddersfield to have more of the play in front of their home fans, Orient not having one shot near the Terriers goal shows just how dominate the home side were.

Paul-Jose Mpoku was introduced at half-time by Slade, allowing us to change to a more attacking 4-4-2 formation.

But any half-time reshuffling seemed to have no effect, as Huddersfield doubled their lead straight after the break. Anthony Pilkington crossed for Novak to fire past Jamie Jones in the O’s goal.

It seemed to put the game beyond the O’s. Even though it was only 2-0, the match stats seemed to back up the thought that the three points were gone and the O’s would slump to only their second loss in 22.

But one of the most impressive points to the O’s season so far has been the never say die attitude, the team always seem to fight together whoever the opposition.

Orient got the valuable lifeline in the 73rd minute thanks to Kane. Dean Cox’s cross was glanced home by Kane at the near post. Cox’s fantastic delivery always provides the O’s with an outlet and that again proved vital.

But, before things got any better, Orient were dealt a slightly unfair blow. Kane, already on a yellow card, clipped Huddersfield’s Pilkington and the ref showed Harry his second yellow and a early exit. It looked slightly harsh and it is disappointing for the young striker.

Now with only ten men and minutes remaining the task looked even harder for Orient.

I am not sure whether we really deserved it for the performance on the day but team spirit and the belief within the group of players once again proved vital as Jimmy Smith rose highest to head home with only two minutes of normal time remaining.

Mpoku was fouled on the left and from the resulting free kick, Cox whipped in another trademark delivery onto the head of Smith.

How Smith is suddenly scoring so many goals (especially with his head) I am not sure, but his license to push forward and cut inside from the right is adding another dimension to Orient’s attack this season.

It was hard to believe that Orient have battled back to gain another fantastic point against a dominant Huddersfield side (who will definitely feel angry that they let such a comfortable lead slide).

And whilst we should feel slightly annoyed to put ourselves in the position of going two down, the point maintains our mid-table position and keeps the outside push for the play-offs going.

Full credit should go to the players and especially Russell Slade. To say I have been impressed with our manager would be an understatement. His enthusiam, tactical awareness and the spirit he has installed amongst the players is sublime.

Yesterday was just another example of how far Orient have come under Slade.

The Teams:

Huddersfield: Bennett; Hunt, McCombe, Clarke, Jordan; Roberts (Arfield 29), Kilbane, Peltier, Pilkington; Afobe (Lee 84), Rhodes (Novak 46)

Leyton Orient: Jones; Whing, Forbes, Chorley, Daniels (Omozusi 75); Carroll; Revell, Smith, Dawson (Kane 19), Cox; Téhoué (Mpoku 46)
Russell Slade told leytonorient.com:
‘Full credit to the players, the spirit was magnificent again.

‘I don’t believe we should have put ourselves in that situation in the first place to be honest. It was an horrendous start for us for the first five or ten minutes.

‘But to be fair to the lads, they’ve galvanised themselves and even when we went down to ten, we were getting more of the ball than Huddersfield.

‘They failed to finish us off and we got something by staying in the game.’

Were you impressed with the O’s fightback? Leave your comments below…

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