Date: 26th February 2012 at 7:56pm
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Having picked up a point at Bury`s Gigg Lane yesterday, I sat this morning with a bacon sandwich and the Sunday papers looking at the current nPower League One table and also looking ahead to what lies ahead in the final fifteen games for Leyton Orient. After yesterday`s draw in Bury, Orient lie in 15th position of League One with thirty-nine points, ten away from the play-off positions and seven from the dreaded relegation zone.

Orient have fifteen games left of the 2011-12 season, with seven of those games being at home and eight on the road. What is rather interesting or worrying, depending on your view of the club, is the opposition we face in our final fifteen games. I would say that only Hartlepool away is a game against opposition who, at present, have nothing to play for. At present we have to face seven of League One`s top nine clubs and seven of League One`s bottom nine clubs. All fourteen sides will be fighting for their lives, either for automatic promotion or to seal survival in the third tier for another season. This is one of the reason`s I believe Orient`s season hangs in the balance at present.

I hate to be negative about the club I love but Orient have to overturn their home form in the coming seven home games. We start those seven home fixtures with Walsall, the league`s draw specialists. Walsall come to Orient on the back of another draw, this time a 0-0 at Preston North End and sit just above the dreaded dotted line on thirty two points, seven less than Orient`s current total.

Our next three home games see us face Brentford, Sheffield Wednesday and Notts County visiting the East End. For Sheffield Wednesday, automatic promotion will be in their sights after a 1-0 victory over Steel City rivals United, whilst Brentford and Notts County are still in the hunt for the play-offs as they sit three and two points off sixth, the final play-off place.

Our last two home games of the season see us face Yeovil Town and Rochdale, both currently in the bottom seven of League One. Of course the table will change immensely by the time the Glovers and Dale come to Orient but I`d imagine both will still be in need of points to secure their status as League One clubs.

Away from home is just as difficult, possibly more difficult despite our fantastic form on the road. Our next two away games see us face Wycombe Wanderers, who had a fantastic 5-0 win against Hartlepool United at the weekend, and Tranmere Rovers. Both sides are in a relegation scrap, especially Tranmere who have won just one in nineteen league games.

We then face Milton Keynes Dons, a side with such talent as Alan Smith and Dean Lewington within their ranks. Not only that but Dons have turned their Stadium:MK into something of a fortress as they`ve lost just one league game their all season. We then face two away games in a week, a long midweek trip to Oldham Athletic followed by a trip across London to face Charlton Athletic. Oldham are just a point worse off than us and could be sucked into a relegation dogfight should they lose a couple of games on the trot. Charlton are streets ahead of everyone else in League One and that is reflected in their home form as they`re unbeaten at The Valley.

We then make a trip to Exeter City followed by Sheffield United. Exeter have been similar to Orient this season, however the opposite way. Exeter have won six and drew five of their eleven home games but have picked up just two wins away from Devon. Sheffield United are another side well in the promotion race and have won the most games at home out of anyone in the league with twelve victories at Bramall Lane. Our final game on the road is Hartlepool, the game I picked out as having nothing to play for.

I hear some of you bring up the myth that we raise our game against “better” sides in the division and struggle against the “lower” opposition provided in League One. In one way, that is correct. We do raise our performance levels against the better opposition in this league but looking at the facts, we`ve taken nine points off the current top seven in League One in nine games. In comparison with the bottom seven sides, where we have taken eleven points from nine games against the bottom seven.

Looking at our playing squad, we`ve lost our two best players and seen a number not perform to the expected level by us fans and a number of others suffer injuries. Losing captain Stephen Dawson, our engine has probably hit us hard and Matt Spring has to step up to the plate, something he seems to have relished. Losing Charlie Daniels to Bournemouth was another blow and we`ve had to survive on the loans of Adam Chicksen and now Ryan Dickson. Both have done a job down the left side but losing Daniels has affected the harmony down that left side.

I mentioned players not performing and largely those who are misfiring are our forwards. Jamie Cureton come in with hefty expectancy on his shoulders and let`s be honest, he hasn`t lived up to that expectancy. One goal from a man who scored twenty last season for Exeter City has been a poor return from the former goal machine, Kevin Lisbie come in and looked to be an inspired signing by Russell Slade but recently his form has dipped and he`s only scored one goal since mid-December, David Mooney has been a sort of Marmite player, where some fans rate him and the other half don`t and Jonathan Téhoué missed three months through a broken arm but giving credit to him, he`s played 90 and 75 minutes in the last two games, however, the big Frenchman left the pitch yesterday with a dead leg.

Our fans have put a lot of reliance on young George Porter as well. The twenty year old, who’s in his first full season in League Football (after spending last year on loan at Lewes and Hastings), has won himself a lot of admirers at Brisbane Road and whenever the chips are down there is always a proportion our crowd venting their spleen to get Porter on. Is he as good as people make out? I’m not so sure. He offers brief flashes of talent, however, not enough to warrant a regular appearance. After all, he’s only twenty and a lot of Orient fans have placed a lot of weight on young George’s shoulders.

Injuries have really cursed us this season. We`re currently on goalkeeper number five and have seen a number of first team players suffer injuries. The likes of Dean Cox, Jamie Jones, Lee Butcher, Ben Chorley, Jonathan Téhoué and the departed Stephen Dawson have all suffered injuries this season.

Its been a disjointed season for us this season and these fifteen games are all incredibly vital. However, a win against Walsall next Saturday followed by a win at Tranmere could see this article become void and everything could well be rosy in the garden of Orient.