Orient clocked up their eighth away victory in League Two with victory over play-off chasing Wrexham at the Racecourse Stadium. Although Orient were never at their fluent best and had to withstand periods of heavy pressure, the O’s battled to another three points and in the process managed to close the gap on the top three.
Martin Ling kept faith with the same side that lost to Northampton last weekend after Craig Easton failed a late fitness test. Wrexham started the brighter of the two sides but with their first real attack, Orient took the lead. With just 4 minutes on the clock Michael Simpson found Justin Miller in space on the right hand side. The O’s right back swept the ball into the area where Alexander managed to divert the ball past Ingham and into the Wrexham net.
Though they took an early lead, Orient were unable to stamp their authority on the game and Wrexham took charge of the midfield retaining possession far too easily. Despite having most of the ball, the Welsh side failed to break Orient down though Mark Jones fired inches wide when well placed.
Orient were standing firm with John Mackie in inspired form once again, and came into the game more as time went on. Shane Tudor, who was a thorn in Wrexham’s side all afternoon, was causing the hosts all sorts of problems, and the strength and pace of Alexander and Ibehre in attack seemed to frighten the life out of the Wrexham rearguard.
Orient’s goal threat seemed to increase as half-time neared, and Ingham did well to tip over a rasping shot from Alexander. However, Orient didn’t have to wait too long to increase their lead as Simon Spender decided to stick his arm in front of Justin Miller’s cross to concede a penalty. With a chance to take a 2-0 lead into half time, Orient weren’t about to throw it away, and Matt Lockwood duly converted from 12 yards.
Orient had to reshuffle after half time as Brian Saah replaced Gaby Zakuani at the heart of the O’s defence after the Congolese defender failed to recover from a knock he picked up, having collided with Garner earlier in the match. Orient started brightly and Jabo Ibehre wasted a great chance to put the game beyond doubt when he fired wastefully wide when in on goal.
Wrexham started to up the tempo in search of a goal to stir a comeback, but Danny Williams fired wide after Garner had misjudged a cross into the Orient area. Having failed to score, Wrexham were lucky not find themselves even further behind as Alexander burst into the box only to be denied by a fine save from Ingham once again.
Wrexham were now leaving large gaps at the back as they sought to get back into the match, and it was only due to a fabulous Garner save that they were to be denied. Jon Walters headed towards goal from point blank range, but the O’s stopper somehow managed to parry the ball away to safety. Mark Jones was the next to try his luck but once again Garner was equal to the task. The only way Wrexham looked likely to score was if they were awarded a penalty, and lo and behold that’s what happened.
With 9 minutes to go, Gary Alexander was very harshly adjudged to have fouled Danny Williams inside the box. It didn’t look like a penalty, but having already given Orient a spot kick earlier, Referee Moss was always likely to compensate the home side. Dean Bennett took it, but yet again, Glyn Garner pulled off a fine save diving low to his left and holding on to the ball.
To their credit Wrexham kept going but Orient continued to battle and pose a threat on the break. Yet, Orient’s defence was eventually broken when Bennett atoned for his penalty miss by poking home after Garner had superbly saved from Jones on two occassions.
With three minutes of injury time to negotiate, Orient looked pretty comfortable and once again managed to eke out a very important away victory.
O’s Bounce Back Again
Martin Ling always backs his players to bounce back, and once again his players responded as they have all season, with a victory. Ling will be relieved that Orient have a run of games away from Brisbane Road now, and will be hoping his side can continue this sensational run away from East London.
A Battling Performance
Though Orient didn’t play the scintillating football that we have been accustomed too at times this season, they managed to do the ugly side of the game very well. Every player worked hard and nobody shirked a challenge. This was a true team performance with each and every man giving his all, and this was appreciated by the 198 O’s fans that made the trip to North Wales.
Right Back In It
With Orient’s victory today and other results going the right way for the O’s, Martin Ling’s men are right back in the hunt for an automatic promotion spot. The O’s are now just 3 points off leaders Wycombe and 2 points off 2nd placed Carlisle and 3rd placed Grimsby.
Today’s win was absolutely vital to Orient’s chances of automatic promotion, and when called upon to stand up and be counted, the O’s didn’t shirk the challenge.
O’s Bounce Back Again
It doesn’t seem to matter how many times you knock this O’s side, they just get straight back up and keep fighting. After the abject performance last weekend, Orient once again looked like the side we are used to seeing as they battled and grafted their way to another away victory.
There are a lot of important games ahead for everyone involved with Leyton Orient Football Club, but if the players continue to perform to the same level as they did today, then there should be no reason why Orient aren’t inside that top three come the end of the season.
It was make or break for the O’s today, now they have to keep it up starting with victory at Bristol Rovers on January 31st. That’s after we knock Charlton out the Cup of course. Well, it could happen, couldn’t it?