Orient started the new year in the best possible fashion with a hard fought 2-1 win at the home of Boston United. The victory means that the O’s have won four of their last five league games and now sit just two points behind league leaders Wycombe who lost a 4-5 thriller at home to Macclesfield. Goals from Jabo Ibehre and Gary Alexander were enough to see off the Pilgrims who had previously lost only once at home all season.
The first half saw Boston enjoy a lot of possession but as has been the problem recently for the Pilgrims, they failed to make their possession count. In fact it was only by the 25th minute that Boston had their first chance when David Galbraith shot wide following work by Bradley Maylett. At the other end, former O’s defender Alan white charged down an Alexander effort and Tudor shot over from 25 yards. Tudor had Orient’s next effort on goal when he fired just inches wide from a Lockwood free kick. Slowly but surely Orient were working themselves into the game and finally found the breakthrough just before half-time. Justin Miller’s through pass gave Ibehre something to chase, and having made up the five yards on Paul Ellender, the Boston centre back, Ibehre managed to hold his man off and finish past the ‘keeper.
1-0 at half time to Orient, and although Boston had the majority of possession they didn’t look too threatening. Yet straight after the break the Pilgrims hit back with former Brentford midfielder and Boston captain, Stewart Talbot, smashing home from inside the box after a poor punch after a corner from Garner. Those inside York Street that thought that this might signal the comeback were however quite mistaken as Orient stepped up a gear.
Orient had a couple of chances through Ibehre and Lockwood saw his free kick from 25 yards well saved by Logan, but Orient finally got the breakthrough they deserved through top scorer Gary Alexander on 58. Alexander netted after the previous five efforts from himself, Ibehre twice, Keith and Easton had all somehow been blocked or scrambled off the line.
Orient continued to surge forward and Logan did wonderfully well to deny both Lockwood and Alexander. Boston introduced Jason Lee, this time without the pineapple on his head, and resorted to long hoofs up the field to try and unsettle Orient but it failed to work. Yet with only minutes left, former Southend striker Lawrie Dudfield fired inches wide when he really should have done better. Orient had a chance to extend their lead in the sixth and final minute of stoppage time but Ibehre was offside from Tudor’s pass.
It finished 2-1 to the Orient with 4 players booked from each side. It was as to be expected a real physical battle and both sides fought bravely but Orient’s extra quality in the final third proved why they sit proudly in the top three.
A Great Start to 2006
Martin Ling will be delighted with the result and the fact that the O’s have taken 9 points from a possible 12 over the Christmas period. Today was always going to be a tough game but Orient fought well and deserved their victory. Having lost at Wycombe, some managers might have panicked, but Ling has kept his faith with the players and they’ve repaid him handsomely.
Commenting on other team’s managers is always a grey area, but alas, on this occasion it cannot really be avoided. Steve Evans is already despised in one part of East London, but I’m guessing that he probably won’t be on Martin Ling’s Christmas card list next year. Evans refused to shake Ling’s hand after the game today instead trudging back to the changing rooms. I doubt that there is another man that dislikes Orient so much, particularly after his comments after the game last season and his reported disgust at not winning the October manager of the month award. I’m sure Steve will have quite a lot to say after the defeat today, but Orient responded the right way, they did their talking on the pitch.
Another Away Victory
The victory at Boston means that Orient have won 7 away games in the league this season and 9 in all competitions. Orient have now taken 25 points from a possible 36 on the road which is a fantastic record, particularly for a club that once went two years without winning a single away game!
With Carlisle winning at Grimsby, Orient needed to ensure they took maximum points at York Street. Carlisle are only two points behind the O’s with a game in hand which they play next Saturday with Orient in F.A. Cup action on the Sunday.
It was always going to be a tough game at Boston but Orient have a new found maturity that has been lacking in previous years, and also have the confidence to win these types of games. York Street is not an easy place to go, but Orient have come away with a victory through hard work, team spirit and no shortage of skill. It is these sorts of victories which gives the team the belief and confidence to perform.
A Great Start to 2006
Three points is always part of the recipe to a happy new year, and whilst others will continue to moan and grumble, some of us prefer our team to do the talking where it really matters, on that green thing called a pitch. After all you can argue and grumble about statistics and decisions but in the end the only statistic that really matters is that one at the very top of the page. Happy New Year!