Date: 29th September 2006 at 1:46pm
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There are some quite beautiful beaches in this world, the golden sand of the Caribbean, the beautiful views of the Mediterranean, and the golden sand of California to mention just a few. Yet, away from all the glitz and glamour comes places such as Blackpool. It`s been described as the ‘Vegas of the North`, yet there have been many that have tried to find anything remotely pleasurable about Blackpool`s so called Pleasure Beach.

The backdrop to the fixture is probably a rather apt one as the grey and murky skies of the Seaside town reflect what has been an incredibly poor start for both teams. Blackpool have yet to win at home this season, but a strange mood has taken over the Town of Tangerines, an almost optimistic sound has reverberated around the area and that can only mean one thing.

When your team is in dire straights, when you can`t buy a win for love or money, when the home fans are on your back, there is probably only one team that you would pray to face. Yes, that team would be Orient. Blackpool fans are probably rubbing their hands with glee knowing that the O`s, a side that are considered more than a soft touch away from home, will soon come to Bloomfield Road and allow their hosts to score at least three times without reply.

Orient have played five, lost five, scored three and conceded 15. It`s a miserable away record which Martin Ling will need to rectify quickly if the O`s are not to be too far adrift of safety. With the O`s seemingly conceding at any opportunity away from home, it is little wonder that it is with little reason for optimism that O`s fans head for the Seaside.

Despite the heroic comeback of Tuesday night, Orient have been woeful away from home even on occasion suggesting that Ling could call up the O`s Ladies in his side`s place. Certainly, the defeat away at Brighton in the previous away game showed a side lacking any sign of courage, spirit , drive or determination. Yet, the fabulous comeback which saw Orient score three times in the final thirteen minuets on Tuesday night has given the O`s a new found confidence?..allegedly.

It promises to be a real relegation battle, a sad statement to make after just eleven games of the new season. Yet, with Blackpool`s home form nothing short of abysmal and Orient`s away form one of the worst in the country, it may not be a spectacle for the faint hearted.

Ling On Blackpool:

Speaking to before setting off to Blackpool, Martin Ling revealed that the O`s will switch back to a 4-4-2 formation.

‘The 4-3-3 formation didn’t really work on Tuesday, and when we went back to 4-4-2 we won that half 3-1. That’s a formation we’re used to and it’s one the players know inside out, so we’ll probably see a return to that from the start at Blackpool”.

Having come back with a miraculous three goal salvo in thirteen magical minutes, Ling is backing his squad to excel through their new found confidence. ‘We will travel there with some confidence behind us because of the manner in which we gained the draw on Tuesday. Scoring three goals in the last 13 minutes with your left-back getting a hat-trick gives everyone a lift and it’s up to us to capitalise on that by gaining our first away points tomorrow”.

Yet again however, Ling lamented his side`s poor defending that has cost them so dearly so far this season. With the O`s having conceded 15 goals in their first five away games this season, the Orient manager knows that his side need to tighten up.

“We were bitterly disappointed to concede three goals again and that is something that needs to stop right away. We’re working away at the problem on the training pitch and we need to see the results of that now.’

With Blackpool above Orient only on goal difference, Ling knows that his side are in for a real battle when they take on the Tangerines at Bloomfield Road. With the home side yet to win in front of their own supporters yet this season, Ling knows that the first goal will be crucial.

“Blackpool were tipped to do well at the start of the season, but they haven’t made the start they expected and we need to put pressure on them by scoring the first goal of the game. “We haven’t done that away from home this season and, because of that, we’ve never had a foothold in an away game. But, as I’ve said many times before, if we put our best foot forward we will get results and we need to do that tomorrow.’

Blackpool Team News:

Blackpool are unlikely to make any changes for the clash with Orient despite a 2-0 defeat away at Carlisle on Tuesday night. Claus Jorgensen is still nursing a groin injury so David Fox should retain his place in the starting line up.

Matt Blinkhorn is the only certain absentee for the Tangerines.

Blackpool Probable: Evans, Barker, Evatt, Jackson, Coid, Gillett, Fox, Southern, Hoolahan, Burgess, Vernon. Subs: Jones, Parker, Morrell, Prendergast, Joseph.

Player to watch: Scott Vernon

Blackpool`s position at the foot at the table is quite surprising considering the array of talent at Simon Grayson`s disposal. Several Blackpool players have scored against the O`s in the not too distant past including Ben Burgess, recently signed from Hull, Adrian Forbes formerly of Swansea and John Murphy the long serving striker.

There is quality throughout the Tangerine`s side with Keith Southern a huge influence in the midfield whilst Keigan Parker and Andy Morrell provide a real threat in attack.

Top scorer at Bloomfield Road however is Scott Vernon. The former Manchester United trainee arrived via Oldham United has scored five times in his first eleven games for the Tangerines.

Leyton Orient Team News:

The O`s are expected to revert to a 4-4-2 formation after Ling abandoned the 4-3-3 formation at half time against Gillingham. The reshuffle will see Paul Connor drop to the bench with Lee Steele keeping his place in attack alongside Gary Alexander.

In midfield, Wayne Corden will start on the right flank having been used as a substitute in midweek whilst Daryl McMahon will continue on the left after an impressive performance against the Gills.

The most worrying news for Martin Ling is that Matt Lockwood is a serious doubt for the game after the midfielder received a dead leg in the first half of Tuesday`s fixture. Despite going on to score a hat trick in the final thirteen minutes of the second half, Locky has not trained since Tuesday and could miss out. If Lockwood is deemed unavailable, Ling will call upon the services of Aiden Palmer.

Adam Tann will have a late fitness test ahead of the game, but is likely to be on the substitute`s bench.

Shane Tudor, Craig Easton and Efe Echanomi are all unavailable through injury.

Orient Probable: Garner, Miller, Mackie (C), Saah, Palmer, Corden, McMahon, Simpson, Chambers, Steele, Alexander. Subs: Morris, Tann, Ibehre, Connor, Keith.

Player to watch: Daryl McMahon

Daryl McMahon was in scintillating form on Tuesday night as he produced his finest performance in an Orient shirt for some time. The former Port Vale man was instrumental in Orient`s comeback and provided some much needed creativity to the O`s midfield.

Adam Chambers has also been in terrific form of late having scored last Saturday against Rotherham before winning a second half penalty against Gillingham. The former Baggies man will need to be at his tenacious best as the O`s prepare for a real relegation battle.

Match Facts & Stats

This is the 67th league meeting between the two teams with Blackpool having won on 28 occasions to Orient`s 21.

The last game between the two was at Cardiff`s Millennium Stadium as Blackpool triumphed 4-2 in the 2001 Division 3 play-off final.

Despite taking an early lead through Chris Tate, Orient were pegged back by Ian Hughes`s 35th minute equaliser. However, when Scott Houghton restored Orient`s first half lead just two minutes later, it appeared that Orient were back on track to record a rather crucial victory.

Yet, just when O`s fans were looking for half time, Blackpool`s Brian Reid levelled matters on the stroke of half time. The Seasider`s eventually won the game with two goals in the last thirteen minutes courtesy of Paul Simpson and Brett Ormerod.

The last meeting at Bloomfield Road saw the O`s managed a 2-2 draw with Blackpool scrambling an 83rd minute equaliser through Danny Coid. The O`s had lead after just 11 minutes through Richard Garcia only for Paul Simpson to level seven minutes later. The O`s took the lead again on 39 thanks to a second strike from Garcia but they failed to hold on and had to settle for a point.

Orient have failed to win at Bloomfield Road since 1929 when they managed a 1-0 victory.

Blackpool are currently 21st in League One, just one position above Orient. They have taken 8 points from their eleven games so far and have yet to record a victory at home this season. The Tangerines have drawn three and lost two of their five home games, scoring four times and conceding seven.

Scott Vernon is the top scorer with five goals so far this season.

Ref Watch:

Mr Atkinson will be the man in the middle for the game at Bloomfield Road. Mr Atkinson who hails from West Yorkshire is a Premier League referee and took charge of this season`s Community Shield Final between Chelsea and Liverpool.

In his five games so far this season, he has shown 13 yellow cards and 0 reds.

Mr Atkinson last took charge of an Orient game in December 2004 when the O`s were thrashed 3-0 at Darlington.

Match Prediction:

The first goal will be crucial in this encounter with Orient failing to take the lead in any of their away games so far this season. If the O`s can break that unenviable sequence then they could yet find the home fans exercising their anger at their side.

Without a win at Bloomfield since 1929, Martin Ling will know what a huge result it would be if Orient can come away with all three points, but the dreadful defending that has plagued the O`s so far this season shows no sign of fading.

It would take a brave man to suggest an Orient victory as there has been little evidence or encouragement to predict such an event. With the strikers struggling to score goals and the defence so often culpable, it will take a vast improvement from the O`s if they are to gain anything from this encounter.

Score Prediction:

Blackpool 3-0 Orient