Date: 5th August 2011 at 8:42am
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After what seems like an eternity since we beat Plymouth Argyle 4-1, Football is finally on its way back and the 2011/2012 season begins tomorrow at The Bescot Stadium.

Walsall is a club with growing Orient connections, with three ex-O’s at the club now. Ryan Jarvis and Adam Chambers have both signed for The Saddlers this summer to join Dean Smith at The Bescot. Jarvis may not be remembered for much at his time at the Orient but there are four games that spring to mind when I think of him. Jarvs’ first two games, against Millwall and Tranmere Rovers, saw him score five goals in an Orient shirt back in 2007. The other two games that spring to mind are games against Wycombe Wanderers and Peterborough United from the 2009-10 and 2010-11 seasons, respectively. The Wycombe goal saw us secure our future in League One, whereas the goal against The Posh had a totally different meaning and kept alive our slim play-off hopes. Chambers spent five years at Orient, after initially joining on a short-term deal. After being brought to the club by Dean Smith, Chambers went on to win many fans with his box-to-box style. Chambers’ performances in an Orient shirt have been key to keeping the club competing at this level, sadly, injuries have caught up with Adam and over the past year or so niggling injuries have reduced the number of appearances he’s made. Deano needs no introduction, he was a hero at the club. Signing in 1997 from Hereford United, Deano went on to make 239 appearances for The O’s, scoring 32 in the process. Deano captained Orient in both play-off finals in 1999 and 2001 and was also a key reason we kept League Football status in 2000.

Onto Walsall itself, its a place I’ll be visiting for the second time tomorrow. The first time I visited was December 2009 where, frankly, I had a nightmare of a day. First I woke up 15 minutes before I had to leave after a heavy night out, that led me to forget to visit a cash machine, it was a bitterly cold day and I had an hour walk to and from the nearest cash machine in Walsall. The game was also one to forget for us O’s fans. It was definitely a game of two halves. The first, Orient dominated and we went in two up at the break thanks to goals from Ryan Jarvis and Tamika Mkandawire. The second was the opposite and Walsall dominated from the off and were rewarded within a minute of the interval with a goal from Troy Deeney. Ten minutes later and Deeney had scored another to peg Orient back. The only good point of that day was Noddy Holder being on the pitch at half-time.

It seems that Deano has been a busy boy at Walsall, not only have Jarvis and Chambers joined the club but so have five other new faces. Mat Sadler (Watford), Kevan Hurst (Carlisle), Lee Beevers (Colchester), David Grof (Notts County) and Anton Peterlin (Plymouth) have all joined The Saddlers thiss summer. To be brutally honest, I don’t know to much about Walsall, but I’ll try and conjur up some words. Andy Butler at the back is highly rated by Walsall and I imagine that Deano has him playing in a similar role to that Deano played. Jon Macken is another name I know a little about. Macken played in the Premier League at Man City but has found his level at League One, he’s hardly a prolific striker but will probably get 10 goals for Walsall’s cause this season.

The game itself is one that most Orient fans belive we should be winning comfortably. There’s a sense of confidence at Orient this pre-season that I’ve never seen before, some really believe that this may well be ‘our year’ and that we should be finishing within the play-offs. I don’t know whether thats a ‘hangover’ of sorts from last season, comparing what we do this season with last could be devastating I feel. I can’t see us recreating that massive unbeaten run we went on, however, if we start well then we could be in with a shout of the play-offs in May. I digress there, if I’m honest I will be very disappointed if we lose this game.

The starting line-up as hinted by Russell himself will be something like; Butcher, Omozusi, Daniels, Chorley, Cuthbert, Smith, Cox, Spring, Laird, Revell, Tehoue. Stephen Dawson has a ankle injury and is a doubt, David Mooney isn’t fit according to Slade and we imagine Jamie Cureton isn’t fit, especially after he missed most of pre-season but I’d still have him as an option in the last twenty minutes from the bench, his fitness may not be up to scratch but his goalscoring ability will still be there.

Prediction: 2-1 to the Orient.