The Orient Hour’s Chris Hood looks ahead to the match…
This Saturday sees possibly the biggest game of the National League season so far as top of the table Leyton Orient host big-spending promotion contenders Salford City (3pm kick off). The game is a home sell out with both onsite and additional offsite hospitality all sold. With overseas fans able to watch the game live online and the National League focusing on the match as their feature game, it is sure to be a massive occasion.
Orient currently sit four points clear of Wrexham in 2nd, the Red Dragons having a game in hand on the O’s. Both sides last played on New Year’s Day, where Orient overcame local rivals Dagenham & Redbridge 1-0 at Brisbane Road, and Wrexham fell to a 2-0 defeat at Saturday’s opponents Salford.
The victory for The O’s ended a run of only one win in the previous four National League matches, as Orient endured a difficult Christmas with a number of significant injury absentees, but this was nothing compared to the run of Salford who had lost four consecutive league games prior to the victory over Wrexham, including a heavy 5-1 defeat at The Racecourse ground.
Orient boast 57 points in 28 games, the only side in the division averaging over the magic two points a game mark, Salford five points back in 3rd, also having played 28.
At Brisbane Road The O’s have won nine, drawn four and lost a single National League match, while The Ammies have struggled away from the Peninsula Stadium, with five league wins, four draws and five losses. In fact, they haven’t picked up three points on the road since beating Barnet 3-1 at the end of October, splitting the next six down the middle with three draws and as many losses.
Comparing their goalscoring exploits, Salford top the bill alongside Harrogate with 53 in 28 National League matches, Orient a place and four goals further back. 27 of The Ammies’ goals have come from two men, Adam Rooney netting 17 times to Rory Gaffney’s 10, while Macauley Bonne tops the league scoring charts with 18, alongside Fylde’s Danny Rowe.
In terms of league goals conceded, Orient lead the way alongside Wrexham, having conceded 17 in 28 (Wrexham have only played 27), Salford down the pecking order in 9th, with 31.
Looking at the two statistics combined, it is no surprise that Orient have the best goal difference in the division with +32, nine clear of their nearest challengers Fylde and 10 clear of Salford, although +22 is not a figure to be sniffed at.
The two sides drew 1-1 on the opening day of the season, their first ever meeting.
Rory Gaffney opened the scoring, before a late Hogan own goal salvaged a point for The O’s in front of the BT Sport cameras.
Orient have been suffering with a number of injury problems of late, but the influential Jobi McAnuff came through his return against Dagenham & Redbridge with few noticeable problems, having missed the last couple with a broken toe.
Craig Clay could also make his return after suffering a dead leg which has kept him out of the last couple of fixtures, but James Dayton is a longer term absentee after having surgery on a knee cartilage tear.
Justin Edinburgh boosted his options with the signing of Brighton and Hove Albion U23 winger Jordan Maguire-Drew this week. The 21 year old joins for an undisclosed fee on a 2 1/2 year deal, and has good experience in the division, including a spell on loan at Wrexham earlier this season and a stellar 2016/17 with Dagenham, where he scored 16 and assisted 15 more in the club’s playoff campaign, picking up their Young Player of the Season award. Maguire-Drew could make his first appearance as early as Saturday, but was awaiting international clearance earlier this week.
Last Time Out
Orient 1-0 Dagenham & Redbridge, National League, Tuesday 1st January
ORIENT: Brill, Ling, Ekpiteta, Coulson, Widdowson, Brophy (Harrold 77), Gorman (Lawless 66), Lee, McAnuff (C), Koroma, Bonne
SUBS (not used): Sargeant, Happe, Alabi
BOOKED: Widdowson (47), Koroma (86), McAnuff (88)
GOALS: Bonne (32)
Salford 2-0 Wrexham, National League, Tuesday 1st January
SALFORD: Neal, Wiseman, Touray, Hogan (C), Piergianni, Green (Brockbank 84), Walker, Nolan, Whitehead, Pond, Gaffney (Dieseruvwe 84)
SUBS (not used): Crocombe, Rooney, Lloyd
GOALS: Green (23), Gaffney (60)
Around the National League (all Saturday at 3pm)
Bromley vs AFC Fylde
Chesterfield vs Ebbsfleet United
Dagenham & Redbridge vs Boreham Wood
FC Halifax Town vs Braintree Town
Gateshead vs Maidenhead United
Hartlepool United vs Maidstone United
Havant & Waterlooville vs Barrow
Solihull Moors vs Eastleigh
Sutton United vs Harrogate Town
Wrexham vs Dover Athletic