Is This Leyton Orient's Year?
East London outfit Leyton Orient hold the top position in League Two after 16 games this campaign. They boast the best home and away record in the division and have only one loss to their name, a surprising one at home to Newport at the beginning of October. Things are looking positive in E10 with a joyous aura surrounding the Leyton streets. Despite only being just over a third of the way through the season, whispers of promotion have started to circulate as fans uphold optimism on the club returning to the third division after what will be an eight year absence.
The bleak days of Becchetti and a spiral to the national league are behind them as Richie Wellens leads them into a sense of prosperity. But similar comparisons can be drawn to the beginning of last season’s campaign, with a not too dissimilar squad and Kenny Jackett in the dugout. At this point a year ago, the O’s had recorded 27 points from their opening 16 league games. Although it was 12 points less than this time around, they then went on to have 34 points from 20 games.
The pinnacle seemed to be a 4-1 home win against fellow promotion chasers Swindon on a Tuesday night in early December. Orient had got off to a good start and Jackett received positive feedback from fans after his appointment in March of 2021. Fans were beginning to expect a promotion push and a sustained good run of form. But this was not the case. After that jubilant thrashing of Swindon on December 7th , Orient went on a winless run of 15 games, plummeting them into a relegation scrap. Jackett was duly sacked and after such a promising start to the season, fans were left frustrated yet bewildered on what went wrong.
There was a lack of attacking prowess and in-form forwards Harry Smith and Aaron Drinan lost their confidence. It was a drastic demise for Orient who ended up appointing former Swindon boss Wellens in early March. Richie rescued an underperforming Orient side into a safe mid table finish. But after a quality over quantity approach in terms of summer signings, the Orient fans and board still had high expectations heading into a fresh season, another chance to push for the playoffs at the very least.
The acquisition of Idris El Mizouni and George Moncur alongside the permanent signing of Theo Archibald, who was on-loan from Lincoln last season, sparked new hope into the stands. And the players delivered. An unbeaten run of 10 games to start the campaign put Orient top and in spite of a slight blip against Newport, the O’s have continued to produce results. After 16 games, they still sit top on 39 points with twelve wins, three draws and just the one loss.
The fans are well and truly behind Wellens’ passion and philosophy which has been attributed to performances on the pitch. A real communal feel has returned to Brisbane Road; Orient are favourites to go up even at this early stage.
The only question remaining is can Orient avoid another midseason slumber and secure an illustrious promotion back to League One?