Saturday sees Leyton Orient take on fellow slow-starters Hartlepool at Brisbane Road. Here we preview this weekend’s clash:
On Tuesday night Leyton Orient failed to muster a positive response to last weekend’s defeat against Tranmere. They performed poorly in mid-week, losing to Stevenage by a goal to nil. Lucas Akins scored the decisive goal on 23 minutes condemning the O’s to a second consecutive league defeat.
Scott Cuthbert missed the defeat to Stevenage due to a hamstring injury and he joins Lee Butcher on the long-term injury list as it emerged that the ex-Swindon defender could be out for two months. Kevin Lisbie also missed Tuesday night’s match with a tight hamstring, but there is a chance that he will be available to face Hartlepool on Saturday. Ben Chorley will continue in defence alongside Nathan Clarke with Michael Symes likely to lead the line for the O’s.
Lee Cook looks set to make his second debut for the club after signing a five month deal on Friday.
Leon McSweeney will be a familiar to Hartlepool fans as he played 88 games for the club over two seasons between 2009 and 2011.
Top scorer: Anthony Sweeney 8 League One: 13th FA Cup: 1st round League Cup: 1st round Cards: 53 Yellow 3 Red
Hartlepool were third in the league last September but a poor run of form cost Mick Wadsworth his job. Neale Cooper returned to the club for a second spell in December 2011 and he led Hartlepool to 13th place, their highest finish since coming 6th in League One in 2004/2005 which was Cooper’s last season in charge. However, not everything went right for the new Hartlepool boss. A strong away record in the league (the seventh best) masked their weakness at home (only Leyton Orient had a worse record in front of their own fans). They also struggled for goals during last season’s campaign and that trend may be set to continue this season, as they are yet to score in their first three matches this term.
Neale Cooper will be hoping new forwards Jonathan Franks and veteran striker Steve Howard find the net sooner rather than later. Midfielder Simon Walton has also been added to the squad over the summer. James Brown, Stephen Wright, Nobby Solano and Gary Liddle all left the club over the close-season.
In contrast to last term, the Teesiders have made a disappointing start to the season 2012/13. They gained a point last weekend in a goalless draw with Swindon at Victoria Park, but they have lost their other two matches on the road. In their opening fixture in the League Cup they suffered a heavy defeat at the hands of newly-promoted Crewe Alexandra and they lost 2-0 to Notts County on Tuesday night. Francois Zoko headed in the first for County after 17 minutes and Neal Bishop ended Hartlepool’s hopes with an 86th minute goal.
Defender Neil Austin will undergo a late fitness test again after missing Tuesday’s match against Notts County with a calf injury. Paul Murray may be in line for a start after an impressive substitute appearance in mid-week and there could be other changes as Hartlepool search for their first win. Pools boss Neale Cooper said “The positive for me the other night was when Paul Murray came on. Paul will play Saturday, no question about that.”
Leyton Orient and Hartlepool have been evenly matched over the years. Orient won both fixtures between the two sides during 2008/2009 and in 2010/2011 but they lost both matches against Hartlepool in 2009/2010 and last season and the Pools were unbeaten when facing the O’s. The last meeting between the teams took place in April, with Hartlepool emerging victorious despite a goal from Orient loanee Jamal Campbell-Ryce. Orient’s last home win against Hartlepool came in October 2010 thanks to an 89th minute goal from Jonathan Tehoue.
Who is your key player for Saturday’s game?
Paul Murray is likely to start in Saturday’s game given boss Neale Cooper’s comments to the press; he won last season’s Player of The Year Award and Players’ Player of the Year Award which sums it all up really. The central midfielder is a consistent player who always gives 100% and adds a bit of grit to our game with his crunching tackles. He also brings some experience to the side, having played in over 450 league games and he also has an England B-team cap under his belt.
Where do you think you will finish?
A mid-table finish would be a realistic shout, but we’re going to struggle if we fail to end our goalscoring problem which is something that has unfortunately plagued us for a while now.
I personally think that Orient are a decent and well established League 1 side who will cause us problems on Saturday if we perform like we have lately. We didn’t lose to Orient last season, but as you can see, I’m not too confident going into this game given that so far this season we haven’t scored yet and we’ve conceded seven goals. With our lack of service and goals scored, it could well be a tough one for us!
Thanks to Hartlepool fan David Jolly for taking the time to answer these questions. You can follow David on twitter @davidj_93