Orient’s hard work during their training camp in Spain has clearly been beneficial as Ian Hendon’s side recorded a comfortable 3-0 win over League One side Colchester United. The O’s could easily have added a few more goals to their tally, but more importantly the performance the visitors produced was very encouraging.
Orient made the breakthrough on the half-hour as Paul McCallum continued his goal-scoring form and he added his and Orient’s second shortly after half-time. Substitute Scott Kashket then made an immediate impact from the bench by grabbing a third goal for the O’s.
Following Nathan Clarke’s departure, Sean Clohessy took the armband as he faced his old club. Orient’s squad contained four trialists: Connor Essam and Frazer Shaw continued in the starting lineup, while former West Ham centre-back Danny Gabbidon and former Hammers youth goalkeeper Deniz Mehmet were named as substitutes. Charlie Grainger and Harry Lee missed the fixture due to slight knocks.
The O’s were clearly intent on controlling the game and retaining possession from the very start of the match. However, both sides took some time to settle and as a result chances were few and far between during the opening quarter-of-an-hour.
Orient created the first genuine chance, and what a chance it was. Dean Cox’s dangerous free-kick was met by an unmarked Mathieu Baudry, but the Orient defender headed wide. The Frenchman kicked the post in frustration, fully aware that he had had a great opportunity to open the scoring.
Following that scare, Colchester fashioned a couple of chances of their own. First Richard Brindley fired his shot over the crossbar, then Gary Woods was called upon to save a low shot from Dion Sembie-Ferris, though the Orient stopper wasn’t stretched.
The hosts received a warning from Orient’s dangermen as Paul McCallum headed Sean Clohessy just wide of Elliot Parish’s far post.
At the other end the U’s came very close to recording the opener as Brindley’s over-hit cross struck the Orient crossbar.
Clohessy delivered another tempting cross from the right which was met by Jay Simpson, but Parish was able to push the ball over his crossbar. However, the O’s soon found a way past Parish.
Some neat passing play from Simpson and Cox allowed the visitors to find Pritchard, who carried the ball before feeding the overlapping Clohessy. The former Colchester full-back sent a fine cross to the far post where McCallum rose above his marker and headed the ball in the gap between Parish and the post .
The O’s could well have doubled their advantage just before the interval. Cox’s free-kick found Jay Simpson but the striker could not get his close range header on target.
At the break, trialist Danny Gabbidon was introduced at centre-back in place of Connor Essam.
Ian Hendon’s side were quick to pick up from where they left off and they managed to get their second goal just two minutes after the restart.
Pritchard curled a great cross into the Colchester penalty area and McCallum got himself into position to loop a header into the far side of the hosts’ net.
Despite conceding another headed goal, Colchester continued to struggle in the air. Baudry went close again as his header from a Cox corner cannoned back off the crossbar.
Hendon made changes on the hour. Deniz Mehmet, Blair Turgott and Ollie Palmer came on in place of Woods, Pritchard and Simpson.
Orient continued to threaten. Sammy Moore switched the play to the left side, picking out Dean Cox with a lovely pass. The O’s winger controlled the ball and hit a fine, dipping volley that would have been a great goal had it not rebounded off the crossbar.
Scott Kashket was brought on for the goalscorer McCallum with fifteen minutes remaining. The Orient youngster wasted little time as he found the net after just two minutes on the pitch. Palmer’s flick on played Kashket through as he out-paced two defenders before beating the Colchester goalkeeper with a composed finish.
More substitutions gave young players Freddy Moncur, Montel Agyemang, Sandro Semedo and Sam Ling a run out.
Colchester pushed forward in an attempt to pull a goal back, but the O’s were able to maintain their clean sheet and record a victory.
Gary Woods: He wasn’t really tested by Colchester. He had to save a few shots from the edge of the area. He communicated well with the back four and seemed more vocal than usual.
Sean Clohessy: Captain on the day. He offered plenty of width going forward and he produced some very good crosses, for example the delivery for the first goal. Solid defensively.
Mathieu Baudry: He was in fine form. He was mobile and covered well for his fellow defenders, very difficult to get past. He could have had a couple of goals too. Given the armband when Clohessy went off.
Connor Essam: He looked solid defensively and comfortable in the side. Seems like he would be a good addition.
Frazer Shaw: He produced a very good performance. He coped well with the pace of Brindley and Sembie-Ferris. He was rarely beaten. Easily good enough to be worth a contract as back-up at the very least, but he could well be a starter.
Lloyd James: His work may have gone unnoticed but he helped Orient retain possession in midfield. He also won a few headers.
Sammy Moore: He played more of a holding role to help James and he offered help to Shaw on the left flank. A better performance than he managed at Braintree. He played some good passes too.
Bradley Pritchard: Similarly he helped cover his flank, but he offered more going forward with a few attacking runs off the ball. Combined well with Clohessy and delivered a great cross for the second goal.
Dean Cox: He linked up well with McCallum and Simpson ahead of him, as well as Clohessy on the right. Produced some great dead ball deliveries that should have resulted in more goals. Hit the crossbar with a great shot.
Paul McCallum: Another great performance. He offered a genuine aerial threat and he continues to find the net. Showed great desire to win and perform well, he didn’t approach the game like a friendly.
Jay Simpson: A bit quiet, but he linked well with Cox and McCallum on occasion. He showed good feet at times too.
Deniz Mehmet (GK) (on after 61′): He had little to do in terms of shot stopping. Generally looked comfortable with the ball at his feet (one weak goal kick aside).
Danny Gabbidon (on at half-time): His reading of the game showed his experience at a higher level. Stepped out to intercept on a couple of occasions. He didn’t seem to struggle physically. Worth consideration.
Blair Turgott (on after 61′): Not as effective going forward as he had been against Braintree, but he did track back diligently to help Clohessy.
Ollie Palmer (on after 61′): Struggled to get into the game and wasn’t involved that much. Produced a good flick on to assist Kashket’s goal.
Scott Kashket (on after 74′): He had an immediate impact. A very nice, composed finish for his goal.
Freddy Moncur, Sam Ling, Montel Agyemang and Sandro Semedo didn’t really have enough time on the pitch to make an impact.
Tactics and Playing Style
Ian Hendon set out with a shape that differed from those that he implemented against Braintree. Orient played a 4-1-2-1-2 for the majority of the game and it worked well, albeit against a Colchester side that weren’t at their best.
Despite the different shape, a number of players served the same function as they did in the 4-4-2 against Braintree. Lloyd James often drops into the space in front of the defence in order to help the O’s build from the back, therefore his role at the base of the diamond was not so different. Cox’s central position behind the strikers allowed him to roam, just as he often does from the left flank. Frazer Shaw and Sean Clohessy were charged with offering width against Braintree and that responsibilty was even more important against Colchester in order to prevent the O’s from becoming too narrow.
Sammy Moore and Bradley Pritchard had to offer defensive cover for the flanks as well as break up play in central areas and this role seemed to suit their playing styles. They were also able to display their passing abilities a little more regularly.
The playing style against the U’s was very different to the way the O’s played in their first pre-season friendly.
Against Braintree, Orient often tried to play direct passes up to McCallum, however in this game the O’s were clearly intent on playing out from the back and through midfield using shorter passes and a more patient approach. This enabled the O’s to control the game and produce some attractive, fluid football.
Crosses continued to be the main supply line. Clohessy was a regular source of crosses from open play, while Cox delivered numerous dangerous set-pieces. This was very effective as the hosts struggled to deal with Orient’s aerial threat and more ruthless finishing would have resulted in a larger margin of victory. McCallum was particularly difficult to contend with and Baudry could have scored a couple of goals too.
However, Orient created very few chances that did not involve a cross of some kind (Kashket’s goal was an exception). Therefore, Orient will need to add some more variety to their attacks in order to break down sides that are better equipped to cope with crosses into the box.
Although the O’s performed well, the diamond formation is not yet polished. There were times where the central attacking area seemed to get a bit congested as the trio of McCallum, Cox and Simpson tried to operate in the same space. As familiarity with this system and each other’s games improves problems like these should be ironed out.
Substitutions on the hour saw the O’s switch to a more conventional 4-4-2 with Cox reverting to the left flank, while Turgott played on the right. After the change, Orient continued to look dangerous going forward though their play seemed less fluid than before. Hendon’s side remained solid at the back.
Colchester still struggled to really trouble the O’s and after an unbeaten pre-season Tony Humes’ side were disappointing. Overall the O’s performed well against their League One opponents and that should help build confidence. There is of course still room for improvement not to mention the need to add to the squad.
What did you make of Orient’s performance against Colchester? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.