Leyton Orient begin their 2017/18 National League campaign with a trip to Gander Green Lane to face Sutton United in front of the BT Sport cameras. Here we preview Saturday’s season opener:
[textmarker color=”FFB300″ type=”background color”]Sutton United[/textmarker]
National League: 12th FA Cup: 5th Round FA Trophy: 3rd Round Top scorer: Biamou, Deacon 13
Last term marked Sutton United’s first season in the highest level of non-league football for sixteen years. Paul Doswell’s side adapted well to life in the fifth tier, securing a mid-table finish.
However, Sutton’s FA Cup exploits were the real story of the season. After overcoming Forest Green Rovers in the 4th qualifying round, the U’s beat Dartford and Cheltenham Town to reach the third round. There, they met AFC Wimbledon. After a goalless draw at Gander Green Lane, Sutton managed an impressive 3-1 away win against their League One opponents.
In the Fourth Round, Sutton hosted Championship Leeds United, a side that were 83 places above them at the time. Jamie Collins’ spot kick in the second-half secured Sutton’s place in the Fifth Round for the first time in the club’s history.
Paul Doswell’s side were drawn at home to Arsenal in the fifth round. Sutton’s incredible FA Cup run ended against the Gunners as Arsene Wenger and his men managed to avoid a cup upset by winning 2-0. However, the hosts did have their moments, most notably, Roarie Deacon came agonizingly close to scoring against his former side when his shot from 25 yards hit the crossbar.
[tabs title1=”IN” text1=”Moses Emmanuel (Dover Athletic), Jamie Butler (Hemel Hempstead), Ross Lafayette (Dover Athletic), Aswad Thomas (Dover Athletic), Seb Brown (Grays Athletic), Anthony Jeffrey (Forest Green Rovers), Josh Taylor (Oklahoma Energy), Simon Walton (Guiseley), Kenny Davis (Boreham Wood)” tabs title2=”OUT” text2=”Maxime Biamou (Coventry City, Undisclosed), Bedsente Gomis (Barrow), Roarie Deacon (Dundee), Baboye Traore, Afolabi Coker, Chris Nurse, Ben Jefford, Jamie Smith”]
Sutton United will take their cup exploits and their experience of the National League into the new campaign. Paul Doswell and his team have proved they can cope with big occasions and they are unlikely to be fazed by an opening day fixture in front of the BT Sport cameras.
The U’s also have the advantage of being used to playing on an artificial surface. Orient got a taste of football on a 3G pitch in the friendly against Harlow Town but they may still take time to adjust. Sutton will also be keen to show the O’s that the National League is a difficult division and the U’s should provide a stern test.
However, Paul Doswell has lost a couple of important players over the summer. The U’s will no longer be able to rely on the goals of Maxime Biamou and Roarie Deacon who were the top scorers last term. Biamou moved to Coventry City for an undisclosed fee and Deacon has joined Dundee.
Sutton United have recruited some good replacements. Moses Emmanuel and Ross Lafayette did well with Dover last season and the U’s snapped up Josh Taylor after his trial with the O’s came to an abrupt end following an impressive brace against Harlow Town.
The U’s can also call upon the likes of Nicky Bailey and Craig Eastmond who boast Football League experience.
Sutton’s pre-season preparations began with 1-0 defeats against Coventry City and Hemel Hempstead Town, but results began to pick up after that. They managed victories over National League South sides Dartford (0-1) and Havant & Waterlooville (2-5).
Last weekend the U’s finished off their pre-season schedule with a double-header. On Friday night they hosted a Norwich City XI and claimed a 3-2 win and on Saturday they beat Chelmsford City 2-1 thanks to a brace from Kieron Cadogan.
Butler, Bailey, Thomas, Beckwith, Eastmond, Collins, Walton, Davis, Emmanuel, Jeffrey, Cadogan
Miles, Spence (Bailey 77′), Jebb (Davis 77′), Wright (Walton 45′), John (Beckwith 77′) , Dundas (Jeffrey 41′), Taylor (Emmanuel 62′)
Sutton United will be without first-choice goalkeeper Ross Worner for the foreseeable future as the 27-year-old has suffered a ruptured cruciate ligament. Jamie Butler has been recruited from Hemel Hempstead and is set to start the season in the U’s goal.
Simon Downer and Bradley Hudson-Odoi are also set to be unavailable as they have missed much of pre-season through injury.
Not every Sutton United player made it through pre-season unscathed either. Adam Coombes picked up an ankle injury over the summer which could rule him out and Anthony Jeffrey is a doubt after sustaining a knock in the friendly against Chelmsford.
Simon Downer made 79 appearances for Orient between 1998 and 2004. He was a part of the O’s side that reached the Division Three Play-Off final in 2000/01 and started in final defeat against Blackpool at the Millenium Stadium.
[textmarker color=”D40808″ type=”background color”]Leyton Orient[/textmarker]
[tabs title1=”IN” text1=”David Mooney (Southend United), Joe Widdowson (Dagenham & Redbridge), Charlie Lee (Stevenage), Jake Caprice (Woking), Alex Lawless (Yeovil Town), Christian Scales (Whitehawk), Macauley Bonne (Colchester United, Undisclosed), George Elokobi (Colchester United), Craig Clay (Motherwell), Jobi McAnuff (Stevenage), Romauld Boco (Accrington Stanley), Josh Coulson (Cambridge United, Loan), Tristan Abrahams (Norwich City, Loan), Jamie Sendles-White (Swindon Town), James Dayton (Cheltenham Town), Freddy Moncur” tabs title2=”OUT” text2=”Nigel Atangana (Cheltenham Town), Jordan Bowery (Crewe Alexandra), Alex Cisak (Sydney FC), Yvan Erichot (Pafos), Nicky Hunt (Notts County), Liam Kelly (Coventry City), Callum Kennedy (AFC Wimbledon), Gavin Massey (Wigan Athletic), Paul McCallum (Eastleigh), Teddy Mezague (Royal Excel Mouscron), Sammy Moore (Leatherhead), Ulrich N’nomo (Gil Vicente), Ollie Palmer (Lincoln City), Tom Parkes (Carlisle United), Robbie Weir (Chesterfield), Tristan Abrahams (Norwich City, Undisclosed), Steven Alzate (Brighton & Hove Albion, Undisclosed), Victor Adeboyejo, Michael Collins, Jens Janse, Sandro Semedo”]
After Nigel Travis, Kent Teague and co rescued the club a little over a month ago, the O’s have undergone an impressive overhaul on and off the pitch. Martin Ling returned to the club as Director of Football and along with new manager Steve Davis, the squad has been rebuilt with no fewer than 15 additions. The O’s now have a squad that boasts experience of promotion from the National League, not to mention experience at higher levels. Orient have also managed to retain the majority of the talented youngsters that featured last season, with only Steven Alzate and Tristan Abrahams moving up the football pyramid (though the latter will remain at Brisbane Road on a season-long loan.
Martin Ling returned to the club as Director of Football and along with new manager Steve Davis, the squad has been rebuilt with no fewer than 15 additions. The O’s now have a squad that boasts experience of promotion from the National League, not to mention experience at higher levels. Orient have also managed to retain the majority of the talented youngsters that featured last season, with only Steven Alzate and Tristan Abrahams moving up the football pyramid (though the latter will remain at Brisbane Road on a season-long loan).
The uncertainty over the summer with regard to the takeover left Orient somewhat behind in terms of preparations.
Orient began their pre-season with a behind-closed-doors friendly against a Tottenham XI which the O’s lost 4-0.
A trip to Isthmian League Premier Division side Harlow Town followed. Despite the hosts taking the lead in the first-half, Orient ran-out winners by six goals to one thanks to goals from David Mooney, Tristan Abrahams, a brace from Macauley Bonne and two goals for trialist Josh Taylor, who went on to join Sutton United.
Steve Davis’ men then continued their goalscoring form by thrashing Burnham Ramblers of the Essex Senior League 10-0, with Tristan Abrahams bagging half of Orient’s goals.
The O’s faced a sterner test when they played Gary Alexander’s Greenwich Borough side. Orient edged the match, winning 2-1 through goals from Mooney and Bonne.
A goalless draw with AFC Hornchurch followed and the O’s then travelled to Billericay Town last weekend. Goals from Bonne and Jake Caprice helped Orient to a 2-1 win over the Isthmian League Premier Division outfit.
On Tuesday night, Orient wrapped pre-season up by hosting an Arsenal U23 side at Brisbane Road. The Gunners claimed a comfortable 5-1 victory but Macauley Bonne did manage to score his fifth goal of pre-season.
Caprice Coulson Elokobi Widdowson
Koroma Mooney Dayton
Leyton Orient’s numerous additions over the summer have created genuine competition again. Throughout pre-season, Steve Davis has implemented a 4-2-3-1 system and the make-up of the squad suggests that will be plan A for the season.
Throughout pre-season, Steve Davis has implemented a 4-2-3-1 system and the make-up of the squad suggests that will be plan A for the season.
Based on pre-season, it would appear that Charlie Grainger will start the season as number one choice in goal, with Sam Sargent having to settle for a place on the bench for the time being.
The defence that started against Arsenal U23s on Tuesday night is likely to be the one that starts at Gander Green Lane. Jake Caprice is likely to play at right-back despite Myles Judd featuring regularly last season. Josh Coulson and George Elokobi look set to be the preferred central defensive partnership at least initially. Joe Widdowson is likely to be the preferred choice at left-back. His understudy Christian Scales was not a part of the squad on Tuesday night which could indicate he has picked up some kind of knock.
In central midfield, Alex Lawless looks set to start. O’s captain Charlie Lee missed the last two pre-season friendlies due to a knee injury but he is thought to have recovered. However, whether he will be ready to start against Sutton remains to be seen. If he isn’t fit enough to make the first XI, Craig Clay is likely to partner Lawless in the heart of Orient’s midfield.
Jobi McAnuff is a strong contender to start, presumably on his favoured left flank. The personnel on the other flank seems less certain. Josh Koroma or Tristan Abrahams have played there during pre-season, but either James Dayton or Romauld Boco appear to be the more likely candidates to start on the right flank.
David Mooney has occupied the number 10 position just behind the striker in the matches leading up to the season opener and it would appear that he has made the position his own. However, McAnuff, Dayton and Moncur could also operate there.
Up front, Macauley Bonne will almost certainly start. The striker has shown promise since arriving from Colchester and he has delivered goals. Abrahams would probably the other main alternative, assuming Mooney occupies the number 10 role. Sam Dalby is behind in terms of fitness as he was carrying an injury at the start of pre-season. Although he has played since then, those games have been for the youth team, therefore it would appear that he won’t immediately be a part of the senior set-up.
Caprice Coulson Elokobi Widdowson
Boco Mooney McAnuff
Current youth coach Danny Webb had a short spell at Sutton United in 2008.
Saturday’s game will mark the first competitive meeting between Sutton United and Leyton Orient.
The O’s faced Sutton in July 2012 for a pre-season friendly that ended in an eight goal thriller. Kevin Lisbie put Orient in front just two minutes into the match, but the home side quickly equalised. Stefan Payne scored from the penalty spot to make it 1-1. Ryan Brunt found the net for the O’s mid-way through the first half, but hosts quickly pegged Orient back again through Kyle Vassell. Dean Cox restored Orient’s lead shortly before the interval.
In the second-half, Sutton won another penalty and Gareth Gwillim managed to get back on level terms for the third time. However, a brace from Afolabi Obafemi ensured a victory for Orient.
[textmarker color=”000000″ type=”background color”]Match Officials[/textmarker]
Nick Dunn & Kieran Bailey
Gander Green Lane
5,013 (765 seated)
The match will be live on BT Sport 1 and is a 12:30pm kick-off.