August To December 2014
And so it began, as someone once said somewhere some time. In the space of little more than 3 months, Emile Heskey had gone from Newcaste Jets player, to unemployed player, to unemployed manager, to Leyton Orient manager and that 3 month period of self discovery all culminated here. The first half of his first campaign.
Sky Bet League 1
Predicted to finish 1st, there was an element of pressure on the Leyton Orient squad going into their first match. But, with the additions of James Wilson, Ryan McLaughlin and Luke Garbutt, all playing the first game, everyone knew it would be a win. Nothing like a 3-0 win to kickstart your campaign.
The rest of August
went down smoothly, bar one hitch. Despite beating Chesterfield, Oldham, Walsall and Fleetwood, Leyton came undone against a strong Bristol City side, losing 5-2. Despite this, Leyton sat in 3rd position after 5 games
After a lengthy break, September
turned out to be a very positive month for the O's as the frustration of 3 consecutive draws was soon forgotten as they complimented them with back to back victories. An undefeated month saw Leyton finish 3rd after 10 matches, trailing Bristol City by 4 points.
James Wilson showed his incredible skills in the early parts of the season; despite missing 2 weeks through injury he bagged 5 goals in the opening 2 months.
After an impressive 7 game unbeaten run, October
saw Heskey's men finally slip up, losing to Swindon 2-3. They were unpertubed by the hiccup however, winning 3 of their next 4 games for the month and being reward by sitting in 2nd place after 15 games.
With the marauding Bristol City dominating the league, Leyton Orient only had to consolidate their position in November
, but were unable to do so with a shaky end to the month. After 2 comfortable wins, they experienced a shock 2-0 loss to Gillingham on the road and only recovered marginally to draw with Bradford 2-2. After that hiccup, the O's finished the month in 3rd place after 19 games
Written off at the start of the season, Kevin Lisbie proved himself to be valuable despite his age, coming off the bench as a shocktrooper up front.
After a slightly disappointing month, December
unfortunately wasn't much of an improvement as Leyton picked up just 5 points from 4 games. A 3-0 thrubbing at the hands of Barnsley wasn't the best Christmas gifts for O's fans, but luckily they hung on to finish in 4th place after the first half of the season.
Sky Bet League 1 Table
So after half a season, Bristol City appear to be the favourites for promotion. Leyton have been far from disappointing, but you'd like to think they can improve on that 4th place with the players they have.
After a strenous league run, Leyton Orient were drawn against fellow League 1 side Walsall
in their 1st Round clash. Prodigious striker James Wilson was simply too much for the Swifts to handle, striking twice in the first half to down Walsall 2-1
Walsall were far from tricky, so it came as a huge relief when they were drawn against League 2 side Stevenage
in the Second Round. The fans expected big, and they sure got it as they raced away to a massive 5-0 lead at half time. James Wilson and Darius Henderson had both amassed braces by this stage, and they both added goals in the second half to record a monumentous 7-1
win, including not one, but two hat tricks.
After a relatively easy draw getting Stevenage, Leyton's luck ran out, drawing Sky Bet Championship side Bournemouth
. Currently sitting in 2nd, the promotion hopefuls will be a hard task for the O's but even a respectable loss will be good enough for the pessimistic fans.
Capital One Cup
The League Cup is always an odd fixture for lower league English clubs; lacking the prestige of the FA Cup and the non-importance of the Johnstone Paint Trophy. But for Leyton Orient fans, they didn't have to worry about it for long as they lost out in the 1st Round to Newport County
. With a heavily rotated XI, Leyton lost 2-0
to the League 2 side. Could this be a blessing in disguise however?
Johnstone Paint Trophy
With no pressure from the board, Heskey could experiment with his squad in the Johnstone Paint Trophy and used the opportunity to play some of his rotation players.
In their first round clash with AFC Wimbledon
, the O's were non-plussed by their heavy favourites tag and got off to a flyer. Stand-in captain Darius Henderson scored 3 minutes in whilst 17 year old sensation Tony Leese executed a fine header himself. After the break, Leyton extended their lead considerably, with Henderson bagging a further 2 goals to secure a hat trick and an eventual 5-1 win
for Leyton Orient.
Fellow League 1 club Colchester
awaited them in the 2nd Round, and with the inclusion of Jimmy Wilson the writing was on the wall from the start for the U's, as the 18 year old turned a 1-0 lead for Colchester into a 2-1 lead for Leyton. Mathieu Baudry added the 3rd and although Colchester got a consolation goal late, the result was a 3-2 win
to the O's.
As well as setting up James Wilson for 7 cup goals, Darius Henderson scored 6 himself, all of them coming from hat tricks in the Wimbledon and Stevenage games.
After some scintillating cup performances against equal and better sides, Luton
didn't seem like the most intimidating of opponents and some may argue it was complacency that defeated Leyton Orient. A quick one-two punch from Luton in the first half gave them an unassaible lead, and the 2-1 loss
for the O's sees them bow out of their second cup competition.
Despite being just 18, James Wilson showed why he has an EPL brace to his name with some truly spectacular goalscoring feats. Often scoring in the first half hour, and often multiple times, his speed is a real worry for opposition defenders as much as his finishing. He's also formed an excellent pairing with target man Darius Henderson and could well go on to win personal accolades this season.
Expected to tussle with Elliott Omozusi for that right back spot, McLaughlin truly made it his own, constantly out-performing his older rival and giving Heskey plenty of reasons to select him. His attacking style has showed on occasion, but mostly he leaves Garbutt to attack and instead plays as a solid, defensive minded full back. The Liverpool loanee has proved himself to be a great pick up for literally nothing.
Whilst McLaughlin patrols the right, Garbutt provides width on the left flank, using his brilliant crossing skills to cover for Dean Cox, who usually cuts inside. The 21 year old went on an amazing run in the early parts of the season, scoring 3 consecutive Player Of The Match awards and stunning the league with some great free kick goals. A real staple of the Leyton Orient first XI and one of the league's finest full backs.
Now A Word From...
It was certainly a very positive start to the season, going on some nice runs but there were a few let downs here and there. Overall, I think we're doing well, gotten into the rhythm of the league but now we need to work on rising into those automatic promotion spots. We've got the personnel and now we just need the mindset, and I'll be sure to start pumping my boys up for a promotion run.
I think it's been a very successful campaign thus far for the O's, definitely some positive signs and they'll be up there at the end of the season. When you've got players like James Wilson and Jesse Lingard firing the way they are you're always a shot, and going on that, when Wilson's on the park you can never write them off. His goalscoring ability never ceases to amaze me, if he keeps it up Leyton are sure to get promoted come season's end.
As captain of the club, it's been amazing to see just how uplifting Heskey is. He really brings morale to the camp, especially with the form we're in. For the time being I'm content to rotate through the squads, because Shane, Mathieu and Tony are playing superbly. I'd like to mention Tony as well, because at 17 it's tough to play in the heart of defence but he seems to do it with ease. He's a real presence, physically, which always helps and I reckon he's destined for great things.
I've been pretty determined to prove that I'm no one-brace wonder, that I can back up my performance last season in the Prem, and coming to Leyton has been amazing in helping me prove myself. Playing alongside Darius, who's teached me a lot about the game, has been incredible and we've really played well on the pitch as well. I'm in a rich vein of form at the moment, finding the net often, and I hope I can prove to my coaches back in Manchester just how good I am with some more goals this year.
Can't talk now, on urgent s- erm, urgent business for Heskey. You didn't see me....
Next Time on "Emile Heskey - Rebuilding The Reputation"
The authorative voice was not asking a question, he was demanding it. Owen was not easily intimidated, but he knew a powerful figure when he heard one. He sat.