Embleton return can't prevent Orient slide to another home defeat
Leyton Orient 0 Scunthorpe United 2
This has not been the greatest of weeks for Leyton Orient.
A shocking FA Cup elimination at the hands of eighth-tier club Maldon & Tipree last Sunday led to the conclusion that new boss Carl Fletcher was simply the wrong appointment and he was axed.
His tenure had lasted just 29 days.
That has meant the return of Ross Embleton as interim boss, but he could not inspire his side to a first win in five games as they slipped to another disappointing home defeat – their fourth in the league.
“Embarrassing,” was how skipper Josh Coulson summed up the FA Cup loss last week.
This defeat was not as bad as that one, but deflating nonetheless, as the visitors have had their own struggles this season and started the day five points and five places below the Os in League Two.
Fletcher’s apparent inability to bond with a tight-knit group perhaps still coming to terms with the tragic loss of their manager Justin Edinburgh in the summer led to the inescapable conclusion that the club would have to go back to the drawing board.
The return of Embleton was greeted before kick-off with obvious joy by the third-best home gate of the season – 6,670 thanks partly to £5 ticket prices on offer for the match – who chanted his name affectionately. And there did seem a sense of unity and purpose on the field too.
“A good atmosphere is of paramount importance,” Embleton wrote in his programme notes, maybe hinting at the disruption to the delicate harmony among players and staff under Fletcher.
“We saw how the spirit reaped the rewards throughout the title-winning season last season and we know we’ve got an excellent group of players who will do their utmost to ensure this club moves forward in a positive manner.”
The game was only four minutes old when the Os fell behind – a low corner the defenders could not clear rolling out nicely to Alex Gilliead on the edge of the area, who drilled a perfect shot into the top corner, giving Dean Brill no chance.
Orient were quickly on the front foot, with the nimble footwork and pace of Louis Dennis unsettling The Iron. James Brophy stung the palms of keeper Jake Eastwood.
Yet it needed a last-ditch tackle from Sam Ling to prevent the Os from going 2-0 down just before the break and their obvious spirit did not translate into clear openings.
There was one when Brophy set up Dennis for an angled shot from 12 yards midway through the second half, but Eastwood saved with his feet.
The points vanished out of sight in the 79th minute when a breakaway saw Lee Novak given too much space to advance down the right and his unerring drive flew past Brill.
Defeat is far from catastrophic but five games without a win –if we ignore a penalties win in the Football League Trophy - is a sign of a wrong direction, of course and they will need to arrest the slide sooner rather than later.
Next up is Forest Green Rovers in a week’s time – again on home soil. Given their recent travails at the Breyer Group Stadium, that may not necessarily be a good thing.
Line up: Brill – Ling, Ekpiteta, Coulson, Happe (Angol 65) - Wright Clay, Brophy – McGuire-Drew, Harrold, Dennis (Alabi 74). Subs not used: Sargeant, Gorman, Marsh, Turley, Ogie.