Youthful Orient end losing run with useful point against Wigan
Leyton Orient (1) 1 Forde 18’
Wigan Athletic (1) 1 Humphrys 45+1’
Youthful exuberance was the order of the day as Leyton Orient ended a run of consecutive home defeats with a 1-1 draw against a Wigan Athletic side that would be troubling the third-tier play-off places were it not for points deducted.
Boss Richie Wellens had been left exasperated by a midweek defeat to Lincoln City, with an increasingly long injury list only further complicating his attempts to navigate Orient’s return to League One.
The O’s had arrested a sequence of one win in six following promotion last term with four victories in the six matches that followed, but results have taken a turn for the worse in recent weeks as a string of key players have become unavailable, forcing Wellens to rely on younger members of his squad.
However, it was a man returning from injury who made all of the early running for Wellens’ side as they set about ending a run of five without a win. Theo Archibald was back in the side at left wing-back and soon set about trying to get Orient back to winning ways.
Archibald first delivered a delightful cross that Joe Piggott could only head into the hands of Wigan goalkeeper Sam Tickle before wasting a presentable opportunity of his own moments later as he sliced an effort wide from just inside the penalty area.
His best attempt was a rasping drive from all of thirty yards that Tickle touched around the post, but by that time a pair of inexperienced team-mates had combined to put Orient ahead.
It was 19-year-old Shaq Forde who opened the scoring, with the Watford loanee latching on to a Ruel Sotiriou pass before taking a touch and bending a delightful shot beyond Tickle just as Orient started to find their rhythm.
Sotiriou, who is only 23 himself despite now having made almost 150 appearances for the O’s, regularly found spaces between Wigan’s defensive lines. Having been kept out by Tickle in the opening minutes, he was only denied an assist for Piggott by some last-ditch defending following some clever movement.
For all of Orient’s youthful exuberance in attack, a backline without absent stalwarts Omar Beckles and Adam Thompson lapsed at crucial moments.
Sol Brynn, signed on loan from Middlesbrough in the summer to replace League Two’s goalkeeper of the year Lawrence Vigouroux, showed some early nerves as he clattered Sean Clare long after the ball had gone and conceded a penalty within a minute of play.
Brynn was spared any meaningful embarrassment by his woodwork as Stephen Humphrys attempt from 12 yards clattered the left-hand post and rolled to safety.
However, Brandon Cooper was not so fortunate in the first minute of first-half injury time. The young defender conceded an innocuous foul on the far touchline after dallying in possession, and although Humphrys had proved ineffective from the spot, he was lethal from the edge of the box after a free kick was worked into his path.
Wellens, who had been perpetually coaching his youthful backline through the game, was left furious on the touchline, and that perhaps went some way to explaining why the second half was something of a non-event.
Orient seemingly closed ranks to prevent any further defensive mishaps and, one heroic last-ditch block by Dan Happe aside, they were rarely troubled by a Wigan side that is making light work of points deductions that saw them start the season at a disadvantage of eight.
One neat piece of interplay between Forde and Sotiriou aside, Orient hardly came close to ending their winless streak. But given Wellens labelled the loss to Lincoln as one of the worst performances of his tenure in east London, and the O’s are now five points clear of relegation danger, this was showing was a more than adequate response.
Leyton Orient: (5-2-3) Brynn – James, Cooper (Hunt 68), Happe, Turns, Archibald – Brown, El Mizouni – Sotiriou (Moncur 83), Forde (Agyei 83), Piggott (Drinan 68). Subs not used: Howes, Pratley, Galbraith
Wigan: (5-2-1-2) Tickle – Clare, Rekik, Hughes, Watts, Jones (Pearce 74) – Adeeko, Shaw – Lang (Magennis 74) – Humphrys (Sze 59), McManaman (Godo 57). Subs not used: Amos, Smith, McHugh