One year after and it’s Rovers return!
FORMER Orient manager Martin Ling parted company with the club almost exactly a year ago, writes TREVOR DAVIES. Ling, who was the sixth longest-serving manager in the English professional leagues at the time, left Brisbane Road on Sunday, January 18, 200
FORMER Orient manager Martin Ling parted company with the club almost exactly a year ago, writes TREVOR DAVIES.
Ling, who was the sixth longest-serving manager in the English professional leagues at the time, left Brisbane Road on Sunday, January 18, 2009 - following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Bristol Rovers.
By a strange quirk of fate, the fixture computer sends The Pirates back to Brisbane Road on exactly the same weekend as last season!
However, although the O's find themselves in an identical league position when Ling departed, it's unlikely new boss Geraint Williams would suffer a similar fate, whatever the outcome of Saturday's encounter with Rovers.
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The weekend's clash against The Pirates is followed by another home match against Yeovil next Tuesday and gives the Os's a realistic chance to put some daylight between themselves and the drop zone.
The O's boss will be boosted by the return of several key players on Saturday.
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When Orient played their last game against Southend at the end of December, Williams' side were missing both regular full backs.
Skipper Stephen Purches has now recovered from illness and Charlie Daniels is fit again after sustaining an ankle injury during the Boxing Day clash at Brighton.
The duo are set to return to the side and Sean Thornton will be available again following a one-game ban, while Ryan Jarvis has also recovered from illness.
New signing Jonathan T�hou� also comes into contention and is likely to start in one of the two home matches.
The 25-year-old, who joined this week, has played top-flight football in France, Belgium and Turkey, and Williams is also hoping to bring one or two more players in on loan.
One of his targets is a defender and the boss said: "We're looking to bring one or two in if we can afford it. It will give the squad a fillip and keep everyone on their toes.
"Something could happen before the weekend." However, the O's boss will be without centre half Ben Chorley, who faces a one-game ban after picking up five yellow cards and there will be no Andros Townsend either, following his return to Spurs.
Two good results in the space of four days could shoot Orient up the table and put a much rosier complexion on things.
It's ironic that a year after Ling's departure, Bristol Rovers will be the visitors again and there has been little change during the last 12 months.
Williams made an instant impression when he arrived at Brisbane Road as nine victories in his first 16 games lifted the club out of the relegation zone and ensured safety with three games to spare.
However, the core of Ling's team remains and 11 of the squad that were named for the visit of Bristol Rovers a year ago are likely to be involved at the weekend.
Jamie Jones has edged ahead of Glenn Morris in the goalkeeping stakes in the last 12 months, but the defence has a very familiar look about it.
Purches and Daniels are still the first-choice full back pairing along with Tamika Mkandawire at the heart of the rearguard.
With Luke Summerfield and Townsend departing after loan spells at Orient, at least three of the midfielders who played against Rovers last January are likely to start on Saturday.
Poor home form and a lack of goals proved fatal for Ling. This time last year the O's had netted just 10 league goals in 12 home games and only won twice in front of their own fans.
This season the O's have picked up 15 points at home and scored 17 goals and have a great chance to improve upon that record.
A decent points return over the next few days should keep the Brisbane Road natives happy for a little longer.