Tam relishes clocking on with big Ben

Orient defender Tamika Mkandawire, one of last season s star performers, is relishing the prospect of playing alongside new signing Ben Chorley, writes TEVOR DAVIES. The duo played together for the first 70 minutes of Saturday s high-profile friendly agai

Orient defender Tamika Mkandawire, one of last season's star performers, is relishing the prospect of playing alongside new signing Ben Chorley, writes TEVOR DAVIES.

The duo played together for the first 70 minutes of Saturday's high-profile friendly against Newcastle and kept a tight grip on the Magpies strike- force that included Obafemi Martins and Damien Duff.

Now, Makandawire is looking forward to the start of the League One campaign and hopes he and Chorley will form an impenetrable defensive barrier.

"I think it can be a really good partnership," said Mkandawire, who was the only Orient player to remain on the pitch for the entire 90 minutes.

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"It was good to play alongside Ben. He's a John Terry type of character, vocal and you know what you get with him. He's a big player and had a good season with Tranmere, and I'm sure we can form a really good partnership."

The former Hereford defender was delighted with Saturday's 6-1 success against Newcastle and admits it will be a big confidence booster for the season ahead.

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"There's no doubt about it, it was a good team performance and we did well," smiled Mkandawire, who finished the game with the captain's arm-band.

And he believes the fact that six Orient players hit the target is a good omen for the new campaign.

"We took our chances, which is something we didn't always do last season." he admitted, although he did not want to pile too much expectation on the team before they open their league campaign at Bristol Rovers in 11 days time.

"We have got to be realistic and not get too excited," he warned. "After all, it was only a pre-season friendly and we have got to keep our feet firmly on the floor."

Mkandawire knows that after conceding four goals at Billericay and losing to Ebbsfleet, Orient cannot afford to become too complacent before the season starts.

"There's still lots of work to be done, sometimes our passing wasn't as crisp as we'd like it to be and it's important we work on our defensive shape," he added.

Mkandawire, who has already been the subject of a bid by Millwall, and is being watched by several Championship sides, admitted he enjoyed playing against Newcastle's star-studded outfit.

"The pace of the game is slower, but you have to stay focused as they play off your shoulder and try to surprise you by playing out of your eye-line, but it was a good experience."

While he enjoyed playing against such class acts, Mkandawire shrugged off speculation about a move, insisting that he is happy at Orient.

"I just try and concentrate and block it out and stay focused," he said.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm an Orient player and I'm looking forward to the new season."

After Saturday's success the expectation levels will have risen at Brisbane Road, but Mkandawire insists there is no target for the new season: "Saturday's win was a big boost. But we will take each game as it comes.

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