Declan McCarthy provides an in-depth analysis of Saturday’s League Two encounter and what this means for the O’s going forward…
Leyton Orient suffered a 4-0 thrashing against a well fitted and critical Northampton side who currently sit at the top of League Two.
But it wasn’t without a fight as Orient matched the Cobblers with a good first half performance. However, the East Londoner’s could only manage to contain the visitors up until the 55th minute when Rod McDonald scored an overhead kick.
The first goal was followed by a moment of magic as Ricky Holmes scored a sublime goal, and to make matters worse for Orient, James Collins settled the tie with two late goals.
But what did we learn?
1) Northampton are the real deal.
The win for Northampton stretches their winning streak to seven games in a row as the Cobblers continue their march to League One.
The league leaders also bolster a mean attack scoring 55 goals this campaign – the highest in the division.
Northampton manager Chris Wilder has not just got a strong starting XI but also has the luxury to have a hungry, hardworking bench. This showed in the performances of Lawson D’Ath, Jason Taylor and Ryan Cresswell, who all made an impact to the match when introduced by Wilder.
2) Orient need to take their chances.
Despite the scoreline Orient did pose a threat during the match. The O’s matched Northampton in the first half and a chance from Jay Simpson, if converted, could have changed the course of the game.
Another opportunity arose in the second half when substitute Armand Gnanduillet crossed low and hard from the left-hand-side and Kevin Nolan, sliding in, was inches away from tapping in from five yards out. Only in time will we see a fitter, faster Nolan who would have poked that opportunity into the back of the net.
If Orient take their chances, matches will favour them. This is something that will come in time as Nolan implements his way of play into the Orient side.
3) Nolan Is getting better.
Player-manager Nolan is getting there. The 33-year-old arguably had his best performance of the season in an Orient shirt and while that was Nolan’s first competitive start for Orient it could way up the future he still has as a player for Leyton Orient.
Nolan, the former West ham midfielder, linked up really well with Jack Payne and Sammy Moore in the first half. In the second it was harder to judge as it was clear Nolan is still not up to 100 per cent match fitness, but this will only come with the more game time Nolan has.
As an overall on Nolan’s performance, he could prove to be a fundamental player for Leyton Orient in a formidable midfield consisting of Payne, Moore and the player-manager himself.
4) Can’t let defeat stump the O’s form.
Before the disappointing defeat, the O’s picked up a valuable three points at Play-Off rivals Portsmouth and picked up nine points from a possible 12 in the last few weeks. So not all is that bad.
The big worry is the goals sailing into the back of the Orient net, in particular at home at the Matchroom Stadium – Orient have now conceded 12 goals in their last five home matches.
Nonetheless, Orient are looking like an experienced side.
With the January additions of Nicky Hunt and Nolan (as player/manager) the two players together bring a vast amount of experience to the East London club, with the latter stages of the season just around the corner, Orient will need this experience in order for them to bolster a final surge which could see the O’s inside the Play-Off zone come May.
5) Jay Simpson is the key to Orient’s success.
It goes without saying Jay Simpson is the key for success at Orient. His 22 goals this season have accumulated up to 55 per cent of Orients’ goals this season in League Two.
Simpson, 27, looked to be struggling with heading/fronting the formation of 4-1-4-1 continuously finding himself isolated in the match against Northampton. Past performances have suggested Nolan may revert to the 4-4-2 formation, partnering Ollie Palmer and Simpson together, which proved to be so successful for the former Hull striker throughout the season.
Getting Simpson scoring again will prove to be a huge factor if Orient are to have a strong end to the season.