Kitch sees no quick fix for O’s at Exeter

Brian Jeeves
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Exeter City v Leyton Orient – Sky Bet League One – St James Park – Saturday (3pm) – Preview

Peter Kitchen acknowledged the difficulties facing Richie Wellens and his Leyton Orient side following promotion but doesn’t see a quick fix for the East Londoners when they take on high-flying Exeter City at St James Park in Sky Bet League One on Saturday.

Following two home games against early season pacesetters Cambridge United and Stevenage, the O’s run of tough League One fixtures continues against the current leaders with problems continuing to mount for Wellens.

“The Grecians are flying and full of confidence,” Kitchen told Yellow Sport.

“They have only lost one of their eight games this season, a narrow 1-0 defeat at much-fancied Portsmouth. They have won their last four, including a Carabao Cup win against Stevenage on penalties, enabling them to reach the third round of the competition for the first time in 34 years. Exeter won 1-0 at Burton Albion last week and have beaten Reading 2-1 at home the previous week and are definitely an in-form team. 

“The West Countrymen are managed by former Hibernian and Celtic player Gary Caldwell, a Scottish international with 55 caps to his name and who has the experience of managerial stints since 2015 at Wigan Athletic, Chesterfield, Partick Thistle and latterly Exeter.

“The Grecians will be looking to maintain their excellent start and with the home crowd behind them, they are sure to come at the O’s. They are an attack-minded side but are also very well organised and difficult to score against so this is certainly going to be a challenge for the O’s to get something from this game.” 

Kitchen continued: “The O’s last two league performances have been like chalk and cheese. They couldn’t have been more different.

A scintillating, fluid 2-0 home win against then table-topping Cambridge United, followed by an also-ran showing at home to Stevenage last week when they were bullied and bossed by the visitors losing 3-0 and showing that there are still several deficiencies for Wellens to sort out if they are to keep their League One status. 

“We know that Richie likes to play expansive football, keeping possession and not allowing the opposition to settle or dictate the play, but last week, Stevenage showed tactically how to combat this and we were out-fought and out-thought. If we are to compete in this league, we need to get more aggression into our game. 

“O’s added central defender Brandon Cooper to their ranks, loaning the player from Swansea City. However, along with another recent signing, Shaq Forde, he was sent off during Tuesday’s EFL Trophy defeat at Gillingham and now faces suspension. Indeed, discipline has been brought into question from certain sections of the crowd following a clutch of recent red cards, including two that were handed out to Wellens and his assistant, Paul Terry, during the defeat at Wycombe Wanderers. Nevertheless, once available, it will be interesting to see if this might preempt a change in formation with Richie using three centre defenders to tighten things up at the back. 

“With suspensions, injuries and adapting to their League One surroundings still an issue, it will be interesting to see how the manager sends his team out at Exeter.

“There is no doubt, we will have to be at our organisational best for this one if we are to avoid defeat or even get anything from the game. Whilst it’s still very early days and we’re not yet a quarter of the way through the season, the longer we go on not picking up points or showing more consistency in our play, the more this will generate unwanted pressure on the manager and his players.”

Peter Kitchen’s prediction: Exeter City 2-0 Leyton Orient

Jeevesie’s prediction: Exeter City 2-1 Leyton Orient

Brian Jeeves