Kitch urges O’s to relish the Rams’ challenge

Brian Jeeves

Derby County v Leyton Orient – Sky Bet League One – Pride Park – Saturday (3pm) – Preview

Peter Kitchen ran the rule over Leyton Orient’s frustrating Sky Bet League One draw with Exeter City but insisted they are in a good place ahead of Saturday’s trip to promotion-chasing Derby County.

Speaking to Yellow Sport, the former O’s frontman said: “It looked like we would continue to confound the form book by following up our excellent 3-1 win against Cheltenham last Saturday with another win in midweek against in-form Exeter City when they were 2-0 ahead with only three minutes remaining. 

“However, we were unable to hold onto the lead and allowed the visitors to take a share of the spoils when they equalised in added time to make it two-all. Manager, Richie Wellens said he intended to give some of his younger players some game time and made five changes to the side that did so well against the Robins, but with his side already missing several key players, expectations of us doing well with a much-changed side again weren’t especially high. 

“In addition, the Grecians came to E10 with a six-game unbeaten run, having won their last two including a 1-0 win over Stevenage and they were determined to win this one when they took the game to the O’s from the start. Despite Exeter dominating possession and with an eye-catching sixteen shots against only three from the O’s, it was the home side who went in at half-time with a 1-0 lead, courtesy of another goal from Ollie O’Neil who scored on thirty-six minutes directly from a corner. 

“After the break, substitute George Moncur made it 2-0 just after the hour, and the O’s looked likely to make it two wins on the bounce until Exeter’s late rally. Overall, I think Richie will be pleased with the way his players have stepped up to the plate and are giving a good account of themselves in recent games.”

Kitchen continued: “We are currently in a good place to face up to the formidable challenge posed by Derby County at Pride Park this Saturday. County won 3-0 in E10 back in mid-December, when we were still finding our feet in League One, but we have since put down some solid foundations and have more than stabilised ourselves and our position in this division. 

“This game, for the O’s players, is a very exciting encounter and they should all be looking forward immensely to pitting themselves against one of the best teams in this league in front of a fervent and partisan crowd of over 30,000. 

“Derby are a massive club who are on their way back up the EFL ladder. They are firm favourites to take one of the automatic promotion places, with leaders Portsmouth looking almost certain to be champions and with only Bolton Wanderers breathing down their necks and able to overtake them. 

“The Rams are in a very good vein of form and have lost only one of their last seven and drew 2-2 at Pompey last time out. They will certainly put what might be a makeshift O’s side under immense pressure. Derby are four games from returning to the Championship, they can’t afford to stumble at this stage so this is a game they must win. It will challenge every aspect of our team’s make-up, from the character, temperament and desire of individual players, how the manager sets up his team and the system and tactics he uses and collectively as a team their resolve, team spirit and togetherness.”

Kitchen concluded: “For the O’s, sitting comfortably in tenth place, the result isn’t quite so important, but the way we perform and acquit ourselves will be telling. Every O’s player should be excited and highly motivated because these are the clubs, the stadiums and the crowds that they should want to play at and in front of every week and it will be a test of how far we’ve come this season and how far many can go.”  

Peter Kitchen’s prediction: Derby County 3-1 Leyton Orient

Jeevesie’s prediction: Derby County 2-0 Leyton Orient

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk