Kitch’s concern over O’s cup of chance

Brian Jeeves

Chesterfield v Leyton Orient – Emirates FA Cup Second Round – SMH Group Stadium – Sunday (2pm) – Preview

Peter Kitchen is concerned that Leyton Orient could fall victim to an Emirates FA Cup upset when they take on runaway Vanarama National League leaders Chesterfield in a second-round tie at the SMH Group Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking to Yellow Sport ahead of the O’s trip to Derbyshire, Kitchen said: “We hope that this season is our chance for a good cup run and having already progressed through with a 3-1 victory over League One rivals Carlisle United, we are keen for a plum draw against the big boys in round three, should we see off the Spireites.

Of course, playing a side two levels below us would seem to offer us every chance of progressing. However, FA Cup football isn’t so much based on current form and this game presents the O’s with a potential banana skin and one that we have to be at our absolute best if we are to avoid slipping up.”

Kitchen continued: “Historically the cup has seen many ‘David versus Goliath’ encounters, and over the years thrown up some very unexpected results, which is why this competition is still so special and unique in world football. 

“For the lower leagues, the minnows and their players, it’s a chance to make money and history for their club and a name for themselves. Over the years we have all seen so many glorious giant-killing acts. Looking at this particular clash, I don’t think the draw was all that kind to Orient because Chesterfield will certainly not see themselves as underdogs and was an established Football League Club for many years until their relegation from the EFL in 2018. 

“They moved from their old Saltergate ground in 2010 to a brand new all-seater stadium, and are on their way back. This season they are emulating the likes of Wrexham and Notts County as run-away leaders of the National League. When a club gets it right both on and off the field and with this kind of momentum, they’re likely to be on a par with many teams in a league above them. Just look at the aforementioned Wrexham and Notts, who between them ran away with the National League last season and are currently second and sixth respectively in League Two. 

“The Spireites have been in scintillating form under manager Paul Cook, a very experienced ex-player, and now manager with a terrific CV. In a twenty-three-year playing career, he amassed over 640 appearances at clubs such as Norwich, Coventry, Wolves and Burnley to name just a few. His managerial credentials during a seventeen-year career are no less impressive with spells as boss at Wigan, Ipswich and Portsmouth and now in his second spell at Chesterfield, he looks almost certain to take them back into the EFL.

“They are eleven points clear of second-placed Bromley and have won seventeen of their twenty-one league games to date, losing only two. They were on a thirteen-match unbeaten sequence until losing 2-1 at Southend only a week ago. 

“In the previous round, they knocked out League One leaders Portsmouth 1-0 at home. Chesterfield score a lot of goals but are also very well organised defensively and on their day in front of a large partisan crowd, they will be very dangerous and present us with a massive challenge. 

Meanwhile, the O’s have seen their form dip recently and they have not won a league game in seven, although they have drawn five of those and have become the draw specialists in the division. That in itself isn’t a major problem unless we are losing more games. However, had we won half of those drawn games we would be much closer to the play-off places rather than only six points off fourth-bottom Fleetwood.”

Kitchen concluded: “If we continue in the same vein, we are in danger of being dragged into a scrap with the bottom teams, especially if they start picking up more points as Cheltenham and Reading have done recently. 

“During last week’s draw against Wigan, we played some excellent football, the most incisive I’ve seen this season and in the midweek game away at Bristol Rovers, we dominated the Pirates with sixty-three per cent of the possession but it took a freak own goal in added time for us to rescue a point.

“At the risk of repeating myself, we have to turn the possession and dominance into goals, but a cup game is the ideal setting to do that knowing there has to be a winner. 

If we continue to play forward more quickly and often and get more balls in the opposition box I think we will start to win more games. This cup tie is a tough one to call and it could go either way, a lot will depend on how much Richie and his players want to win this because they have to be prepared for a battle and to match the Spireites. But it does promise to be a very intriguing and entertaining encounter. I hope I’m wrong with my prediction.”

Peter Kitchen’s prediction: Chesterfield 2-1 Leyton Orient

Jeevesie’s prediction: Chesterfield 1-0 Leyton Orient

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk