Peter Kitchen: Missing the top ten shouldn’t deter from the progress O’s have made…

Brian Jeeves

Shrewsbury Town v Leyton Orient – Sky Bet League One – Croud Meadow – Saturday (12:30pm) – Preview

Peter Kitchen previewed Leyton Orient’s final Sky Bet League One game of the season, at Shrewsbury Town, as well as running the rule over an otherwise satisfactory campaign for the East Londoners under the guidance of Richie Wellens.

Speaking to Yellow Sport ahead of Saturday’s lunchtime clash at the Croud Meadow, Kitchen said: “The O’s face what appears to be a fairly meaningless game away at Shrewsbury for their last game of the season. However, the Shrews might have other ideas because they will want to end their season on a high in front of the home fans and are desperate for a win. 

“Orient will also be aware that the expected tenth-placed finish now looks to be in real danger of being snatched away from them and that may just provide some additional motivation for the manager and players before they start packing the sunscreen and flip-flops.”

Kitchen continued: “Recent results for the O’s have meant that several clubs look set to leapfrog them if they don’t take all three points on Saturday. Wycombe Wanderers – who have already moved above us into tenth after a draw at Cambridge United in midweek – play at home to Charlton, and both Exeter and Wigan Athletic are also at home to Oxford United and Bristol Rovers respectively. 

“If all three were to win their games, it would see us drop to thirteenth in the League One table. Richie Wellens probably sees the importance of this game in the same way as he has already said he will likely give some of his fringe and younger players an outing and he was also intending to let departing coach Matt Harrold take charge of the team for the day as a goodwill gesture for his loyalty and service over the seven years he has been at the club as a player and coach. 

“Shrewsbury has had a poor season. When former manager, Paul Hurst returned in late January of this year, he was the third incumbent of the job since June of last year, with both Steve Cotterill and Matt Taylor departing since then. Their recent form has seen them without a win in their last six games, however, they have drawn four of those. 

“Shrewsbury are safe from any threat of relegation in eighteenth, but that is as much down to how poor and inconsistent the bottom five teams have been all season. I can’t see this being a highly competitive match and whether the O’s finish tenth or thirteenth will make little difference to most fans because they are generally very pleased with how their team has performed back in League One over the season as a whole. 

“From a very poor start when they suffered five straight defeats, to a gradual improvement where we evolved to become the League One draw specialists. 

“A blip in November and December when we lost five and drew two, including an FA Cup second-round exit at National League Chesterfield. A stunning turnaround in fortunes with an eight-game unbeaten run from Christmas into February including eye-catching wins over Champions Portsmouth and third-placed Bolton Wanderers, before finally running out of steam. 

“The eventual league position won’t do justice to the fact that we almost grabbed a play-off place and without doubt, our inconsistency in the final run-in was a direct consequence of an unfortunate spate of serious injuries to key and influential players. 

“It should also be noted that the spine of the team has been made up of loan players for much of the season, from goalkeeper Sol Brynn, Brandon Cooper, later signed permanently, Idris El Mizouni, Ethan Galbraith and Shaq Forde who have all done a great job of helping us to consolidate a League One position.”

Kitchen concluded: “Irrespective of Saturday’s result, the attention from next week onwards will turn to the retained list. It’s going to be a busy summer for both Richie and Director of Football Martin Ling because we will need to resign or replace most of the loan players and we clearly need more depth and quality in the squad to be able to build on this season and to push on.” 

Peter Kitchen’s prediction: Shrewsbury Town 1-1 Leyton Orient

Jeevesie’s prediction: Shrewsbury Town 1-2 Leyton Orient

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Brian Jeeves

Email: sport@yellowad.co.uk