Southend United v Leyton Orient – Sky Bet League Two – Roots Hall Stadium – Saturday 3pm – Preview
Peter Kitchen was as disappointed with Leyton Orient’s play-off damaging defeat to Cambridge United as much as any O’s fan. Nevertheless, the former frontman acknowledged the teams’ efforts and insisted the improvement over the past few weeks offered cause for optimism.
“It was an exciting end-to-end game with both teams attacking from the start,” Kitchen told Yellow Sport.
“We started on the front foot. Had Danny Johnson found his range, we could have been two up before Cambridge ultimately showed why they are at the top, taking the lead through Joe Ironside.
“Dan Kemp’s equaliser raised hopes and expectation – but it was a bridge too far. Perhaps news filtering through that Bolton and Cheltenham were winning at half-time had the desired effect on the visitors? They went for broke and dominated the second half. Shilow Tracey and then Paul Mullins from the spot appeared to have killed us, but credit where it is due – Conor Wilkinson’s header deflected home off Declan Drysdale – the fighting spirit in the O’s evident, even at this point.
“But Ironside grabbed his second. Cambridge had shown their class. The result came as a blow, particularly with Newport beating Crawley to establish a four-point advantage over us with a game in hand.
Kitchen continued: “I thought overall, our performance was more positive. We knocked the ball around confidently across the back and midfield but perhaps fell short because we didn’t do enough in the zones that matter like getting balls into the danger areas sooner and creating more chances. When we did, it caused Cambridge problems which was clear to see.
“I believe the team are certainly performing better since Jobi was installed as interim manager. Results suggest that the change should have been made at least six weeks sooner because now we are running out of games and opportunities to make the top seven.”
Looking ahead to Saturday’s trip to Southend, Kitchen added: “It is the last throw of the dice for both clubs, although the Shrimpers now need a miracle to avoid relegation to the National League following their midweek defeat at Colchester.
“But the game is about Orient for me. While there is still a mathematical chance we must go for it. Southend will be hurting – the proverbial wounded animal. But they don’t possess the same quality as Orient – We certainly can’t throw in the towel just yet.”
Peter Kitchen’s prediction: Southend United 1-2 Leyton Orient
Jeevesie’s prediction: Southend United 0-2 Leyton Orient