No Elokobi? No problem for Orient this time around
PUBLISHED: 12:00 16 August 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
Marvin Ekpiteta has stepped up to the plate in the absence of the experienced defender
Leyton Orient will be without George Elokobi for the foreseeable future after he suffered an injury last week, but it does offer Marvin Ekpiteta and Dan Happe a deserved chance.
Justin Edinburgh started the new season with a centre back pairing of Josh Coulson and Elokobi, but the latter picked up a hamstring problem during the 1-1 draw with Ebbsfleet United on August 7.
The experienced defender went down inside the first minute of the clash at the Breyer Group Stadium and was replaced by Ekpiteta.
After catching the eye during pre-season, the ex-East Thurrock United centre back impressed off the bench against Fleet and then played 90 minutes during the 2-2 draw on Saturday with Barrow.
He continued his excellent form with a goal on Tuesday night in Orient’s 2-1 victory at Maidstone United and the way the club have dealt with Elokobi’s injury this season is in complete contract to last September.
When the former Wolverhampton Wanderers suffered a serious hamstring injury away to Boreham Wood at the start of the previous season, O’s failed to win any of their next 14 league fixtures – losing nine of them.
It has been a different story so far this time around and while Elokobi’s injury has been confirmed as a grade two tear, it will not require surgery and should only keep him out for a couple of months.
Nevertheless, O’s midfielder Alex Lawless is confident Ekpiteta can step up to the plate over the next few weeks.
The midfielder said of Orient’s young centre back: “People don’t get to see what Marvin does in training, but us lads do.
“Marvin’s performances in the pre-season games and in the draw with Ebbsfleet is no surprise to the squad given the way he trains and applies himself.”
While Ekpiteta has a place in the starting XI at the moment, he will know Dan Happe is breathing down his neck and Edinburgh can also use Joe Widdowson there too.
The O’s boss has lots of options all over the pitch and this Saturday may see new signing Dale Gorman in the matchday squad for the first time when Boreham Wood visit.
He played an hour in a game at Orient’s training ground on Friday (August 10) and is now pushing for a spot in the 16-man squad for this weekend’s National League clash.
O’s will be looking to secure their first home win after draws with Ebbsfleet and Barrow this season – where they conceded late goals in both games.
In those matches, Orient have been in the lead, but failed to hold on and Lawless feels it is important they show more of a clinical edge.
He added: “I think we saw how much influence the crowd can have against Ebbsfleet because the noise at certain moments was great and we just need to try and score a few more goals and keep people happy.
“We have quite a few home games in the first month and the pitch is lovely, so hopefully we can take advantage of that.”