Leyton Orient’s leaders stepped up to the mark at Aldershot Town
PUBLISHED: 11:00 25 September 2017
Simon O'Connor Photography
Craig Clay, Alex Lawless, Josh Coulson and Jobi McAnuff were excellent, as Steve Davis saw his team battle back to earn a point on Saturday
A week after Steve Davis admitted Leyton Orient lacked leaders, his key players stepped up to the mark away at Aldershot Town on Saturday
Following the 2-1 defeat at home to Hartlepool United on September 16, the O’s head coach conceded he didn’t have enough ‘men’ on the pitch against the Monkey Hangers.
But the likes of Craig Clay and Alex Lawless were brilliant at the Recreation Ground after a tough opening 35 minutes.
Meanwhile Jobi McAnuff showed his class against the Shots and the bravery of Josh Coulson also made a big difference.
Lawless and Clay initially struggled against Manny Oyeleke in particular, but eventually they got the better of their rivals and turned the game in O’s favour with an excellent performance both individually and collectively.
Davis, when asked about the pair, said: “They kept going and that is what I want to see from the players.
“I don’t want to see people hide or duck out, I want them to compete and Craig and Alex did very well.
“Craig kept going after a difficult start and it was a very nervy 30 minutes and they were at sixes and sevens in the middle of the pitch, but it is about sticking at it.
“They both showed character and come out on top in the end because I thought they dominated the second period.”
Captain for the day Lawless really led from the front and constantly urged the rest of his team-mates on.
The 32-year-old is one of many summer signings to have received criticism for some of his displays this season, but was outstanding in the second half.
What also made a big difference for Orient was the return of Coulson and he showed his commitment.
Davis had hoped the Cambridge United loanee would be fit to face the Shots, but the centre back only trained once before the match.
Yet, the 28-year-old said he wanted to play, despite his recent groin troubles, and was impressive for O’s.
He showed his frustration after both goals and also appeared to help Jamie Sendles-White settle down after a difficult first half.
For a loan player, Coulson could try to look after himself and not play through the pain, but he put the team first and is proving to be one of the signings of the summer.
The defender was struggling for much of the second half with his groin and yet only came off once he had seen Rommy Boco level.
Davis added: “Josh just kept going and that is what he does. He hasn’t trained apart from the day before the match and he has been doing a lot of work separately from the squad.
“He was literally lumped in because he wants to play and doesn’t want to miss games and that’s a great attitude to have and they all have that attitude.
“In the end the groin got the better of him and it became sore and we have an able replacement on the side when we need it in Dan Happe.”
After such a difficult opening 35 minutes at Aldershot, Orient left the Rec pondering whether they should have claimed all three points.
Craig Clay saw a late header cleared off the line after Macauley Bonne had a low shot deflected wide moments earlier.
In the end, a draw was probably a fair result and considering the Shots were top, it was a point gained for O’s.
“We should get a boost from this match and hopefully we take it into training and the game with AFC Fylde,” said Davis.
You hope Saturday can be a big turning point for Orient. They showed their character and fight and need to continue this now.