Sam Ling desperate to get Leyton Orient back into Football League after finally making home debut
PUBLISHED: 14:00 12 March 2018
Simon O'Connor Photography
Ling showed his character on and off the pitch by taking ownership of his mistake for Fleet’s goal and producing an accomplished display after
Sam Ling wants to help Leyton Orient get back to where they belong after making his long-awaited home debut for the club on Saturday during their 1-1 National League draw with Ebbsfleet United.
The 21-year-old returned to Brisbane Road on February 7 – just 18 months after he was released by the old ownership.
Ling never made his debut for O’s while he was a scholar, despite being on the substitutes’ bench 17 times during his first spell in E10, and even once he came back to the club he had to wait over a month before playing at home.
Eventually it arrived on Saturday afternoon and although the former Dagenham & Redbridge defender made a mistake for Corey Whitely’s opener, he made amends with a superb through ball for the leveller and was generally impressive throughout.
“I’ve waited a long time to make my home debut in front of our amazing fans, but I’m happy I’ve finally got it under my belt,” said Ling. “Hopefully I can kick on now and get some more game time in front of our supporters.”
O’s involvement in the FA Trophy has limited Ling’s first-team involvement so far, but now they are out of the competition he is likely to be a regular in defence.
The son of Orient director of football Martin is a right-back by trade, but is comfortable on the left of a back four and can also play in the centre of midfield if needed.
Even though he has only played three times for his new club, his quality and potential has been clear to see from the start.
And given his own connection to O’s, he would love nothing more than to get them back into the Football League as quick as possible.
Ling said: “I was over the moon to be able to come back. The progress the club will be making it was too hard to say no.
“It’s moving in the right direction again and the only way is up and hopefully we can get this football club back where it belongs.”
For the time being, Orient are 15th in the table, but now nine points ahead of the bottom four following Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ebbsfleet.
It was Ling who switched off to allow Whitely to riffle home the opening goal in the 15th minute, but his fine pass set James Brophy away with 32 played and the wingers centre was turned in by Fleet captain Dave Winfield.
When asked to reflect on the game, the young defender said: “I feel like it was bad from me for the goal they scored.
“I switched off, we all switched off, but primarily it is my man who scored at the end of the day, but I think it showed great character from the lads to bounce back the way we did and to play a part in it I’m more than happy.”
The draw ended a mini losing run of two games for O’s following defeats away to Dover Athletic (league) and Gateshead in the FA Trophy
On Tuesday, Torquay United will be the next team to visit Brisbane Road and Ling and his team-mates are desperate to enjoy some strong form between now and the end of the campaign.
He added: “It was a fair result against a good Ebbsfleet side, but we always want to take the three points.
“I feel like we dominated so just a point was not what we were looking for, but we’ll take it and the unbeaten run starts now and with 10 games left hopefully we can kick on.”