Simpson looking to get Orient back in the play-off positions
16:00 08 January 2016
Simon O'Connor Photography
League Two’s top goalscorer believes club can move back up the table this month
Leyton Orient’s in-form forward Jay Simpson isn’t satisfied yet, despite hitting the 20-goal mark on Saturday and is still confident he can lead the club to promotion.
The 27-year-old’s two strikes at Stevenage last weekend made him the first O’s player since Peter Kitchen to hit 20 goals during a league campaign.
Kitchen achieved the milestone back in the 1977/78 season, but only finished with a total of 21.
Simpson is just one goal behind that figure with 21 matches left of the League Two campaign to demonstrate how good he has been for the club this year.
A lot of talk of late has been about whether Orient can keep hold of him during January, but the former Arsenal youngster is happy at Brisbane Road.
“It is a nice accolade to have and I’m delighted to get to 20, but there is a long way to go in the season so hopefully a lot more to come,” said Simpson.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone, I haven’t heard anything about clubs coming in for me, but obviously the window is open.
“I’ve just gone out at Stevenage and done what has been asked of me and done my job so I will continue to do that.”
Without Simpson’s goals on Saturday, the chants from the Orient supporters towards head coach Hendon would have been even more vocal.
A large section called for him to leave after the 2-2 draw, but the division’s top goalscorer was full of praise for his boss.
Last year, under four different managers, Simpson only scored eight times for Orient. His previous best season was back in 2009/10 at QPR when he scored 13 times, but this year he has been a revelation under the management of Hendon.
While results of late have not included as many victories as the east Londoners would have liked, the players are still confident of having a successful year.
The O’s are eighth in the table and two points off a play-off spot going into the FA Cup weekend, where they are without a match.
If they had beaten Scunthorpe on December 15 they would have been playing Chelsea in the third round on Sunday. But they are now without a match and are next in action on January 16 when they host Exeter City.
“At the beginning of the season, when we won five on the spin, it put us in a great position,” said Simpson.
“We have dropped a lot of points since then, but the first five victories is what has helped us stay close to the play-offs.
“We are not far off and we are only just in the second half of the season so there’s a lot of games to be played.
“I think if we can turn some of our draws into wins and start getting back-to-back victories then I am sure we will get back up into the play-off positions and start looking up the table.”
If Orient are to make the top seven this year they will need to keep hold of Simpson this month.
Clubs will no doubt try to prize the leading goalscorer in England’s top four divisions away from Brisbane Road, but it seems like he is happy to stay.
Hendon’s men haven’t lost many matches of late, but have drawn far too many.
A top-three finish looks a tough ask now, but if they can add to the squad well in January and keep hold of Simpson – a good season can still be on the cards.
This month, however, will be crucial to whether 2016 is a successful year for Orient or not.