I knew Harrold would be ready, says O’s boss
- Credit: Archant
The forward returned from a three-game ban to score his sixth goal of the season in dramatic fashion on Saturday
Justin Edinburgh insisted he knew Leyton Orient forward Matt Harrold would be ready to make an impact in the National League title race despite his recent red card.
The experienced forward missed games with AFC Fylde, Barnet and Bromley after being sent off in the 2-1 victory at AFC Telford United in the FA Trophy semi-final second leg.
Before Harrold received his marching orders in what appeared harsh fashion, he had scored his third goal in the competition to put O’s on their way to Wembley.
Upon returning to selection, Edinburgh had no doubts about the 34-year-old and putting him on the bench for the visit of Halifax Town on Saturday provided decisive with the substitute scoring in the 94th minute to snatch a point in the 2-2 draw.
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“Matt come into this game off the back of a three-match suspension, but prior to that he was in his best form for a period,” Orient’s manager said.
“He was disappointed with the red, but I knew he would be ready and when you throw people on you hope they have an impact and all three did.”
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While it was Harrold who scored the goal, fellow substitute Jordan Maguire-Drew produced the cross into the area and James Dayton, who also come on, saw his shot blocked before the ball came to the O’s striker.
In the end a point for Orient felt pivotal considering they went two goals down in the first half.
Poor defending all-round, although especially from Josh Coulson, saw Manny Duku head home the opener for Halifax from close range in the ninth minute.
It was 2-0 in the first minute of time added on at the end of the first 45 when Joe Widdowson was unable to win the ball off Devante Rodney and the Shaymen attacker curled into the corner.
Fortunately O’s produced a response virtually immediately with Josh Koroma rifling home from the edge of the area with almost the last kick of the half.
Orient then peppered the Halifax goal throughout the second period and eventually got reward in the fourth minute of stoppage time thanks to super-sub Harrold.
It was a fourth goal of 2019 for the former Crawley Town forward and it is fair to say he has probably been the club’s most productive striker this year.
Macauley Bonne had a stunning first half to the season, but has only found the net five times since January 1.
Josh Koroma, meanwhile, has been out injured for a lengthy period of time, though is back and firing again now while Jay Simpson has yet to show his true quality since his February arrival.
Edinburgh said: “You are not going to go through your whole career scoring endless goals week in, week out, so this is a period, but Macauley contributes in different ways.”
After failing to win their last three matches, Orient will be desperate to pick up three points on Tuesday when Eastleigh visit E10.
It will not be easy for O’s against a side currently seeking a play-off spot, but Edinburgh is confident.
“These are exciting times and nervy times, but I back this group and I think it has shown in their end to the Halifax game,” he said.
“We always have pressure so I disagree the pressure will be on against Eastleigh. If you play at this stadium for Orient and you are in this league, everyone expects us to win every week.
“Everyone expected us to get promotion in the first season, but it doesn’t always happen. At Leyton Orient we play under pressure week in, week out whether we are at home or away.
“We take the biggest number of supporters away so we are under pressure every week and Tuesday will be no different.”
A boost for Orient would be the return of captain Jobi McAnuff, who has been out with a groin injury picked up in the 0-0 at Barnet.
He missed the Bromley defeat and Saturday’s draw, but Edinburgh revealed: “Jobi’s groin is getting better.
“We have to be mindful of how many games he has played and if we get him back we want to keep him back. We will assess him for Tuesday and hopefully he will be available.”