O’s head coach knew last season he had special group
- Credit: Archant
The manager discussed the two stand-out games for him this season and when he realised his Orient squad could be National League champions
Justin Edinburgh knew he had a really special group of players after Leyton Orient’s final game of the 2017/18 season.
The O’s made the long journey up to Gateshead with nothing to play for in the National League, but they still finished with a fine 3-1 victory.
Goals by Macauley Bonne, Jobi McAnuff and Josh Koroma gave them all three points and the title bid was already underway.
When asked about the moment he felt this squad was able to win promotion, Edinburgh replied: “I knew before this season. It was last season when we went away to Gateshead on the last day.
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“I didn’t have to do any team talk because the focus and the determination of the players was to not only see the game out, but to go on and win convincingly. I knew then I had a special group.
“From there, I think we had a fantastic pre-season and there weren’t a lot of changes with the squad personnel and we had good continuity.”
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Orient’s final points tally was 89 which was three points ahead of Solihull Moors and four more than Salford City, who appeared O’s main title rivals before a ball had been kicked this season.
As it was, the 1-1 draw away to the Ammies on the opening day of the campaign was crucial with a late own-goal earning O’s what would be a precious point.
It was a trait Edinburgh’s men would show throughout the term with late goals earning draws at Gateshead in August and Halifax Town in September.
Two goals in the final minutes at Wrexham saw Orient slay the Dragons 2-0 towards the end of November and the late drama next occurred during February in the FA Trophy.
Dan Happe netted to inspire a 2-1 win at Brackley Town which was the start of an eight-match winning streak in all competitions for O’s.
Another crucial late goal came from Matt Harrold in April when Orient fought back from two down to draw 2-2 with Halifax.
Edinburgh added: “The two stand-out games of this season would be the two Halifax games. We were on an unbeaten run and we looked like we were going to lose it up there and we scored in the stoppage time.
“Then we had the precious point at home when it was a game everyone expected us to go and win 3-0 or 4-0 and all of a sudden we found ourselves down.
“But credit to Matty. He came up with a great goal at the end and James Alabi did the same up in Halifax and that’s why I speak about the squad. It’s been about all 23 to 24 players in the squad.”