Orient’s quality shone through, admits Braintree defender Clark
- Credit: Archant
The former O’s centre back reflected on the game at Cressing Road and praised Justin Edinburgh
It is fair to say Tuesday’s National League game between Braintree Town and Leyton Orient was certainly a case of mixed emotions for Michael Clark.
The 21-year-old progressed through the O’s academy and penned professional terms with the E10 outfit in the summer of 2017.
A lack of opportunities led to him departing Orient earlier this year, in March, and he is now a Braintree Town player and last night they hosted Justin Edinburgh’s table-toppers at Cressing Road.
Following a even first-half, the east Londoners managed to kick on and claim a 5-1 win which keeps them in first position and also set a new club record for the longest unbeaten start to a new league campaign.
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But for Clark, who progressed through Orient’s academy at a similar time to Sam Ling, Charlie Grainger, Sam Sargeant, Josh Koroma, Myles Judd and Dan Happe, it was a tough one to digest.
He admitted: “It was mixed emotions for me, but I have a lot of good friends at the club who I still speak to and see, so I am happy to see them doing well and wish the club all the best.”
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In truth, the 5-1 score slightly flattered Orient who had been pushed all the way by Braintree in a competitive first half.
After Macauley Bonne had fired the visitors ahead in the seventh minute from the penalty spot, Bradley Quinton’s team fought back admirably.
It took a superb run by Clark, who played as part of a back-three, to get the Iron up the pitch and even though Joe Widdowson tackled him, the ball rolled for Lyle Della-Verde and he slotted past Dean Brill with 23 minutes played.
O’s faced some testing moments after the equaliser, but got back in front just before the break when centre back Marvin Ekpiteta produced a fine finish to make it 2-1 in the 40th minute.
The goal appeared to knock the stuffing out of Braintree and Orient showed their class after the restart with Koroma grabbing a stunning third before Bonne found the net on two more occasions to take home the match ball.
Clark added: “We knew they would be good and that we had to be organised, but second half I think Orient’s quality shone through and their fitness levels too.
“On our part, it was a lack of concentration in vital parts of the game which let us down really.”
The result saw O’s extend their lead at the top to two points while Braintree are now bottom of the table.
For Clark, last night was not only a special occasion to play against his former side, but also an opportunity to show everyone his potential.
He certainly did that, especially in the first half when his ability to bring the ball out from the back contributed towards the leveller.
Even when Orient upped the ante in the second period, Clark worked hard to try and prevent Braintree suffering any more damage.
In a parallel world, he could have been on the bench for O’s last night or even starting, but the former academy graduate holds no ill feelings towards his old club.
Quite the opposition in fact, and he appreciated the clarity in which Orient handled his departure by mutual consent in March.
Clark concluded: “I have a lot of respect for Justin Edinburgh for making the decision early because it did really help me.
“I still speak to some of the staff there too and there are no hard feelings at all. I wish the club all the best.”
Orient staff and supporters will certainly wish Clark all the best this season as well.