O’s look to bounce back on return to Home Park

Macclesfield Town goalkeeper Owen Evans prevents Leyton Orient scoring (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Macclesfield Town goalkeeper Owen Evans prevents Leyton Orient scoring (pic: Simon O'Connor). - Credit: Archant

Leyton Orient have not faced Plymouth Argyle since the infamous ball boy incident on Valentines Day in 2017

Leyton Orient return to Plymouth Argyle this evening, with the last meeting between the two clubs fresh on the minds of most O's supporters.

It was Valentines Day two years ago and Danny Webb's mix of teenagers and senior professionals produced their best performance of a sorry season to stun the promotion-chasing side and win by a 3-2 score at Home Park.

Gavin Massey, one of the few to impress during the campaign, grabbed a brace and set up Sandro Semedo for a stoppage-time winner, much to the delight of the 156 travelling supporters.

Wonderful scenes occurred as a result of the dramatic finale, but while they were not to know it at the time, this was the beginning of the end.

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The influential Liam Kelly would receive a six-match ban following an incident with a Plymouth ball boy and Orient would lose five of the games he missed.

Webb's side were by no means a one-man team, but Kelly's calming influence and controlled aggression and intent in the centre of the pitch was badly missed when he was absent.

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O's secured a memorable 4-0 win away to Newport County with mainly academy hopefuls on the pitch, but crucially lost at home to rivals for safety Notts County, Cheltenham Town and Grimsby Town over the next month.

The end result was relegation with Omer Riza the last man standing, after Webb felt he had no choice but to resign in March.

At this point it seemed the final chapter in Orient's history was closing in, but two-and-a-half years later, O's return to Home Park in a much better place off the field and also on it despite a traumatic summer.

The loss of head coach Justin Edinburgh still hurts, but an opening-day win against Cheltenham showed there is reason to be positive.

Last weekend's 3-0 loss at Macclesfield Town went some way to erasing optimism, but since relegation in 2017 the club has rebuilt and come back a lot stronger.

A reaction will be expected from interim head coach Ross Embleton and his staff - which includes Webb - this evening against Plymouth.

Orient defended poorly at Macclesfield and now turn focus to the Carabao Cup, even though the first round draw was not kind.

Ryan Lowe's Argyle are expected to be among the frontrunners for promotion and so will provide a stern test tonight.

"If we can take anything positive from Macclesfield, it's we have not come away with any injuries and we have another game coming up, so we need to roll our sleeves up and bounce back as quick as we can," Embleton told the official club website.

"We will approach the competition seriously, like any time we step onto the pitch and we went to Macclesfield trying to get a win and result.

"Now we will go to Plymouth trying to get a result. We will look at the team and see how people have recovered from the weekend game and the long journey home and make a decision (on the starting team) come Tuesday."

Sam Sargeant and Myles Judd started and played the 90 minutes the last time Orient did battle with Argyle and certainly the latter should get an opportunity in this first round tie.

Embleton may also be tempted to provide opportunities for Joe Widdowson, Dale Gorman and Louis Dennis.

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