Brill: FA Trophy success set Orient off again in league title pursuit

PUBLISHED: 16:00 16 May 2019

Dean Brill applauds the Leyton Orient fans at Brisbane Road (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Dean Brill applauds the Leyton Orient fans at Brisbane Road (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Simon O'Connor Photography

We sat down with Dean Brill for our Redemption pullout to talk about the importance of the FA Trophy and his journey from coach to player again

Leyton Orient goalkeeper Dean Brill and defender Jamie Turley celebrate winning the National League title (pic: Simon O'Connor).Leyton Orient goalkeeper Dean Brill and defender Jamie Turley celebrate winning the National League title (pic: Simon O'Connor).

The FA Trophy has proved to be a distraction for some teams in the past, but goalkeeper Dean Brill believes it was the opposite for Leyton Orient this season.

It allowed Justin Edinburgh's side to regain focus and, crucially, that winning feeling when points were harder to come by in the National League during winter.

A switch to a 3-4-1-2 formation produced a 2-1 win at Brackley Town in the quarter-finals of the competition and it was a catalyst for a brilliant run of form.

Orient won eight consecutive games, having lost three of their previous seven, and so instead of derailing their title challenge, it was actually the making of it.

Brill explained: "The manager is a winner, he wants us to be winners and this season as a whole we have been winners.

"The FA Trophy games in the early rounds were just games for us to go and win, but the Brackley match - where Dan Happe scored late on - after that we went on a nine-game unbeaten run.

"If you look at that, it was a great game to set us off again in the league and the competition has been invaluable really for players to get minutes while on their way back to full fitness.

"Obviously young Dan came into play through the FA Trophy too and he has gone on to have a great season and our mindset was always who wouldn't want to get to Wembley and win a trophy?"

Leyton Orient defender Dan Happe wins the ball from a Beaconsfield Town opponent in the FA Trophy first round (pic: Simon O'Connor).Leyton Orient defender Dan Happe wins the ball from a Beaconsfield Town opponent in the FA Trophy first round (pic: Simon O'Connor).

After reaching the summit in September with an unbeaten run which stretched to 13 matches, the O's kept ticking along in October and November.

December was slightly tougher and this was when Orient started their FA Trophy adventure, with a 4-0 win over Beaconsfield Town at Brisbane Road.

January was difficult too with injuries piling up and a painful 3-0 loss to title rivals Salford City was a bitter pill to swallow.

Orient bounced back with a fine victory at Wrexham in the Trophy and although Jobi McAnuff, Craig Clay, Josh Coulson, Charlie Lee and Marvin Ekpiteta all picked up injuries, the cup run ensured they didn't miss many league games.

Josh Koroma was another to get injured, but the youngster and the other key members listed were all able to return for the final run-in.

After beating Beaconsfield, Wrexham and Blyth Spartans, O's needed all their spirit and resolve to triumph at Brackley, with boss Edinburgh pivotal.

He changed system at 1-0 down from a 4-4-2 to three centre backs, wing-backs and a number 10; it was a genius move by Orient's head coach and his staff.

Dan Happe, who had excelled in Coulson and Ekpiteta's absence, popped up with the winner - his first goal for O's - and it proved to be a turning point.

Marvin Ekpiteta scores for Leyton Orient against Wrexham and celebrates (pic: Simon O'Connor).Marvin Ekpiteta scores for Leyton Orient against Wrexham and celebrates (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Edinburgh had a formation he could keep his three best centre backs in, while getting the best out of people like James Brophy and Jordan Maguire-Drew.

By the time Orient saw off AFC Telford in the semi-finals, it was eight wins in a row with the new and favoured 3-4-1-2 formation.

Things may have been different had Brill not been at his best in the first half of the Brackley tie, with O's lucky to be just one goal down in Northamptonshire.

When needed, Orient's number one delivered and it is sometimes easy to forget how crucial he has been to the overall turnaround.

When Edinburgh took charge on November 29, 2017, Brill was the club's goalkeeper coach with youngsters Charlie Grainger and Sam Sargeant vying for a starting berth at Brisbane Road.

He had been registered to play if required and he made his first appearance in over two-and-a-half years on December 2, 2017 away to Solihull Moors.

Since then, Brill has not missed a minute for Edinburgh's team and by the end of last season, he had signed a new contract and dropped the coaching duties.

It's been quite the journey and the former Luton Town number one admitted: "It is quite surreal when you look at the fact I signed for Leyton Orient as a goalkeeper coach and now I'm about to play at Wembley in the Trophy final.

"Obviously I am grateful to the club to be given the coaching role initially and then for the backing I received from the gaffer, Martin (Ling) and everyone else when it came to playing again.

"It is a dream to get the chance to play at Wembley again."

Brill has been there before and is no stranger to big occasions, so won't be fazed against AFC Fylde on May 19.

He added: "I've played in finals before. At Inverness (Caledonian Thistle) I lost on penalties to Aberdeen in the League Cup final and we actually went on to win it the next year, but I was injured, so I didn't get the chance to play.

"It is 10 years ago since I played at Wembley for Luton in what was then called the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. We won 3-2 so hopefully that is a nice omen."

If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the East London Advertiser. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Related articles

Latest East London Sports News

Yesterday, 21:12

Sam Cook returned figures of five for 76 as Somerset were bowled out for 301 before bad light prevented Essex from facing remaining three overs in the days allocation.

Yesterday, 13:51

Sam Cook collected the only wicket to fall in the morning session as Somerset scored 104 runs to reach lunch on 233 for 5 against Essex in their Bob Willis Trophy clash at Lord’s.

Yesterday, 13:00

West Ham United fan and budding journalist Kwame Boakye gives his views on the club’s 2-1 defeat to London rivals Arsenal.

Yesterday, 08:42

Sam Cook returned figures of 2 for 38 whilst there was a wicket apiece for Jamie Porter and Aaron Beard on a rain-affected day when the four stoppages to the inclement weather claimed 46 overs, as Somerset reached the close on 119 for 4 in the Bob Willis Trophy Final at Lord’s.

Wed, 16:15

Jamie Porter claimed his first wicket of the match in a truncated session of play that allowed just 10.5 overs of play in the afternoon session shoehorned in between rain.

Wed, 13:13

Sam Cook collected two wickets for Essex in their Bob Willis Trophy shoot-out with Somerset before the West Country outfit responded to reach the lunch interval on 90 for 3.

Wed, 10:21

London Lions suffered FIBA Basketball Champions League heartbreak as they missed out on the next stage with a narrow 77-73 defeat to Lithuanian side Neptunas Klaipeda in the first qualifying round.

Wed, 10:00

Essex captain Tom Westley believes staging the Bob Willis Trophy final against Somerset on neutral ground, negating the home benefits of Chelmsford and Taunton to the protagonists, will provide the perfect setting to decide the red-ball champions of a truncated season.


For the past six months, employers and employees have been adapting to ways of working from home. The green light has now been given to many people to go back to offices safely. From flexible hours and staggered starting times to deep cleaning, we’re getting ready for new ways of working.

School’s in for summer – and beyond – with health experts agreeing that pupils safely returning to their studies is “positively” the right thing to do. It’s vital for all children’s welfare, not just in terms of students’ future education but also mental and physical well-being, as well as social interaction of classmates.

The NHS Test and Trace system provides protection for family, friends, colleagues and the community, and is here to keep all of us safe and allow us to enjoy summer safely. We take a look at how the system is working and talk to one member of the thousands of team members about her experiences.

Digital Edition


Enjoy the
Docklands and East London Advertiser
e-edition today


Education and Training


Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now

Latest from the East London Advertiser