Hunt insists O’s must keep it clean!
PUBLISHED: 10:00 15 April 2016
Simon O'Connor Photography
With two home matches coming up this week, former Bolton man wants east Londoners to get back to basics
Nicky Hunt admits Leyton Orient need to get back to keeping clean sheets after more disappointment in their battle to return to League One last weekend.
The O’s missed their fifth penalty of 2016 and suffered a 3-0 loss to London rivals Barnet.
Another local derby awaits this weekend with relegation haunted Dagenham & Redbridge set to visit Brisbane Road.
While on paper it represents a good chance for Orient to bounce back, they have struggled in recent weeks and look extremely low on confidence after dropping down to 11th in the table.
“I don’t think the players drop their heads when we concede a goal,” said former Bolton Wanderers defender Hunt.
“The way we’ve based ourselves since Kevin Nolan has taken over is all about clean sheets. That will win you matches. If you don’t concede, the majority of the time, the stats will show that you’ll get the win, so that is what we base our game on.
“As a back four and a goalkeeper, we’ve not had the clean sheets that we want lately. We need to get back to basics and stifling the opposition.”
When Nolan took charge of the O’s on January 21, they had only kept five clean sheets all season in all competitions.
Initially the former West Ham United captain made Orient’s back four impenetrable as they registered numerous shutouts.
Nolan celebrated five clean sheets in his first seven matches, before two more last month.
But since beating Morecambe 1-0 on March 19, they have let in six goals in four games – picking up just one point in the process.
Perhaps the most worrying stat is that Orient have scored just once in their last four matches and failed to convert two penalties during that period.
Three of those clashes have been against sides in the bottom half of the table, but Hunt insists they don’t fear anybody in the league.
He added: “We go into every game believing we can win, there is not a team in this division that we fear or who are better than us on our day.
“That is the belief the manager has instilled in us since he’s come in, well certainly since I’ve joined the club.
“These past couple of weeks we haven’t shown it, but the four or five before we were in brilliant form.”
After Orient beat Oxford United 1-0 on March 12, they were seventh in the table and only nine points behind Plymouth Argyle, who then occupied third place.
Now it’s Accrington Stanley who are in the final automatic promotion position and they are 14 points ahead of the east Londoners.
While the O’s are still only one win away from potentially getting back into the play-off places, they need a victory soon.
Confidence is clearly low in the camp and the only way to get that back is by getting all three points.
With Daggers, a club on the verge of relegation, coming to E10 it would appear a perfect chance to get back on track.
Even though Hunt, 32, believes Orient can definitely win on Saturday, many predicted the same at York City recently.
“Each individual player reacts in different ways when confidence is low,” said the right-back.
“We’ve just got to be fully focused on beating Dagenham. I’m sure we are more than capable of doing that, even though we’re on this bad run of form.”