Jobi: Competition is driving O's to target
PUBLISHED: 16:30 10 February 2016
Simon O'Connor Photography
Jamaican international helped Orient earn an excellent win at Portsmouth
Jobi McAnuff believes Leyton Orient have a strong enough squad to achieve success this season after helping them win at promotion rivals Portsmouth last week.
The Jamaican scored his second goal of the campaign and once again it was a little bit special as he curled in from 25-yards.
It ensured Kevin Nolan’s good start to life as O’s player-manager continued and moved the east Londoners back into the play-offs.
Shaun Brisley and Nicky Hunt, two additions in January, helped Orient keep a clean sheet at Fratton Park and Nolan has a strong squad to pick from now.
“I know competition for places is one thing Kevin really wanted,” said McAnuff. “He wanted to have that strength in depth and you need that if you are to push on.
“If you want to be successful as a player, you need to embrace the competition because it pushes you.
“The lads that didn’t play at Portsmouth would have been disappointed, but the ones that came in did very well. They need to keep doing that now to remain in the team.
“Competition for places raises everybody and Brisley and Hunt came in at the back and were very good against Portsmouth.
“The gaffer is starting too so he’ll get better and fitter, there are a lot of positives for us right now.”
Nolan dropped Ollie Palmer and Connor Essam to the bench at Pompey, following the Cambridge United loss on January 30.
Both have been regulars for long parts of the season, but didn’t even come on at Fratton Park.
Blair Turgott and Scott Kashket, two players who have featured off the bench on numerous occasions, couldn’t even make it among the substitutes on Saturday either.
And Nigel Atangana didn’t play against Portsmouth after a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the two clubs before his transfer.
It just demonstrates how all of a sudden the O’s appear to have an incredibly strong squad and the type that can challenge for success in the final months of the season.
Essam, Atangana and Palmer all played a part in helping Nolan win his first two games in charge, but could struggle to get back in now.
After the disappointment of losing 3-1 to the U’s, Orient bounced back brilliantly to get on track again in the race to earn promotion to League One.
A win at Portsmouth is no mean feat and Nolan’s squad will be full of confidence by the time league leaders Northampton Town visit Brisbane Road this weekend.
They will believe they can get something from the game and certainly can if McAnuff can produce more magic.
“I thought it was a quality strike, but the lads are giving me a bit of stick saying the wind took it in,” said the 34-year-old. “Once it bounced down I made a decision and it was one of those – as soon as I hit it, I knew it was going in.”
It was his fifth strike for the club and the Jamaican is one of a number of players capable of winning games for Orient.
What they have struggled with this year, and against Cambridge, is cutting out the defensive errors.
But by bringing in Hunt and Brisley, the O’s back four looked incredibly solid up against a Portsmouth team that has scored 45 times in 28 matches – one of the best records in the division.
This weekend will be tough against Northampton, but if Nolan’s men can defend as well as they did at Pompey, they can beat the league leaders.
It is all to play for once again.