Striker Harrold discusses struggles of first season after joining Leyton Orient

PUBLISHED: 12:00 01 July 2020

Leyton Orient forward Matt Harrold does his best to get past a Solihull Moors defender (pic: Simon O'Connor),

Leyton Orient forward Matt Harrold does his best to get past a Solihull Moors defender (pic: Simon O'Connor),

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Striker Matt Harrold has revealed how tough he found his first season at Leyton Orient after joining from Crawley Town.

Leyton Orient forward Matt Harrold wins the ball in the air against AFC Fylde (pic: Simon O'Connor).Leyton Orient forward Matt Harrold wins the ball in the air against AFC Fylde (pic: Simon O'Connor).

The 35-year-old joined the O’s on August 31, 2017 but found it hard to break into the first-team squad despite being at a struggling National League outfit.

A combination of a lack of regular game time, plenty of options up front, and a tough time away from Brisbane Road is what made it hard for the target man.

“It was tough, probably on a level with Southend in terms of the fans not being happy, not with me personally so much but the team as a whole,” Harrold told Essex Charity Cup YouTube channel.

“I scored after about a minute of my debut, come on and scored a header, and we were like second in the league, so everything was great and then we played our next game against Boreham Wood and lost 2-0 – we were completely outplayed.

Leyton Orient's Matt Harrold celebrates after scoring at Haringey Borough (pic: Simon O'Connor).Leyton Orient's Matt Harrold celebrates after scoring at Haringey Borough (pic: Simon O'Connor).

“Then we went on a run of about 14 games without winning and it was terrible because Leyton Orient were a big club in non-league and even League Two, but we just could not win against non-league teams, and part-time teams.

“The manager got sacked, Steve Davis, who was a good manager. I just don’t think he was right for the club and he didn’t fit right which happens and I also think after relegations it takes clubs a bit of time to sort themselves out.

“It was a really tough time, but we got through it in the end, Justin got the job and the rest is history.”

Harrold revealed how much of an impact Justin Edinburgh had when he arrived at the club and how he was exactly what they needed to get them back on the right track.

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He added: “He was great, just what we needed at the time, a big personality, very clear and basic in his message, and he didn’t overcomplicate anything.

“He just got lads playing for him, he knew good characters and knew the importance of team spirit and being a united bunch.

“He really simplified what he wanted from us, we got back to basics, defending well and keeping clean sheets and scoring goals.

“His first game we went away to Solihull Moors. By the sound of them they don’t sound like a luxurious club and their ground was an absolute ‘carssy’ but we went to Solihull after a good week of training like ‘we’re going to win this’ and we lost 1-0.

“He went a bit mad after the game and it was like ‘wow this could be an absolute disaster, we could get relegated again’, and it was tough so it took all of my experience and know-how as well as the rest of the experienced players to go on.

“The next week we had a home game against Sutton, it was our Christmas night out in Leeds after the game and the club said if you don’t win this game we’re not paying for your hotel tonight.

“We ended up winning 4-1, I scored, and we played great then that was it, that was the where the belief came from.”

The former Bristol Rovers forward also admitted how brilliant Edinburgh was with him during a tough period in his life when the boss first arrived at O’s.

“It was a crazy time as my mum nearly died of a brain aneurysm at the time, she’s fine now, but she was given a real slim chance to survive and he was great for me then,” he added.

“Justin was on the phone and helped me along, he said you do what you do, but I wanted to play through it as I felt that would help me get through it.

“We ended up finishing the season strong, I ended up finishing with a bit of an injury, so I didn’t finish that season. Coming into the next season I felt we were in a good place going into the new season.”

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