Brave calls pay off for Ross to give Orient early statement win

PUBLISHED: 12:00 21 August 2019

Leyton Orient interim head coach Ross Embleton (right) during the League Two match against Cheltenham Town at Brisbane Road (pic: Chris Radburn/PA Images).

Leyton Orient interim head coach Ross Embleton (right) during the League Two match against Cheltenham Town at Brisbane Road (pic: Chris Radburn/PA Images).

PA Wire/PA Images

Leyton Orient’s players and staff show they belong in League Two with victory against a team which should have won promotion last season

Lee Angol of Leyton Orient and Stevenage defender Kelland Watts (pic: Simon O'Connor).Lee Angol of Leyton Orient and Stevenage defender Kelland Watts (pic: Simon O'Connor).

The significance of Tuesday's 3-2 victory at Mansfield Town may not be known for some time, but it feels a big moment for Leyton Orient back in League Two.

Social media is never a fair and balanced place to gather views and the reaction to O's trailing by two goals at half time was as you would expect.

Certain fans were unhappy and calling for a change - albeit a real minority - and others were a lot more measured in their response.

Everyone could agree, though, another poor defeat like the one Orient suffered away to Macclesfield Town would be damaging.

But how interim head coach Ross Embleton reacted, with the squad following his lead, bodes well for the future.

A common trait inexperienced managers show is a stubbornness to not change, but after the draw with Stevenage the current O's boss admitted his favoured 3-5-2 formation was 'not set in stone'.

These were not empty words as with Orient two goals down at Field Mill, Embleton was bold and replaced centre-back Dan Happe with winger Louis Dennis.

O's adopted a 4-3-3 system for the second half and the brave decision was to pay off big time with this young manager not freezing or being a rabbit in the headlights.

Dennis set up Conor Wilkinson to pull one back and open his account for the club, after Danny Rose had scored two penalties in the first half for Mansfield.

Conor Wilkinson of Leyton Orient and Stevenage's Kelland Watts (pic: Simon O'Connor).Conor Wilkinson of Leyton Orient and Stevenage's Kelland Watts (pic: Simon O'Connor).

With confidence flowing for the forward, Wilkinson linked up brilliantly with Lee Angol in the 78th minute and the ex-Stags attacker equalised to also get off the mark for O's.

Orient, like the champions they are, were not satisfied with merely a draw and continued to push forward, getting their reward deep into stoppage time.

Angol's cross found Dennis and although he made a mess of the shot, another substitute in Jordan Maguire-Drew bundled the ball over the line for a dramatic win.

In the grand scheme of things it is only three points and one more in the win column, but this feels significance.

Orient went away to one of the fancied teams in the division, came from behind to earn a vital win and with the new boys key.

This squad showed they belong at this level against a club who arguably should have won promotion to League One last season.

Now the big question is do the management team belong at this level? The changes made by Embleton were pivotal.

He could have shut up shop at the break and hoped to leave Nottinghamshire without any more damage, but went for it with both his tactics and substitutions.

Maguire-Drew's introduction in stoppage time was decisive too. Defensive midfielder George Marsh or full-back Myles Judd could have come on to shore things up and help O's leave with a point.

But Embleton and his coaching staff of Danny Webb and Jobi McAnuff sensed one more opportunity was coming and were rewarded for positivity.

It should give each of them belief they can be the men to lead Orient through this difficult season and for as long as they want.

More big tests will be around the corner for the club and O's will have some bad days in League Two, but at Mansfield on Tuesday memories were created and others will be too if this confidence and togetherness remains.

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