FOLLOWING the Mariners' dismal loss at Macclesfield last weekend, which marked Townâ€™s third successive defeat, Russell Sladeâ€™s men need to instil some confidence into the Grimsby faithful with a good performance against high-flying Leyton Orient.
Orient have perhaps surprised a few people with the start they have made to their season. Predicted to struggle by some following their lowly 19th place finish last year, Martin Ling (left) has moulded a team together that is playing some neat, attractive football. Nothing demonstrated this more than their 4-2 victory over much fancied Bristol Rovers last weekend. Much travelled striker Lee Steel revealed this week that the football at Brisbane Road is much better than any other club heâ€™s ever been at - a list that includes Shrewsbury, Brighton and Oxford United. "The football thatâ€™s getting played here is better than any other club Iâ€™ve been at - it really is". Much of this is to do with their manager Martin Ling who marks his first year anniversary as Oâ€™s manager next weekend. He said this week that "there is definitely a belief in the camp at the moment", but like all managers is keen for his side to remember only eight games have been played. But the signs certainly are that Orient are not your archetypal third division "hit it and hope" side, and IF (big if, I know) Town play their passing game on Saturday, we could have a decent, attractive game of football, who knows!
Orientâ€™s longest serving player is Matthew Lockwood, a left back who has also appeared for Bristol Rovers. Lockwood should be popular with Town fans, in the knowledge that it was he who knocked Hull out the play offs in the 2000/01 season when Orient beat the Tigers 2-0 to secure a place in the final, which they then lost to Blackpool. Alan White is a strong centre half who spent four years in the Second division with Colchester United before signing a two year contract with Orient in the summer. A reported target for Russell Slade in the summer was Michael Simpson (left) who spent most of his career at Wycombe Wanderers before being released by Tony Adams in the summer. Simpson plays the "holding role" in central midfield to great effect, and scored his first goal for his new club last weekend.
Another summer signing is Wayne Carlisle who arrived from Bristol Rovers and has already endeared himself to the Brisbane Road fans with some tricky displays down the flank. Gary Alexander will be familiar to Town captain Justin Whittle from his Hull City days. Alexander joined the Osâ€™ in January 2003 and has scored 20 goals in just over 60 games for the London club. He has already netted three this season and will be aided by the presence of strike partner Lee Steele who arrived from Oxford in the summer. A determined and robust striker, Steele was praised by manager Martin Ling this week along with fellow striker Jabo Ibehre who burst onto the scene a few seasons ago with some flamboyant performances. Has since struggled to find any consistency, but when he performs to his potential, can be a menace to the meanest of defences.
Gary Alexander is undoubtedly the man to watch for Orient. In a struggling side last season, he managed to hit 16 goals - leading the line tremendously for Martin Lingâ€™s side. A real presence up front, Alexander also has a superb finish on him - making him one of the most envied strikers in the division.
The Mariners will give a debut to new signing Terrell Forbes who arrived this week as cover for Townâ€™s long list of injured defenders. Rob Jones has trained this week but is a little while off full fitness.
Justin Whittle is a doubt for the game with a back strain, but should play in a back four of Gordon, Whittle and Forbes. Similarly Stacy Coldicott has a slight knock, but should be fine to be part of the squad
Ronnie Bull and Clint Marcelle are pushing for places in the side after playing well in the reserves this week, as will be the likes Michael Reddy and Ashley Sestanovich who were both dropped to the bench last weekend.
Martin Ling will hope to name an unchanged side from the one that did so well last week. Andy Scott seems to have come through last weekends game unscathed after a back injury and will continue.
John Mackie is still sidelined with a long term injury, whilst Lee Harrison will continue in goal after replacing Glenn Morris in goal a few weeks ago.
Town have quite a long history of playing Orient, dating back to the 1905-1906 season when Town won 2-1. Many of the games between the two clubs came in the old Second Division (now the Championship). In all the sides have met 49 times in the league and cup, winning more than losing
Lee Thorpe (left) made 43 starts for Leyton Orient after signing from Lincoln City in the summer of 2002. Thorpe struggled to make a positive impact at Brisbane Road, where he was hindered with disciplinary problems. This was ended with a successful loan spell with the Mariners last season before he landed a two year contract at Bristol Rovers.
One player that older Town fans will remember is Ron Foster. Foster joined Town in 1962 after helping Orient win promotion to Division One (now the Premiership). A striker, Foster scored 25 goals in over 100 appearances for Town. After a four year stay at Blundell Park he left for Reading before a spell playing in America.
Fishy prediction: Orient are playing well so it will be a tough test for a side struggling on confidence. A 2-2 draw sounds a reasonable guess me thinks.
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