It’s 12 years since Daryl McMahon won promotion with Leyton Orient under manager Martin Ling but the two men will be on opposing sides this Saturday as Ling returns in his capacity as the O’s director of football.
McMahon still watches events in East London with a keen interest but insists there’ll be no room for sentiment come 5.30pm on Saturday.
“It’s a club I have a lot of affection for and I’ve been back a few times to watch games,” the boss told FleetOnline. “Because we won promotion as a group there, we meet up fairly regularly. We go to different functions that are organised so it’s certainly a club I knew well and continue to. There’s Martin Ling, I know their assistant manager as well as [striker] David Mooney plus Jobi McAnuff I was with at West Ham. It’s the only game at the start of the season that I was getting lots of texts from people saying ‘November 11th, I’ll be there’. It’s a game that a lot of people want to come and see because there’s a little bit of a story and now with the TV cameras and the new stand, it’s all a big build-up again. But we’ll leave all that to others, it’s a sideshow to myself and the players who will be focused on the only thing that matters which is the three points.”
With BT Sport’s live cameras in attendance, it’s the second week in succession that McMahon’s squad will come under scrutiny and he wants his players to move on quickly from last weekend’s Emirates FA Cup defeat (pictured).
“It was harsh on us,” he said, “but it was an experience and one we learn what we can from and move on. Conceding the two goals as we did at the end of the first-half ruined our chance and you rarely get another chance at that level. There’s a lot been said about conceding those two goals, and quite rightly, but let’s not forget we scored two goals in two minutes ourselves, against a League One side as well, and it could have been three. It’s just the way it went. You can’t hide the fact it was disappointing, of course it was, and the lads were very disappointed with it. But you move on.”
The manager insists his side got that game out of their system very quickly and the only talk in training has been of Leyton Orient. “We had a little meeting on Monday and went back through the FA Cup game and a few little bits to work on,” McMahon said. “But to be fair to the players, they didn’t dwell on it and knuckled down for the week to set us up for Saturday.”
A midweek training game saw the Fleet win 7-2 over Sheppey United with goals coming from Bradley Bubb (2), Danny Mills (2), Antonio German (whose initial month with the club is up tomorrow) and the manager himself scored a brace!
“It was good to get minutes into people,” McMahon explained. “Febian Brandy got 90 minutes which he desperately needed as he’s not played 90 since April, Bradley Bubb played 65, Danny Mills played 90. All the strikers needed the minutes. It was a very useful exercise and we’ll probably do it again maybe before the Woking game so players like Bubby can get the minutes into them.”
Bubb’s progress has been such that McMahon has now had second thoughts about sending him out on loan: “I don’t envisage him going out now. I did a few weeks back but he’s come in and trained well for six days. I was expecting him to be extremely rusty and unfit but he’s not been that at all. He’s looked pretty sharp in training and on Tuesday night against decent opposition he did surprisingly well given he’s only just returned. I expected him to do well but maybe not so well in his first game as he did. He needs a couple more training games and we’ll see where he’s at with it then. I’m reluctant to throw him straight back in right this minute when he can get fatigued quickly. The speed of the game at this level is a lot different to a friendly or a training session and the last thing we want is for him to come in and be back out straight away.
“As for Febian, he’ll take a bit of time to get fully up to speed, but he showed real quality on Tuesday and he just needs to get as fit as he can as quickly as he can.”
Fleet’s other three long-term injured players all had news this week of progress and McMahon is eyeing a Christmas return for two of them (Dave Winfield and Jack Payne), while Darren McQueen could be over his knee injury in as little as four months following surgery.
“Jack’s waiting to see a specialist now he’s had near enough his six weeks total rest,” McMahon said. “He feels good and in no real pain. But his issue has always been feeling pain after exercise, not while doing it, so he’ll go back and get a treatment plan but we’d hope to have him back at some stage next month. Dave Winfield’s doing great, making great strides, he’s probably two weeks away from an actual training game. I always had it in my mind that once we get through the Christmas period that we’d have a fully fit Bradley Bubb, Dave Winfield and Jack Payne to add to the group in and around that set of games and that will be massive for us. I mean fully fit in the sense that they’ve had three or four weeks training, not coming into it cold and having been chucked right back in. There’s no point playing them until they can affect the game and make the squad stronger and stay in the squad. There’s plenty of games in the second half of the season that if we can use the sort of position we’re in now as a springboard, three points or whatever off the play-offs, I think we’ve got a great chance to mount an attack going towards the end of the season.”
As for McQueen, he had surgery on his knee and it will now be a waiting game for the young striker. “Darren had his surgery on Wednesday,” McMahon said, “and is looking at maybe four months depending how his body takes to the surgery and how it reacts to treatment. But that’s a sort of vague timeline. It could be a little before or after that timeframe – that’s the average time for recovery the surgeons have said.”
In the short-term, Andy Drury trained again after a hamstring problem while Jack Powell has reported back unscathed from England C duty in Slovakia. Fleet will be missing Chris Bush, however, who has a one-game ban for last week’s dismissal.
Leyton Orient come to The Kuflink Stadium without a win in the league since September 2nd, at which point they were second in the table, and the pressure is on head coach Steve Davis. He was heartened by his side’s second-half performance in the FA Cup defeat at Gillingham last week where a tactical reshuffle to a diamond formation saw the O’s take the game to the Gills late on.
But it’s no secret to suggest that Orient fans aren’t happy with their slide to 19th place and any further damage to their season’s ambitions won’t go down at all well with the large visiting contingent. If they are to get anything from the Fleet, they’ll have to do it without their leading scorer Macauley Bonne who is away on international duty with Zimbabwe. Defender Joe Widdowson also misses out through suspension after being sent off at Priestfield, while defenders Josh Coulson and George Elokobi are injured.
There’s better news with the return of young defender Dan Happe from injury while former Reading, Watford and West Ham midfielder Jobi McAnuff should also be available after a spell out. Orient have a fairly large squad and it’s been underpinned by the arrival of loanees Zain Westbrooke (Brentford), Mark Ellis (Carlisle) and James Brophy (Swindon Town).
Davis will hope his side can produce the form they have shown in the FA Cup, when they drew and then beat Dagenham in a replay before playing Gilingham. The purple patch they showed of five wins from seven games earlier on in the season is the sort of return the fans want to see and should serve as a warning to the Fleet that the O’s are likely a much better side than their lowly position suggests.
This game marks only the second time the clubs have met after the 1993 FA Cup tie at Brisbane Road when four divisions separated us, Orient enjoying a narrow 2-1 win on that day 24 years ago. Kick-off is at 5.30pm with gates open at 3.30pm. As usual, fans are encouraged to park in Ebbsfleet International Car Park C (£3) and avoid using the Thames Way clearway where ticketing is in operation.
The game is segregated and access to the away section on the Swanscombe End terrace for Leyton Orient fans is by ticket only.
Home supporters can pay on the gate via the home turnstiles.
There will be a minute’s silence for Remembrance Day before kick-off.