There are more Fleet representatives than just Ebou Adams returning to Leyton Orient this Tuesday evening, though it will likely be the summer signing who will attract the spotlight for our first away clash of 2018/19.
Some Fleet fans may be reminded of a similar situation in 2013 when Daryl McMahon, Billy Bricknell, Dean Rance, Ben May and others returned to Crabble at the earliest opportunity following the exodus from East Kent to North that summer.
In addition to Adams, Daryl McMahon, Aaron McLean and Jack Payne have all played for the O’s previously and the manager expects the usual barbs from the stands – but he isn’t worried about reaction off the pitch getting to anyone in a blue shirt.
“Ebou will be excited about the game and looking forward to it and going back,” McMahon told eufc.co.uk. “He’ll get a bit of stick, naturally. I’m sure I will and Aaron McLean and other ex-Orient we have here. But we’ve got enough experience within the team and staff who have been in the same situations of going back to your old club. Every player does it at some point, joining one club, playing against the old one. It’s all happened before and it’s not a problem for us.
“In these situations, you’ve got to just play the game, focus on your role and playing well. Ebou’s at Ebbsfleet now, he can forget about what anyone at Leyton Orient thinks about him and do in that 90 minutes what we know he’s capable of.”
Adams himself said in Saturday’s programme that the fixture at the Breyer Group Stadium has come about somewhat quicker than he anticipated. “I certainly never thought it would be so early in the fixture list,” he said. “But I am 100% looking forward to it. I am not focusing on the fans, I will be much more on the game.”
The atmosphere shouldn’t catch the former Dartford midfielder by surprise, having played numerous times in E10 last season. A previous loan spell at Shrewsbury will also have made the player used to potentially hostile atmospheres that he wouldn’t have experienced in Norwich City’s U23.
“I am looking forward to all the away games this year, not just this one,” Adams said. “And hopefully we come back from most of those journeys with smiles on our faces.”
Daryl McMahon has named Leyton Orient alongside Hartlepool and newly relegated Chesterfield and Barnet as the big clubs set to bounce back this season. With Fleet playing three of those in the first three games, the boss knows his side have to hit the ground running.
“Leyton Orient are a very good side,” he said. “They got a good point on Saturday [at Salford]. I watched a lot of the game in the office and they probably should have won it, they had numerous chances. They’re all hard, these games. It doesn’t matter who you play, where you play, when you play.”
Dean Rance remains sidelined though his recovery is ahead of schedule. Kenny Clark’s powers of recuperation are well known but Tuesday might be a few days too early for him. The Fleet could shake things up with Luke Coulson and Bagasan Graham having sat out the opener, while Michael Cheek and Darren McQueen will be straining at the leash for more game time.
Leyton Orient started last season very well but collapsed through autumn. Justin Edinburgh has steadied the ship and hasn’t gone wild in summer in terms of signings, bringing in former Fleet target James Alabi and Dale Gorman from Stevenage, to add to ex-Dagenham midfielder Sam Ling who arrived earlier this year. Alabi played 90 minutes at Salford but Gorman has an ankle complaint while another casualty was Matt Harrold who has been suffering from a hamstring problem.
The O’s aren’t likely to field a vasty different side from that which drew 1-1 against the Fleet back in March. Eight of the players who featured in that one saw game time at Salford on Saturday. All the action happened in the first half of our previous meeting, with Corey Whitely opening the scoring for the visitors before Dave Winfield converted past his own goalkeeper as Orient hit back.
Full online commentary from BBC Radio Kent plus Twitter coverage will keep you in touch with events at E10 if you can’t make the game. For those of you who can, ticket information and directions are available on the LOFC website here.