As the end of the January transfer window draws ever closer by the minute, the O’s squad starts to take shape for the final run in of games as Russell Slade looks to secure promotion to the Championship.
It’s been a busy a month for the O’s boss with plenty of comings, goings and new contracts in the window.
It started ahead of the FA Cup trip to Yeovil on January 4 when Jamie Ness (Stoke City) and Shaquile Coulthirst (Spurs) arrived on month loans. Both went straight into the squad to make their debuts in a 4-0 defeat at Huish Park.
With a game the following Tuesday at Shrewsbury, Slade wasted no time in further bolstering his ranks by bringing in Jamar Loza (Norwich) on loan before the last minute capture of Eldin Jakupovic from Hull City also on a month’s loan in time for the trip to the New Meadow. Both went straight into the starting line up and enjoyed successful debuts, with Loza grabbing an assist for Moses Odubajo to open the scoring whilst Jakupovic enjoyed a clean sheet in a 2-0 victory.
Forward Robbie Simpson had signed on a short-term deal in November having been without a club and he was next to sign on the dotted line as he penned a deal until the end of the season having featured regularly over the festive period.
The new arrivals continued to impress in the 4-0 thumping of Carlisle on January 11 as Simpson enjoyed his best performance in an O’s shirt to date, whilst Ness grabbed his first goal in English football with a thumping long range strike and Loza and Coulthirst ran riot in the latter stages of the game before the Spurs loanee grabbed his first career goal with the last kick of the game.
The O’s boss had made no secret of the fact that he still desired a striker and his marquee signing came the following week when Chris Dagnall signed an 18-month contract with the club after his release from Barnsley. It was a move that paid instant dividends as the new man came rampaging off the bench to grab two goals in quick succession to turn a 1-0 deficit into a 2-1 lead as the O’s made it three out of three in the league in January.
A quieter week followed as the flow of new arrivals was halted though Ness extended his loan until the end of the season before Jakupovic kept his third clean sheet in four games in the 2-0 win at home to Coventry City on Tuesday to complete the O’s 100 per cent record for the month.
There would still be a cruel twist in the tale as Allan McGregor, the Hull City number one, was given his marching orders that evening in the game against Crystal Palace, prompting the Tigers to recall Jakupovic to provide cover.
It meant there was still business to be done by the time deadline day came around and Slade once more delivered the goods with the signing of ‘keeper Ben Alnwick on a permanent basis until the end of the season in time for the new man to get the coach to Rotherham.
There was more good news as Marvin Bartley who had left Burnley by mutual consent one day previously, signed an 18-month contract with the O’s before Loza opted to extend his stay in E10 until March 8.
With a small squad, there was not much room for players to leave the club though the month saw Harrison Georgiou leave the club following the expiration of his short term contract, whilst scholars Alex Finney and Lawson Okimeji also joined Hampton & Richmond on work experience loans.
At the time of writing there are no further moves expected nor is there a Sky reporter and a gaggle of fans outside the Matchroom Stadium.
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