Tomorrow’s final opponents AFC Fylde will make their second trip to Wembley within a week today, after last weekend’s National League Play-off Final defeat against Salford City.
Fylde had been in good form ahead of the final, they saw off Solihull Moors and Harrogate Town for the chance to play for a place in League Two, but they fell just short.
Our last two league meetings against AFC Fylde ended in victory for Justin Edinburgh’s side. Firstly Josh Koroma hit a brace and Macauley Bonne struck at Mill Farm for a 3-1 win, before the reverse fixture was won by a Bonne and Marvin Ekpiteta goal each at The Breyer Group Stadium.
AFC Fylde FA Trophy run
The Coasters’ cup run started at Mill Farm when they cruised to 5-1 victory against Stratford Town.
Biggleswade Town were next to visit Mill Farm in the Second round, Nick Haughton’s first-half strike was enough to see Fylde through to the next round.
The third round ended 5-5 in a dramatic draw against Ramsbottom United, this saw The Rams visit Fylde in the replay the following week. The National League side made no mistake this time and moved into the quarter-final after a 4-1 victory.
Barnet FC were their opponents and after a goalless draw in normal time, AFC Fylde kept their nerve to win 4-1 on penalties.
Stockport County then held the Coasters to a goalless draw at Mill Farm in the first leg of the Semi-Final but a dramatic 3-2 away win, which included three goals in the final five minutes awarded Dave Challinor’s men a place at Wembley.
Orient FA Trophy run
The O’s have conceded just two goals throughout this cup run and have tucked away 11 of their own down the other end.
Our journey started at The Breyer Group Stadium when Beaconsfield Town came to test the O’s in mid-December.
George Elokobi, James Brophy, Craig Clay, and Dale Gorman all scored without reply as we cruised into the second round.
Our next opponents, Wrexham proved to be a tougher test, naturally as the Welsh side were fighting for promotion out of the National League alongside the O’s.
Matt Harrold secured the much needed victory with a cooly taken penalty in the 63rd minute and with that being the only goal of the game, Orient secured a second win that season at the Racecourse Ground.
We were back in E10 for the third round, popular non-league side Blyth Spartans were the visitors.
The Spartans came in their numbers and carried their good league form into their cup run. It took the O’s 84 minutes to break the deadlock, Jamie Turley slammed a header home from close range following a brilliant Dale Gorman free-kick.
The six nail-biting minutes that remained were spent defending our lead as Dean Brill stood firm to make sure we did not have to travel up north for a replay on the following Tuesday night.
For the first time in the cup, the O’s conceded a goal and it was at a packed St.James Park, home of Brackley Town, who were also in fine National League North form.
Lee Ndolvu struck in the 24th minute and the O’s went in behind at the break. Harrold was introduced after 64 minutes and it only took him 9 to make his mark. The forward slotted home from close range, sparking even more belief in the side.
No more than 10 minutes later, Dan Happe towered above his marker at the back post to nod home in dramatic fashion. Not bad timing for his first professional goal.
The game ended 1-2 and Justin Edinburgh was delighted with the fight and determination his side showed to come back from a goal down, the Semi-Final now awaited the O’s.
AFC Telford United made themselves heard in the North Stand at The Breyer Group Stadium, they were another National League North side in good league form.
Orient looked comfortable and in control for the majority of the game and Macauley Bonne sent the side into the second leg with a one-goal advantage after his smart finish from inside the six-yard area.
New Bucks Head was packed with 3,648 fans there to hopefully cheer their team to an FA Trophy final at Wembley Stadium.
The O’s had the dream start, Matt Harrold pounced upon a defensive error to race to the line and prod the ball into the net, but things took turn for the worse as the unimaginable happened just 20 minutes later.
Harrold was shown a straight red card by referee Peter Wright who judged the forward to have used excessive force with his arm.
Ten-man Orient defended their league as well as they could but the extra man for Telford paid off, Ellis Deeney struck beyond Brill from distance as the scores on the day were level.
The hosts knew the one goal wasn’t enough as the O’s were still heading to Wembley on aggregate, but that wasn’t enough for Edinburgh who wanted a goal for added safety.
Up stepped Josh Coulson, his header secured a place at Wembley for Orient and was his sixth goal of the season. Not bad at all for the central defender who ended the season on eight goals in all competitions.
Despite long term injury worries James Dayton and Myles Judd, Head Coach Justin Edinburgh is likely to have a near-full fit squad at his disposal.
The break between the end of the season and tomorrow’s FA Trophy final has given time for the likes of Jobi McAnuff, Sam Ling, Alex Lawless and Dale Gorman to gain fitness. All of whom will be in the squad that travels to Wembley.
MAN IN THE MIDDLE
Andrew Madley will be in charge of our Wembley fixture, Nick Hopton and Akil Howson are the assistants with Matthew Donohue as the fourth official. Madley has spent the majority of the season officiating in the Championship, he has taken charge of 31 second tier games, handed out 99 yellow cards, 4 red cards and 11 penalties this term. The West Yorkshire born referee has also taken charge of two games in the Premier League handing out two yellow cards.
The last time Madley took charge of the O’s in March 2012, at Prenton Park Tranmere Rovers held on for a 2-0 win.
Our international Live Stream is being offered to supporters outside the UK who wish to cheer the O’s on from afar.
Information on how to sign-up to watch Orient at Wembley can be found here.