Today marked the first competitive match at The Breyer Group Stadium for Ross Embleton’s men since the tragic passing of Champion Head Coach Justin Edinburgh.
Incredible scenes of tributes to Justin were displayed by both Orient and Cheltenham fans before kick in what was a tough minute’s silence.
It was a tight affair with both teams going for the win from the whistle. Lee Angol found the net in the first-half but celebrations proved premature as the official flagged for offside.
Orient clinched the victory when Justin Edinburgh’s last signing as Head Coach, Josh Wright struck in the 68th minute to secure the three points on the day.
Orient got the game underway but were immediately put under pressure when Luke Varney advanced into the box and went down as Dean Brill attempted to make a block. Referee Michael Salisbury blew up and awarded the O’s the free-kick after Varney had gone down too easily.
The O’s first sight of goal came just after a quarter of an hour. Jordan Maguire-Drew struck a sweet left-footed effort on goal from 20-yards, but the ball just didn’t dip in time to trouble Scott Flinders in the Robins’ net.
The game continued as a cagey affair as we reached the half-hour point. Both teams were looking to unlock each-others defence with passing play, but the back-lines at The Breyer Group Stadium stood firm.
Orient fans thought they were ahead with only three minutes of the half remaining. Excellent one-touch play made space for Lee Angol in the box, the forward then found the back of the net from a very tight angle, however the official on the far side had his flag up for offside, putting a swift end to those celebrations.
Both teams returned to the field of action unchanged from the break with the O’s kicking towards the Q2W Tommy Johnson Stand.
Cheltenham boss Michael Duff was first to make a change, Chris Hussey replaced Josh Debayo in a defensive minded switch as the O’s upped the pressure.
A long ball upfield split the Cheltenham defenders and allowed Angol to pick up the ball in the box, he looked to square the ball to partner Conor Wilkinson but Ben Tozer was there to sweep up the danger.
The game suddenly came alive shortly before the 70 minute mark. Josh Wright pounced upon a loose ball in the box after Wilkinson’s shot was blocked and took no chances as he buried the ball in to the back of the net from close range.
The Robins then saw red twice. Firstly, Luke Varney was shown a second-yellow card after an elbow to the head of Marvin Ekpiteta. Then seconds later, Rohan Ince was awarded with a straight red card after a moment of dissent on the touch-line. Cheltenham Town were reduced to nine-men in a matter of minutes.
Josh Coulson should have made it two shortly after, he rose highest from Jordan Maguire-Drew’s corner-kick to head towards goal but for the finger-tips of Flinders. The ‘keeper got down low excellently to deny the skipper.
James Alabi was introduced after 84 minutes and got straight in to the thick of the action. Craig Clay found the forward with his back to goal, he turned and struck towards the far post but it bounced just wide of the target.
Again the O’s should have furthered their lead as the game drew to close. Jordan Maguire-Drew drilled a low cross in to the danger are, but Flinders made himself wide and wonderfully blocked the shot from 4-yards.
An opening day victory courtesy of Josh Wright, Thank you Justin.
ORIENT: Brill (Sargeant 12), Ling, Ekpiteta, Coulson (C), Clay, Wilkinson (Alabi 84), Maguire-Drew (Dennis 90+5), Happe, Brophy, Angol, Wright
SUBS: Gorman, Judd, Harrold, Sotiriou
GOALS: Wright (68)
CHELTENHAM: Flinders, Long, Tozer, Campbell (Reilly 67), Broom, Sheaf (Addai 75), Boyle, Debayo (Hussey 63), Ince, Varney, Raglan
SUBS: Lovett, Clements, Thomas, Doyle-Hayes
BOOKED: Varney (7)
SENT OFF: Varney (70), Ince (72)
REFEREE: Michael Sailsbury
ATTENDANCE: 6,534 (367)