PREVIEW: WALSALL (H)

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Leyton Orient welcome Walsall to the Breyer Group Stadium this Saturday, with kick-off scheduled for 3pm.

Paul Smyth is available after being away on international duty with Northern Ireland. Tom James returns from suspension to boost Kenny Jackett’s options.

THE SADDLERS

Walsall appointed Matt Taylor over the summer as Head Coach. Taylor’s first ever permanent managerial role has seen him take 12 points from his first 11 league games in charge of the Midlands side. It was a difficult start for Taylor’s squad as they went the first four league games without a win, as well as being knocked out the Carabao Cup first round against Doncaster Rovers. Walsall then hit form going unbeaten in four games in all competitions, which included wins over Stevenage and Mansfield in the league, as well as a victory over Brighton’s U21’s in the Papa John’s Trophy.

They also secured an impressive point away to high flying Bradford City. Two disappointing defeats to Newport and Bristol Rovers followed before going another three games unbeaten in all competitions including a stoppage time win against Salford City last time out. A win for the Saddlers on Saturday would lift them into touching distance of the play-off spots and two points behind the O’s.

KEY PLAYERS

Conor Wilkinson will make his first return to E10 after joining Walsall in the summer. The 26-year-old has been the focal point of Walsall’s attack before getting injured. The Irishman has scored two goals in his opening eight games for the Saddlers this season. He came off the bench late on against Salford last week to make his first appearance in eight games after suffering an injury, but it didn’t take him long to make an impact as in the 95th minute he scored the winning goal to steal the points for Walsall. Wilkinson could make his first start since August this weekend against the O’s where he scored 20 goals in 73 appearances across two seasons.

Another key player for the Saddlers in midfielder Joss Labadie. After a career of loans and short term moves Labadie settled down and made his name for Newport County. The 31-year-old made over 120 appearances for the Welsh side over a five year period which came to an end at Wembley when Newport lost to Morecambe in the League Two play-off final last season. Like Wilkinson, he made the switch to Walsall in the summer and was instantly named captain of the football club.

KENNY JACKETT

Kenny Jackett gives his thoughts ahead of this weekend’s home tie against Walsall.

THE OFFICIALS

Referee: Ollie Yates

Assistants: Andrew Laver and Andy Bennett

Fourth Official: Paul Kelly

Yates has refereed three games this season across League Two, Carabao Cup and The Papa John’s Trophy. He has shown 12 yellow cards in his three games in charge this season.

TOCA Social

Book your post-match night out at TOCA Social in the O2, the world’s first interactive football and dining experience, combining immersive gaming and world class food and drink. O’s fans get a 10% discount on box bookings and free O’s Sharing Cocktail or Mocktail on arrival*! Check out your matchday programme for the discount code and book online here.

*Online bookings only; code must be applied at checkout to receive the discount and arrival cocktail.

 

Match Ball Sponsor – The Compton Family

On being demobbed from the RAF at the end of WW2 and when organised professional football restarted, my Dad took his two sons to every home match of Leyton Orient.  We heard full back Ledger Ritson break his leg in a game and also experienced a 34,000 crowd flooding down the High Road and bringing the traffic to a standstill.  We also saw an Orient side score over 100 goals in a single season.  Such happy memories.  Dad is no longer with us but I am sure that he would be pleased that some of his on-going family still supports the O’s and proud that they are sponsoring the match ball.

Mike Compton