Only four games in and we’ve got a gap at the top. Leyton Orient and Peterborough are already two points ahead of Wolves but there’s already a three point gap between Kenny Jackett’s team and the last playoff spot, which is currently occupied by Bradford. Of course, there’s a long way to go until the end of the season, but over the last five seasons at least one of the clubs in the top six at the end of August have been promoted.
At the bottom, Coventry probably won’t occupy last place for much longer – the Sky Blues would currently occupy seventh place without the points deduction – but it’s the clubs immediately above them who ought to be worried. Of the six clubs currently without a league win, Carlisle and Notts County look especially vulnerable but as we mentioned before the season began, there’s usually one promoted club that finds the going heavy and Gillingham might fit that profile in 2013/14.
Last week’s game of the week finished in a narrow win for Brentford over Walsall: Clayton Donaldson’s goal just before half time settled the game and exactly 1000 more fans turned up at Griffin Park last week than for the corresponding game in February. Elsewhere, a dramatic extra time penalty from Leigh Griffiths earned Wolves three points against Crawley: Colchester only scored once against Carlisle, Peterborough scored five without reply at Tranmere and James Dunne scored a late winner for Stevenage at Notts County.
This weekend’s game of the week is an easy selection – Colchester United v Leyton Orient is the only game featuring two sides in the top six and could give us some clues about the long term prospects for both sides.
Colchester are causing a few raised eyebrows with their unbeaten start: since the start of April they’ve only lost once at the Weston Community Homes Stadium, which is their best run at home since last Autumn. Former West Ham striker Freddy Sears is the current top scorer with two goals, but the big improvement so far is defensive – right now, Colchester are conceding almost one goal a game less than they did last season. A bit of context is needed here: the back four is more or less the same and Colchester haven’t played anyone in the top half of the current table yet, so it’s a case of ‘wait and see’.
Leyton Orient weren’t supposed to do very well this season – if you look back at their pre-season odds for promotion, they’ve been cut from 13/1 to 4/1 – but we weren’t amongst those who held that opinion. Only Peterborough and Coventry have scored more goals so far, but the Os have only conceded one goal in four league games this season and have kept clean sheets in their last three games. Journeyman Irish striker Dave Mooney has already weighed in with four goals – he only needs one more to equal his total for last season – but there are goals throughout this team: midfielders Dean Cox and Moses Odubajo already have two each.
However, Orient have a big problem. They haven’t won a league game at Colchester since September 1951, they’ve not won four consecutive away games in League One since Spring 2009 – they are currently on a three game away winning streak – and their last away defeat was at tomorrow’s opponents in April. At some point their 100% record has to go and I think that may happen. However, I wouldn’t rule out a draw.
Last meeting at Colchester: 6th April 2013
Colchester (2) 2 (Massey, Wright), Leyton Orient (1)1 (Lisbie) Att: 4704
Colchester: Walker, Wright, White, Wilson, Okuonghae, Thompson (Garmston), Massey, Clifford (O’Toole), Wright, Morrison (Smith), Ibehre
Leyton Orient: Jones, Clarke, McSweeney, Rowlands, Vincelot, Smith, James (Batt), Cox, Odubajo, Lisbie, MacDonald (Obafemi)
A valuable win for Colchester against playoff hopefuls Leyton Orient, who had only lost twice in their previous ten games: the Us moved six points clear of the relegation zone with four games left. Although Leyton Orient were still within striking distance of the playoffs, their form earlier in the season hadn’t been good enough and they missed out on the post season by three points.