The manager: Richie Wellens
After a long and successful playing career, Richie Wellens' first role in management came when he returned to Oldham Athletic as first team manager from September 2017 to June 2018, when he was sacked following the club's relegation to League Two. Wellens then took over the vacant managerial position at Swindon Town in the summer of 2018, eventually leading the club to the 2019–20 League Two title during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He left Swindon to manage League Two team Salford City in November 2020, but lasted less than six months in charge before being sacked, having won the rearranged 2019–20 EFL Trophy. In May 2021 Wellens became manager of Doncaster.
In December that year Wellens and Doncaster parted ways and his next job would be Leyton Orient after Kenny Jackett’s departure.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Irish striker Aaron Drinan joined Orient from Ipswich Town in the summer of 2021.
He began his career in Ireland and represented Cork City and Waterford before making the move to The Tractor Boys in 2018. During his time at Portman Road, he had four loan spells, before breaking into the first team last season.
Drinan made 22 first team appearances for Ipswich, 16 of which coming from the subs bench, before having a year option on his contract activated. Drinan hit the ground running for the O's, scoring goal after goal in the first half of the season, including a sublime hat-trick versus Hartlepool United.
After picking up a slight knock and contracting Covid-19, Drinan underwent a more difficult spell in front of goal, but refound his golden touch in the 3-0 victory away at Harrogate Town in March, when he scored twice in six second half minutes.
Drinan signed a one-year extension to his contract in July of 2022, keeping him at the East London club until at least the end of the 2023/24 season.
Young centre-half Ed Turns joined the O's on-loan from Premier League Brighton & Hove Albion in the January transfer window.
Turns is a product of the Seagulls youth system, and has appeared twice for the first-team in the Carabao Cup – his debut coming under Graham Potter in a 2-0 win against Swansea City.
A left-footed ball-playing centre-back, Turns has represented Wales U21 at international level, making his debut in a 1-0 defeat to the Netherlands U21.
The defender made his full Leyton Orient debut in a 0-0 draw against Barrow at Brisbane Road on January 14th, 2023.
Since then, Turns has started five of the last six league games and has immediately impressed manager Wellens, scoring twice and keeping two clean sheets.
Theo Archibald joined Leyton Orient permanently in June 2022 following a season-long loan from the Summer of 2021, from League One side Lincoln City.
Archibald’s career began with Celtic, where he spent all his youth, from the age of six right the way to nineteen. Theo made the move to Brentford in 2017 following a loan spell with Albion Rovers. Another loan move would follow his permanent switch to the Bees; a full season with Forest Green Rovers in League Two.
His performances merited a move to Macclesfield Town, where Archibald established himself as a regular – he even notched a special goal against the O’s, bending a 30-yard screamer into the top corner.
Lincoln was the winger’s next destination, where he made 12 appearances in all competitions, scoring once against Mansfield Town. Whilst on loan at the O's during the 2021/22 season, Theo played a big role in the Leyton Orient side, operating at both wing back and further forward on the right wing.
After a highly impressive season on loan in E10, where Theo contributed with eight goals and nine assists, the mercurial winger joined the O's permanently in June of 2022, signing a two-year deal. This season his form has continued and again he has been a standout player in the division, scoring five and assisting six.
Credit: Leyton Orient FC
Leyton Orient's history is a unique one, and a story that begs to be told time and time again.
The Leyton Orient we know today grew from humble origins, beginning in Homerton in 1881 as Glyn Cricket Club.
Evolving many times throughout 140 years, the Club has had to overcome great obstacles. We will of course always remember the three Clapton Orient players who made the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives during WW1; Sergeant Richard McFadden, Private William Jonas and Private George Scott.
The story of the Footballers' Battalion can be read in much greater detail below, and the work of the Somme Memorial Trust in the current day continues to pay tribute to the Club's heroes.
In more recent years, the Club suffered at the hands of bad ownership and fell out of the Football League for the first time, relegated at the end of the 2016/17 season.
Whilst the effects were felt throughout the Club, under the stewardship of new owners Eagle Investments, led by boyhood Orient fan and now Chairman Nigel Travis, the club was able to stabilise and aim to bounce back.
Under the stewardship of manager Justin Edinburgh, the O's were able to gain promotion back to the Football League at the end of the 2018-19 season, however the celebrations were short lived, as Edinburgh tragically lost his life on 8th June 2019.
In 2020, the West Stand at The Breyer Group Stadium was renamed the Justin Edinburgh Stand, in a moment of "enormous pride and excitement" for his family.
Season so far
Going into the game, Orient sit top of the League Two table with a ten-point gap over second-placed Stevenage who have three games in hand. It has been a magnificent season so far for Wellens’ side both home and away.
The O’s have conceded the least amount of goals of any team in League Two this season (19), and injured winger Paul Smyth is their top scorer so far, scoring nine.
Wellens’ men have overcome a sticky patch of form in recent games, winning three in the last four games, with the other being a 1-1 draw away to Walsall. In February, they have beaten AFC Wimbledon, Crewe Alexandra and Rochdale.
HEAD TO HEAD
Crawley have had some great successes away to Leyton Orient in recent years, winning in our last three visits to East London.
In August of 2019, Crawley were 2-3 victors over the O’s thanks to a quickfire Ollie Palmer double in the second-half that overturned a 2-1 deficit, as former Red Josh Wright scored the opening goal of the game. Nathan Ferguson was Crawley’s other goalscorer in the game.
In December of 2020, Crawley returned to Brisbane Road and again were victorious by a one-goal margin. A dramatic 1-2 victory thanks to late goal from hotshot Max Watters, after Sam Matthews gave us an early lead before Orient quickly drew level.
Our most recent visit to East London was last season in yet another 1-2 win for Crawley. A George Francomb strike gave Crawley the lead after 32 minutes before Orient were able to equalise quite freakishly a few minutes after the hour mark.
But five minutes later our man in form Kwesi Appiah struck back to regain the lead as Crawley held strong to take another well-earned win on the road.
HOW THEY BET*
Leyton Orient 8/15
Crawley Town 5/1
*Odds correct at the time of writing as of our league betting partners Sky Bet. Please gamble responsibly.