Slade’s first clue as Orient look to tighten up

Slade unconcerned despite defeat

Initial clues as to who might be Orient’s central defensive partnership began to emerge at Blue Square Bet Premier side Ebbsfleet United on Saturday.

New signing Nathan Clarke made his debut and partnered fit again Scott Cuthbert at the heart of the rearguard in the opening 45 minutes and Slade was pleased with their performance.

“We were really, really solid in the first half and should have probably been a couple of goals in front in all fairness,” he said.

“Both Nathan Clarke and Scott Cuthbert did great. Scotty’s been out for such a long time injured and Nathan’s only been with us for three days, but they were terrific, the pair of them together.

The O’s were beaten 1-0 when Nathan Elder netted midway through the second half, as manager Russell Slade experimented by changing all 11 players who had started the game.

Despite the reverse, Slade was pleased his side looked tighter than in their initial game when they had leaked three goals against Sutton in a 5-3 success

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Unconcerned by the result, the O’s boss was pleased with the progress his new-look side have started to make in pre-season.

“I think if we’d shown a tad more quality in the final third we’d have been comfortable at half time. We reduced them to just half a chance in that first period so I was very very pleased with that.

“Looking at the understanding, because it’s a new team with new players. I saw that today, particularly in the first period.”

Slade started with defender Mathieu Baudry playing in midfield and was also full of praise for his new signing from Bournemouth. “I thought he was really solid as well for us,” added the O’s boss.

O’s should have been ahead at the break as Kevin Lisbie had a couple of chances to open his goal account.

At half-time the O’s chief made seven changes plus four more on the hour, as Dean Cox, Baudry, Anthony Griffith and Jimmy Smith all had an extended run out, as Slade again employed a more youthful side after the break and gave a run out to 22 players including triallists Martin Rowlands, Joe Turner and George Saunders.

Ebbsfleet who grabbed the winning goal on 67 minutes when Elder beat second year scholar Sean Grace and netted past Ryan Allsop.

Affy Obafemi should have levelled almost immediately when he raced on to Allsop’s kick, but with just Edwards to beat he blazed over.

Orient: Jones (Allsop 46); James (Odubajo 46), Cuthbert (Chorley 46), Clarke (Rowlands 46), Sawyer (McSweeney 46); Cox (Saunders 60), Baudry (Grace 60), Griffith (Laird 60), Smith (Turner 60); Lisbie (Lobjoit 46), Brunt (Obafemi 46)