O’s Big Marv plays normal game after tricky start
PUBLISHED: 11:00 12 March 2019
Simon O'Connor Photography
The 23-year-old looked set for a tough afternoon against Wrexham, but recovered to be the match-winner
When Marvin Ekpiteta received a booking after seven minutes on Saturday, not many would have expected him to walk away with BT Sport’s man of the match.
Up against Wrexham’s lively Ben Tollitt, the Leyton Orient centre back looked in for a tough match and this proved the case initially.
However by full time, Ekpiteta had not only won his individual battle with the Dragons winger, but also made the breakthrough in what proved to be the winner.
It is hard to say how important O’s 1-0 win over Wrexham will be come the end of the campaign, but at the present time it feels pivotal.
“We have beaten one of the big boys and it gives us momentum for the final stretch and for when we take on the other big teams,” Ekpiteta said.
“The yellow card did play on my mind at first and then I just kind of thought I need to get on with it.
“I knew I had to be careful because I didn’t want to let the boys down, but I just tried to play my normal game.”
Ekpiteta’s plan worked a treat and it helped Orient and himself put some demons to bed.
The last ‘big match’ O’s played was at home to National League promotion-chasers Salford City on January 5 and the visitors left E10 with all three points.
A 3-0 win for Graham Alexander’s Ammies was hard to take for Justin Edinburgh’s men, but they were second best in front of 6,937 spectators and Ekpiteta had a day to forget.
While Orient have played in the quarter-finals of the FA Trophy since and won away on a Tuesday night at Barrow, this fixture with Wrexham was the next big one.
The BT Sport cameras were in attendance and another crowd of over 6,000 was recorded, but this time O’s passed the test and the relief at full time was clear to see.
Not only had Orient picked up three points, they had erased the memory of Salford and Brentford from many years earlier.
Ekpiteta added: “I think Salford at home is the only time we haven’t done well against the big boys this season.
“Every other time we have so we need to keep this momentum now for the rest of the season.”
Of course Ekpiteta is right. O’s have won away to Wrexham and AFC Fylde and seen off Solihull Moors at home, although Moors were not well fancied at the time.
Saturday’s win felt key though, given the opposition were top and the big crowd present, and the fact the match was broadcast live on television. Orient this time didn’t freeze and everyone is starting to believe again.
“I think it is a psychological blow for the teams around us in the table to see the great form we are in,” Ekpiteta concluded. “At the back end of the season you need to be in this type of form, so it is really good.”