Embleton proud of Orient players and sure Justin would be after opening-day win
PUBLISHED: 18:42 03 August 2019 | UPDATED: 18:42 03 August 2019
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The O’s started life back in League Two with a 1-0 victory over Cheltenham Town on a challenging, but memorable day at Brisbane Road
Ross Embleton praised Leyton Orient's players for overcoming a tough start and for handling the emotion of being back at Brisbane Road for a competitive fixture for the first time since Justin Edinburgh's death.
It was always going to be a tough day for everyone associated with the club and the late head coach and it felt fitting Josh Wright scored the only goal of the game.
He found the net in the 68th minute and unveiled an O's shirt with Edinburgh 3 on the back in front of the family, who were sat in the West Stand.
All this followed an eventful start to proceedings in E10 with a minute's silence - after two tribute flags had been taken around the pitch - and then Dean Brill needed to be replaced with concussion after taking a whack when he appeared to foul Luke Varney.
No penalty was given and it allowed Orient to slowly grow into the contest before they stepped things up and found the winning goal in the second half.
"I hope Justin would have been proud," Embleton admitted. "We certainly were proud of the performance.
"I know they had two people sent off (Varney and Rohan Ince), but after the first eight minutes where they had a little moment and the guy went down in the area and we lost Deano, I thought the boys really recovered well.
"We were obviously conscious of how the start was going to look, which they were to, and we just wanted to get over that hurdle so we could settle into the game and give ourselves a chance."
Once Orient got into their stride, with Sam Sargeant on for Brill, they kept possession well, but struggled to create chances.
New signing Lee Angol looked bright and he fired home in the 42nd minute, although his celebrations were short-lived with the offside flag up.
He did play a part in the winner though, heading down for Conor Wilkinson, who saw a shot blocked that rolled perfectly for Wright to poke home from close range.
Embleton added: "It was fitting really, but there were a number of players out there where had they scored the first goal, people would have said it was dedicated to the gaffer.
"But at the same time, given Josh's history, the fact he came back here again and that he made his first start today, I'm delighted for him to make his mark on the game.
"I was pleased with his goal and pleased with his performance and I just hope the two red cards don't take anything away from what we did."
While the focus has been on Edinburgh and rightly so, the job done by Embleton and his staff of Danny Webb and Jobi McAnuff over the last six weeks in particular has been nothing short of remarkable.
All three have had to go through a grieving process, while continuing to lead from the front like the late O's manager would have wanted.
Orient's current interim head coach Embleton spoke to the players just before kick-off after the minute's silence and admitted today's match was extremely difficult after returning to the stadium last week for the friendly with a Norwich City XI.
He said: "I kept trying to help the lads through it and every time I did I found myself standing in another huddle with them all looking at me, so I tested myself on three or four occasions to try and take the sting out of it.
"Ordinarily I wouldn't go on the pitch, I don't do that anymore Jobi does, but I just wanted to help the boys and make them understand that we had done our dedication and now it was about getting the game face on.
"Soon enough we settled down and showed our quality, but it has been extremely tough. From an individual perspective last weekend was difficult standing in this dugout without Justin stood beside us, but today was the toughest moment of my career."
Embleton conceded the fans, who chanted about Edinburgh constantly, gave him a lump in his throat on numerous occasions.
The noise inside Brisbane Road was deafening, especially at kick-off, and alongside the Cheltenham supporters they ensured a fitting tribute took place for the late boss on a memorable afternoon for everyone inside the ground.
O's interim head coach added: "They brought a tear to my eye on a few occasions today and not just for the Justin songs and that's been the most surreal thing about dealing with this summer - those strange moments.
"When people have been singing about us being champions, it has taken me back to last season and the special moments we all shared.
"The messages I have had over the summer have always been positive and this crowd are willing and ready to back you and give you everything you need to have a positive season and to put in positive performances.
"At the same time, I felt we gave them the opportunity to do that. Certainly some of those moments today will not be forgotten."
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