Leyton Orient’s goalless draw at home to Mansfield Town at the weekend brought a sense of frustration around Brisbane Road not felt since last month’s insipid defeat to Harrogate Town.
On the one hand, it demonstrates the strides that Kenny Jackett has taken in his opening few months as O’s boss while arguably much of the annoyance didn’t come about due to the performance, more from the final result.
The opening period was a case of two well organised sides cancelling each other out with Mansfield boss Nigel Clough determined to keep things tight against an in-form O’s.
In the second-half, Orient worked their way through the gears only to be denied by a mixture of questionable officiating and poor finishing.
This was the first game the O’s had failed to score since the aforementioned loss to Harrogate, and Jackett’s side were arguably due a dip in front of goal having scored three goals from just three shots last time out against Bristol Rovers.
Marshalled by the commanding Farrand Rawson and striker turned centre-back Oli Hawkins, the Stags backline also played their part in keeping Orient at bay.
The inclusion of the 6’5 Hawkins in the back four was perhaps a glimpse into the way teams are being forced to alter their approach to deal with the immense aerial threat posed by Orient forward Harry Smith.
However, the most impressive aspect of the display was undoubtedly Orient’s defence, as the back three limited Mansfield’s attack, including prolific former O’s player Danny Johnson, to only scraps and half chances.
Indeed, the O’s have been defensively resolute throughout their first nine league fixtures, especially since switching to 3-4-3, conceding just seven league goals so far and picking up three clean sheets in five games since the formation change.
Impressive enough, but that doesn’t tell the full story.
The majority of the goals Leyton Orient have conceded have come through sloppy mistakes or individual errors, three of those seven have come from penalties and just three have been conceded via open play.
Jackett’s structured system excels in limiting the opposition’s chances in front of goal and this is reflected in the data.
Orient have far and away the best record in terms of shots conceded from open play in the entire division with a total of just 48.
For context, the team with the next best record is Hartlepool who have conceded 57 shots, while leaders Forest Green have given up 75.
As well as their effectiveness in defence, a further sign the O’s are currently a well drilled side is how dangerous they are from set-pieces.
Creative routines devised by the coaching staff and a number of six-foot behemoths such as Smith, Omar Beckles, Darren Pratley and Alex Mitchell flooding the box have ensured Orient lead the way in League Two with seven set-piece goals.
All of this points to the fact that, despite Saturday’s result, the process is demonstrably working for Jackett’s side.
In the end, the game against Mansfield didn’t fall Orient’s way but if they maintain the same style of play, they’ll win more of these types of games.
Jackett himself probably summed it up best in his post-match comments, “If you keep creating situations then the percentages will work for you.”
Maintaining this performance level will be paramount for the O’s and, should they be able to do so, will firmly be in promotion contention heading into the busy winter months.