The Football League Paper - - LEAGUE TWO - By James Cun­liffe

LEY­TON Ori­ent boss Omer Riza is re­lieved that his side go into to­mor­row’s must-win rel­e­ga­tion dog fight at home to Hartle­pool with half a chance of pre­serv­ing their 112year Foot­ball League stay, af­ter a cru­cial draw at Lu­ton on Fri­day.

Fol­low­ing six straight de­feats and no goals in their pre­vi­ous three games, the O’s were star­ing rel­e­ga­tion in the face at Ke­nil­worth Road had they lost and to­mor­row’s op­po­nents won.

Liam Kelly put in a real cap­tain’s per­for­mance to al­most stun the Hat­ters, over­turn­ing a 1-0 deficit with a penalty and an as­sist for Tris­tan Abra­hams, be­fore Isaac Vas­sell’s lev­eller for Lu­ton.

But af­ter a mis­er­able sea­son Riza will take the pos­i­tives where he can find them.

“It’s go­ing to be a big game,” the 37-year-old said about the visit of third-from­bot­tom Hartle­pool.

“The good thing is that we’re go­ing into that game with half a chance again. It could have been all over. If we’d have lost (on Fri­day) and they (Pools) had won, it could’ve been all over. That’s not the case. We live to fight another day and against Hartle­pool we’ll def­i­nitely be fight­ing.”

Riza is the Lon­don­ers’ fifth man­ager this sea­son, but de­spite the chaos at Bris­bane Road and the ten-point gap from league safety, he ad­mit­ted he’s rel­ish­ing his first crack at man­age­ment.

“I’m lov­ing it,” he said, adding: “To be man­ager of Ley­ton Ori­ent at 37 years old, when my tar­gets as a coach were to get into man­age­ment in the league at 40 or 45, that’s what you look at. There are a lot of younger man­agers out there and I’m ready to do it. I’m go­ing to take the op­por­tu­nity.”

Riza will have been buoyed by a stun­ning six-minute sec­ond-half come­back against Lu­ton af­ter Danny Hyl­ton’s 20th League Two goal of the sea­son had put the pro­mo­tion-chas­ing Hat­ters ahead in the first half. Though they res­cued a point, it has ef­fec­tively ended re­al­is­tic hopes of Lu­ton fin­ish­ing in the top three – not that as­sis­tant man­ager Paul Hart is throw­ing in the towel just yet. “We’ve got to get a re­sult on Mon­day (at Mans­field) to ce­ment our place in the play­offs but, equally, to put peo­ple un­der pres­sure above us, ul­ti­mately Portsmouth. Hope­fully they will ex­pe­ri­ence some of these freak re­sults.

“It is a moun­tain to climb but at the end of the sea­son we’ve all seen stranger things hap­pen. I will say it’s a long shot but it’s still there and we have to keep be­liev­ing.

“We’ve got a quick turn­around now. The boys are a lit­tle bit dis­ap­pointed now, ob­vi­ously, but they’ll be fine for Mon­day. Our aim was to win both matches over the Easter pe­riod.

“We’ve drawn one, a win will make it look a good Easter on Mon­day and like ev­ery game we’re ap­proach­ing it to win. We know what we have to do.”

PIC­TURES: Pro Sports/ Harry Hub­bard

YES: Ley­ton Ori­ent cel­e­brate Liam Kelly’s penalty and, inset, Danny Hyl­ton nets for Lu­ton STAR MAN LIAM KELLY Ley­ton Ori­ent

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