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Opposition Lowdown: Richie Wellens’ Leyton Orient

Reading will have another chance to end their league away winless streak this weekend, when they make the trip to East London to take on Leyton Orient. Join us as we take a closer look at the opposition.

Leyton Orient v Shrewsbury Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by James Baylis - AMA/Getty Images


Leyton Orient secured promotion back to League One last season after finishing as champions of League Two, six points clear of runners-up Stevenage. They last played third-tier football in the 2014/15 season and actually dropped out of the Football League in 2017.

They spent four seasons in League Two following promotion back to the Football League in 2019. Orient currently sit 16th in the league after four wins, two draws and five losses so far this season.

The two sides last faced each other in the league in the 1993/94 season. However, the last game between the sides came in 2000 in the League Cup, where Orient beat the Royals 2-0 in a first-round replay following a 1-1 at the Madejski Stadium.

The boss

Richie Wellens: Wellens was appointed Orient manager in March 2022, taking over from Kenny Jackett, who was sacked after nine months in charge. Wellens was a midfielder during his playing career, having come through the Manchester United academy. He played for the likes of Blackpool, Leicester City and Doncaster Rovers over the course of an 18-year professional career.

He started his coaching career in 2017, starting out at Oldham Athletic where he was then appointed manager. His next managerial role came at Swindon Town, where he secured promotion to League One after the season was cut short due to Covid-19.

A four-month spell at Salford followed in 2020, after which he joined former club Doncaster in 2021, where he lasted six months. Wellens secured promotion in his first full season at Leyton Orient, winning the League Two title and the manager-of-the-season award.

The 43-year-old likes his teams to play attacking football, seeing Sir Alex Ferguson as one of his greatest inspirations.


It was a busy summer in East London as Orient prepared for life in League One with 11 players joining the club. Five joined on free transfers with midfielders Ethan Galbraith and Max Sanders, winger Jordan Graham and forwards Joe Pigott and Joe Agyei all coming through the door at Brisbane Road. Goalkeeper Sam Howes signed from non-league Wealdstone.

Five players have also come in on loan with goalkeeper Sol Brynn (Middlesbrough), defenders Ed Turns (Brighton & Hove Albion) and Brandon Cooper (Swansea City), midfielder Idris El Mizouni (Ipswich Town) and striker Shaqai Forde (Watford) all joining on a temporary basis.

10 players left the club over the summer, including goalkeeper Lawrence Vigouroux, who joined Premier League Burnley, and winger Paul Smyth, who rejoined QPR. Right-back Shadrach Ogie joined League Two Gillingham while midfielder Craig Clay and forward Harry Smith both joined Sutton United.

Expected line-up

Brynn, Hunt, Cooper, Happe, Turns, Brown, El Mizouni, Galbraith, Sotiriou, Archibald, Pigott

Key player

Ruel Sotiriou: Winger Sotiriou is a product of the Orient academy and made his debut for the club in 2017. He signed his first professional contract with the club in 2018 and made a number of loan moves before becoming a regular first-teamer at Brisbane Road.

Sotiriou spent time at Bishops Stortford, Chelmsford City, Hampton & Richmond and Dover Athletic. He became a first-team regular for Orient in 2020 and has now made 137 appearances for the club, scoring 30 goals.

The Cyprus-born forward has represented his country at under-19 and under-21 level. He is Orient’s top scorer so far this season with four goals to his name. The 23-year-old can play on the wing or as a striker and is a strong finisher, who likes to run at defenders.

One to watch

Ethan Galbraith: Midfielder Galbraith joined Leyton Orient this summer, signing from Manchester United on a free transfer. He started his youth career at Linfield in Northern Ireland before joining the Manchester United academy in 2017. He made his debut for United in 2019, coming on as a sub in a Europa League match against Astana.

Galbraith has already had game time in the Football League after having loan spells at Doncaster Rovers and Salford City. The 22-year-old central midfielder has also been capped by Northern Ireland, having also represented his country at under-17, under-19 and under-21 level.

Galbraith is a strong passer of the ball who is known to play effective long balls as well as short passes.