FanZoner Craig Rodhouse wonders if Leyton Orient's recent good form is all down to Kevin Lisbie?
Lisbie return has revitalised Leyton Orient
I never thought that the sporting adage 'a one man team' could be an accurate representation of my club. That was until Kevin Lisbie returned from injury two weeks ago.
I think every Leyton Orient supporter realised that our performances would suffer when Lisbie limped off with a hamstring injury against Sheffield United, but I do not think that anyone could have anticipated the dramatic dip in form which coincided with Lisbie's four week lay-off.
Securing only three points out of a possible 18 during the forward's spell on the sidelines saw us plummet towards the foot of the table and had the majority of supporters, myself included, calling for Russell Slade's head.
For once it seems that Barry Hearn's refusal to press the panic button has prevailed for the positive. On the face of it, our performances and results had dropped dramatically and it is instinctive to lay the blame in the direction of the manager.
But looking reflectively, I think any manager in this division would suffer if they lost their star striker for a substantial period and hardly possessed a squad with a plethora of attacking options at their disposal.
Now Lisbie has returned to the squad, we are now beginning to realise what a vital part of our team he was. They say you never realise what you've got until it's gone and that is certainly the case with Lisbie; we had never lost him for such a sustained spell in the past and we probably didn't really appreciate the work that he does for the team.
Although he has lost the yard of pace that you'd expect from a man entering the twilight of his career, his quality is still there for all to see. His first touch and ability to bring others into play belies his League One status, and it is clear to see that he has plied his trade at a much higher level in the past.
It would be unfair to pin our sensational return to form solely on the shoulders of the 34-year-old but the forward has certainly played an integral part in our revival.
It isn't a mere coincidence that we have won five games on the bounce since he has returned to the first team. The five goals that he has grabbed during that period will be the prevailing statistic that grabs attention, but Lisbie also seems to be bringing the best out of the rest of the squad, David Mooney being the main beneficiary.
Mooney's performances had left a lot to be desired but he is finally starting to deliver the sort of displays we came to expect when he signed for the club last season. Mooney hardly commands a sensational past goal scoring record, but he arrived with a decent reputation and with the expectation that his performances would have reached a much higher level than they have.
His confidence in front of goal was as low as a Chelsea manager's confidence in their job, but Mooney finally seems to be coming good and he is beginning to strike up a good partnership with Lisbie at the top of the pitch.
If they can continue in the same vein I feel assured that we can continue our rise up the table and we might even begin to contemplate another flirt with the play-offs come May.