‘We’ll be looking to bounce back’ – insists Colchester United defender Tom Eastman

Tom Eastman

Tom Eastman - Credit: Archant

Leyton Orient’s table-topping exploits this season have surprised everyone, especially Colchester United centre-half Tom Eastman.

An in-form Eastman, who recently celebrated his 100th career appearance, at the still young age of 22, will be looking to shut-out the marauding O’s at Brisbane Road this afternoon.

The East Londoners are sitting proudly on top of League One, with 13 games of their season remaining, and Eastman will have his work cut out to keep them at bay – Russell Slade’s men are the highest scorers in the division, with an impressive 56 goals.

Ex-Ipswich Town defender Eastman is playing at the top of his game, and is confident that the U’s can bounce back from the disappointing of Tuesday night’s 1-0 home defeat to Sheffield United.

But he admits that he is amazed how well the O’s have done this campaign.

“Leyton Orient are flying. I didn’t think they were going to be up there at the start of the season,” explained Eastman.

“But to be fair to them, they have kept going and kept up there, by picking up wins.

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“They’ve done well to stay up there, because even I was saying – ‘they are not going to keep it up.’

“But they’ve continued to score lots of goals, and been solid at the back. They’ve got a good recipe.

“I think they will be there or thereabouts for the rest of the season now.

“However, we’ll be taking a lot of fans there and hoping to get a result.

“We will be looking to bounce back, especially after our poor performance the other night (against Sheffield United), against a team who have been doing really well this season,” added Eastman.

The ever-improving Eastman has established a strong partnership with Magnus Okuonghae in the heart of defence, and was comfortably the U’s man-of-the-match during that disappointing team display against the Blades.

Not only has he been strong at the back, but he’s also grown in confidence with the ball at his feet, in part due to his graduation from the Ipswich Town Academy, and more lately due to the passing style instilled by current boss Joe Dunne.

“I think I’ve been playing well,” continued Eastman. “I’ve got to keep that going and hopefully the team will start winning again.

“I quite like the ball at my feet. I was brought up at Ipswich, where there was a good passing style, and I’ve always been told to pass well from the back.

“However, first and foremost, I’m a defender.”

Today will be Eastman’s 102nd career appearance – he celebrated his 100th during last weekend’s 2-1 home defeat by Preston.

Following 13 senior outings for Ipswich, and six on loan at Crawley shortly after his switch to Colchester in the summer of 2011, Eastman’s next landmark will be 100 games for the U’s, which he could achieve before the end of this season.

“I saw that I’ve just gone past 100 games, and I’m still at the young age of 22,” said Eastman.

“I’ve still got a long way to go, playing alongside someone like Mags (Okuonghae), who has played hundreds of games.

“I’ve got to keep going. I’m still only at the start of my career.

“I’ve not peaked yet, not until I’m 26 or so, so I have a few more years to keep learning the game and improving.

“Mags and I have played a lot with each over the last two or three years. We know our weaknesses and how to cover for each other.

“It’s been a positive this season, being hard to beat. We’ve been hard to break down. Even when we are not playing well as a team, we have usually ground out a result,

“I didn’t think Sheffield United looked too likely to score, until the penalty (87th minute from Chris Porter), apart from once hitting the post and Sam (Walker) making one good save.

“I think we defended quite well, though on the ball we weren’t quite at it. We didn’t create any chances.

“But despite not playing well, we were still in the game.

“We haven’t been scoring enough goals recently, but we’ve not been conceding many, which is an improvement on last season.

“I certainly think there’s no need to panic. There are no worries at the moment, we know we can do well this season.”

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