Leyton Orient v Doncaster Rovers: Peter Kitchen's joy and sadness at contrasting fortunes
Peter Kitchen will be left with mixed feelings when his former clubs Doncaster Rovers and Leyton Orient clash on Saturday.
A legend at both clubs, this season the former striker has watched on as they head in opposite directions.
It would take a dramatic turn of events for the two clubs not to be heading out of League Two in May.
League leaders Rovers are on the up. Orient are slumping out of the Football League – if they survive that long.
On Monday, the club will be at the High Court to answer a winding up order of an unpaid tax bill, meaning Saturday’s game could be the last in their current guise.
The two situations could hardly be more contrasting and will make a bittersweet day for Kitchen when they meet this weekend.
“I’m obviously delighted with what is happening at Doncaster,” he told the Free Press.
“They are definitely on the up and I fully expect them to go up as champions.
“I’ve seen them two or three times this season and they’ve been a pleasure to watch.
“Darren Ferguson has done a fantastic job and deserves plenty of credit.
“Unfortunately it’s the opposite at Orient who you expect will drop out of the league regardless of what happens with the winding up order.
“It’s been really difficult watching them decline so much over the last few seasons.
“Whatever happens on Saturday, I don’t think the result will affect what happens to either club. Doncaster will go up and Orient will go down.”
Mexborough-born Kitchen has seen Rovers in the flesh a handful of times this season and has been impressed by the transformation from last season when they were relegated from League One.
He said: “I saw them about a year ago at Colchester and they were abysmal that day. They looked so short of confidence.
“But it’s so different now. Ferguson has put so much confidence into the team which is a massive thing in football.
“You only have to look at Chelsea and the difference between them last season and this, with largely the same players.
“It’s a very similar situation to Doncaster. It makes a big difference because as a player you go into every game believing you will win.
“You can see that in Doncaster. I saw them the other week at Crawley and you could see it then. They should have won that game easily.”
Kitchen says successive managers have failed to inspire the same confidence in Orient since they were beaten in the League One play-off final in 2014 by Rotherham United.
Italian Francesco Becchetti bought the club soon after defeat at Wembley and has proven to be a controversial owner.
Becchetti has appointed ten managers during his tenure, including latest incumbent Danny Webb, and according to reports has regularly involved himself in team selection.
But his involvement has waned since November when Orient supporters joined their counterparts at Blackpool in a protest against their clubs’ respective owners.
Kitchen, who will be in the stands at Brisbane Road this weekend, said: “He seemed to throw his toys out of the pram after that and has hardly been seen since.
“I think he thought he could make some money out of the club, particularly after they came so close to playing in the Championship but he quickly realised that wouldn’t be the case.
“He let a few of the top earners leave in January and didn’t provide any funds to sign any players.
“They have been forced to have six or seven youth players in the squad on matchdays.
“There’s some very good young players there but it’s incredibly difficult in the situation they’re in.
“As long as Doncaster don’t take it lightly, I’d fully expect them to win comfortably.”
John Marquis will be intent on scoring against another of his former loan clubs, just like he did against Cheltenham last weekend.
Will Orient, who have the second worst defensive record in the league, be able to stop him?
Rovers have won on their last two trips to the Matchroom Stadium without conceding a goal.
Rob Jones scored the only goal of the game the last time the sides met in London in 2015.
And it was 2-0 in 2012/13 thanks to first half goals from Iain Hume and David Cotterill.
Rovers have not lost in their last five visits to Orient. Their last defeat there was an 8-0 thrashing in 1997.
Orient 4/1 Draw 11/4 Rovers 4/6