Jones back on familiar turf

Jamie Jones
Jamie Jones
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Jamie Jones will have to remember to turn left rather than right when he walks into Brisbane Road with Preston North End tonight (Tuesday).

After six years as a Leyton Orient player, the stroll to the home dressing room became a familiar one for the keeper.

But it will be as a Lilywhites player that he ventures to East London for the rearranged against the O’s.

Jones made 179 appearances for Orient before his Bosman move to PNE in June.

The last of those games was the League One play-off final which saw the Londoners lose in a penalty shoot-out to Rotherham.

While he was offered a new contact by Orient, Jones took the chance to seek pastures new and move to Deepdale.

To date, the 25-year-old has been ever-present in the league and is happy in his new surroundings.

His return to London’s East End was always going to be a stand-out fixture for him but he’s had to wait a little longer than anticipated after the scheduled date fell during an international break.

“When the fixtures came out in June this game was one of the first I looked out for together with Christmas games, my birthday, that sort of thing,” Jones told the Evening Post.

“I’m still friends with a good number of the Orient lads and it will be nice to play against them. The team spirit was always good and that was one of the reasons why we did so well last season and came close to being promoted.

“It might feel a bit strange walking into the ground and heading for the away dressing room rather than the home.

“I’ve been in the away one a few times, we used to change in there if we trained at the ground.

“I was at Orient for a long time after moving from Everton and I started playing regularly in the first-team when I was 19.

“Kevin Nugent gave me my chance when he was caretaker manager and the regular keeper went ill one weekend.

“I’ll always thank him for giving me my chance and I played regularly after that for five or six years apart from when I had a couple of injuries.”

Until Sunday, Nugent was again holding the fort as interim manager after Russell Slade’s exit to Cardiff City.

While he was expected to be in charge through to the end of the season, sporting director Mauro Milanese was appointed boss.

Said Jones: “I saw the news about the change of manager on Sky Sports News on Sunday and I don’t know if it is a good or bad thing.

“I’m not sure if some of their lads are too happy about the situation there since Barry Hearn sold the club.

“It is not for me to worry about, I’m a Preston player and my focus is on helping us to try and get three points.”

North End go to Orient on the back of seven straight wins, six of those in the league.

The latest was Saturday’s 3-2 victory Fleetwood, a game in which PNE fought back from going 2-0 down inside the first seven minutes.

Jones said: “It was very much a game of two halves, the character and belief which we showed in the second half was unbelievable.

“A lot of credit has to go to the manager who made those two great substitutions at half-time. Kevin Davies and John Welsh coming on made a huge difference to the game.

“Fleetwood caught us cold with their two early goals and while they didn’t really sit on the lead, they didn’t create too much after that.

“In the second half we played well, Chris Humphrey also came on in the second half at right-back to push us up the pitch on that side.

“We weren’t at it for the first 45 minutes but we showed what we are all about in the second half.”

Joe Garner was on target with all three PNE goals in an 18-minute spell.

Garner is a striker who Jones knew plenty about from playing against last season, Garner’s superb volley flying past him when PNE won 1-0 at previously unbeaten Orient last November.

Jones said: “Joe is an outstanding striker and there was no stopping that goal.

“That was one of his early goals in the run he’s on. He scored that cracker in the play-off semi-final too and goals like that are not a rarity, they fly in like that in training too.

“The work Joe gets through off the ball is amazing, while he is good in the air too – when I kick the ball up to him, I reckon he wins nine out of 10 headers in the air.

“I’m just glad I’m on his side now.”