22 November 2014

Leyton Orient 4 Crewe Alexandra 1, 22/11/14

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A game in which... Orient finally threw the monkey – I say monkey, more like a King Kong-sized gorilla – off their back and won a league game at home. Yes, today the players beat their chests and roared, putting in a performance that bristled with energy and impetus.

Particularly pleasing was the reappearance of some of the elements we've been missing from last season – "passing", "defending" and "scoring", for example – and the fact that even when Crewe got one back we didn't totally fall apart. Much to enjoy.

Jump off your seat moment... The jaw dropping moment in the first half when our new left back attempted a mid-air volleyed shot from the touch line about 40 yards out. Who the hell does he think he is, Andrea Dossena of Liverpool, Napoli and the Italian national team? Seriously though, this guy has more than a touch of class, and if that's what £12,000 a week of Albanian waste management money gets you, I'm all for it.

Give that man a medal... Excellent stuff from Vincelot, Mooney, Wright and more, but Lord Almighty, where did that performance from Chris Dagnall come from? The bearded goal-nipper was everywhere, scampering around like he'd just ingested a bucket-load of street ketamine and was trying to gain entry to every single Liverpool nightclub in the space of 90 minutes. This was not only his best display in an Orient shirt, but possibly the best display by anyone ever in an Orient shirt, or even the best display by any footballer in all of history. Which brings me to...

Taxi for... the match sponsors Anderson Travel. One can only imagine how many bottles of Theo's restaurant's famous paint stripper-flavoured wine they had drunk before deciding that Chris Dagnall's one beautiful goal and THREE ASSISTS did not merit their man of the match award. Sure, their recipient Romain Vincelot played well too, but his mantelpiece is already straining under the weight of the 48 awards he received from the Supporters' Club for his 48 appearances last season. Let's hope Anderson Travel don't apply the same logic for awarding man of the match to their coach trips. "Oh, you wanted Cornwall mate? We're taking you to Bradford instead. Same difference, hey?"

"Fuck the technical shit"... Mauro Milanese once again saved his job by not losing two games in a row, and this time he did it in style. Clearly he's trying to get his Orient team to play the ball along the floor, which is nice. He also seems to have figured out how to stop us conceding from set pieces, principally by getting Kevin Dearden to yell madly from the touchline to tell each player who they should be marking. And with in-form Simpson and Lowry both to come back, things are looking brighter at Brisbane Road.

Meanwhile on Twitter... ADAM LEGZDINS HAS BEEN ARRESTED! As this mug shot demonstrates, it seems our hipster keeper has been in trouble with the law. What could have been his crime? Speeding down Dalston High Street on his hipster unicycle? Forgetting to pay for his cold-pressed organic soy milk latte? Not having enough tattoos of swallows? No, actually, this is just a promo shot for Adam's hipster barber. At ease everyone.

11 November 2014

Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Leyton Orient 2 Northampton Town 0, 11/11/14

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A game in which... the 48 fans that bothered to turn up saw things they wouldn't believe: an Orient player score a one-on-one, a Marvin Bartley goal, a home victory... And all those moments will be lost in time, like tears in the rain. 

Yes, that's right readers, I'm almost certainly alienating 75% of you by trying to riff on the 1982 sci-fi film Blade Runner, but tonight did feel like a glimpse into the future. And by that I mean we'll probably fare ok when we're in League Two next season. Just kidding – actually there were signs of progress in a more solid defensive performance, an industrious display in midfield and encouraging interplay between strikers Simpson and Dagnall. Not quite time to die yet, then. (Here endeth the Blade Runner references.) 

Jump off your seat moment... A delightfully mazy run into the penalty box by Chris Dagnall at the start of the second half. He weaves left, he weaves right, he weaves left again, he briefly stumbles over his own Scouse accent, he breaks free on the edge of the six-yard box, he sets himself up for goal of the season... Oh, he's spooned his shot into the far corner of the south stand. Still, a great shift by the bearded goal-nipper. 

Give that man a medal... Now, Marvin Bartley was by no means the best player on the pitch tonight, but he possibly wasn't the worst and, by Christ, that's progress. A couple of his passes weren't backwards, a couple of his tackles weren't mistimed and – to top it all – he sealed victory with a well-taken goal that almost certainly wasn't a miscued cross. Do the Bartman? Yes I do. 

Taxi for... Gary Sawyer. Not because he played badly – he didn't – but because with the arrival of Champions League-pedigreed Andrea Dossena it looks like his days of being fifth-choice left-back after Omozusi, Lowry, Pritchard, Ling and Ada the kit man are numbered. Personally I always thought that when he wasn't being torn apart by Carl Baker he was pretty decent. Wanna make something of it? 

"Fuck the technical shit"... Mauro Milanese might just have saved his job with his first win in four attempts as Orient's caretaker-interim-temporary-manager. How did he do it? By playing the 11 fit professionals available to him mostly in their correct positions. But, joking aside, this was a markedly improved performance and from tiny seeds a mighty trunk may grow. Which begs the question: what the hell did he have planted in his head to explain that hair? 

Meanwhile on Twitter... For on-loan Orient midfielder Josh Wright there are many advantages to being the less-famous sibling to Mark Wright of The Only Way is Essex and Strictly Come Dancing and Jess Wright of The Only Way Is Essex and... well, just that. He gets VIP entry to Faces, Gants Hill, for example while lesser names such as, ooh, let's say Jimmy Smith, are left #fuming in the queue. But perhaps the best is that he gets Orient cup cakes made for him bearing his likeness, as seen in this photo he tweeted last week. Eat my face! 

02 November 2014

Leyton Orient 2 Coventry City 2, 1/11/14

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A game in which... it became apparent that there must be some sort of hoodoo upon Brisbane Road that prevents Orient from ever winning a home game. Perhaps the stadium was erected upon an ancient Indian burial ground and the Gods are displeased? Perhaps a terrible tragedy unfolded on the land in medieval times? Or perhaps the reasons are less the plot of a Stephen King novel and more that we're, well, just a bit shit?

Sigh. In truth there were further signs of improvement. In the first half Orient dominated possession, though only had one shot off target to show for it. In the second the team showed admirable spirit and bluster to come back from behind to lead 2-1, only to blow it at the death. Still, I think better things are to come from this squad, although (KLAXON! I'm about to run with the Stephen King analogies here) expect more Misery before they're really Shining.

Nathan Clarke 
Jump off your seat moment... Two actually. The first a jaw-dropping slide tackle from Mathieu Baudry in the first half that swept the ball away from Coventry's Gary Madine just as he was about to puncture the Orient net. The second a Benny Hill-esque combination of misjudgment and slip from Nathan Clarke that led to the visitors' first goal. I use these two contrasting incidents to illustrate a point: we still have very classy defenders in our squad, and if they can somehow eradicate the momentary lapses then we may have a foundation for climbing the table.

Give that man a medal... And talking of the defence, what a man Scott Cuthbert is. Whether crunching into tackles on the touchline, rising majestically like Ben Nevis to head Orient into the lead or growing a thick beard 20 minutes before the start of today's game simply through the power he has over his own testosterone, the Scotsman will be fundamental to the success or otherwise of the rest of this season.

Taxi for... Were it not for the fact that Jobi McAnuff bucked his ideas up for a 15-minute spell in the second half by God he would be feeling the full force of one of my metaphors likening him to a widely-mocked X-Factor contestant. As it is, the fact that he does momentarily display flashes of the class that you'd expect of a one-time Premier League captain makes it even more bewildering that the winger is offering so little in an Orient shirt.

"Fuck the technical shit"... Mauro Milanese showed that he truly appreciated the long tradition of Orient managers by sending out his players in 4-4-2 formation and hoping for the best. To be fair to him he's got the team trying to play more football along the floor – albeit at the moment mostly in a quadrangle between the defence and the goalkeeper – and he appears to have instilled a bit more passion into them. What a shame, then, that if his side lose to Oldham next week then he's likely to be replaced by, oh I don't know, Ada Martin the kit man in Francisco Becchetti's ever-patient search for stability and success.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Hey, what's this: a message from ex-Orient keeper Jamie Jones to fans of the club that paid his wages for six years and gave him the opportunity to make a career in professional football. A heartfelt vote of thanks? A stirring statement of support? Erm, no, this actually: "Another home win for you today? O wait... No it wasn't. Enjoy your relegation battle." I leave it to fan Edina to summarise the general reaction to this far more eloquently than I could: "What a muggy little c**t."

28 October 2014

Leyton Orient 0 Preston North End 2, 28/10/14

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A game in which... the result could have been so different. Imagine if ex-Orient keeper Jamie Jones hadn't pulled off a double-worldy in the first half; if Jay Simpson had buried his one-on-one minutes earlier; if half our squad wasn't injured; if we hadn't conceded two soft goals; if we hadn't sold Moses Odubajo; if our Italian owners hadn't forced Russell Slade out of the club; if money grew on trees; and if troubles really could melt like lemon drops... perhaps then we could've scraped a draw.

As it was Orient actually put in a pretty spirited performance – you couldn't really fault their effort – without coming away with anything to show for it. Yeah Preston are pretty good, but God knows we finished above them last season, which demonstrates just how far this club has fallen in the space of a few months. Depressing, really.

Gianvito Plasmati after being lightly brushed on the arm 
Jump off your seat moment... The moment that the ball fell invitingly to new boy Gianvito Plasmati on the edge of Preston's six-yard box with the goal gaping. Were it not for the fact he smashed the ball straight at Jamie Jones the 6ft 6in Italian may have instantly won the hearts of the Orient faithful. Still, throughout his time on the pitch he showed a few good touches, a couple of bad ones and one theatrical swan dive to the ground reminiscent of Willem Dafoe's iconic death scene in the film Platoon. Still, let's give the lad a chance before we totally write him off, hey?

Give that man a medal... Dean Cox worked his little cotton socks off tonight – and that's no metaphor, he really does wear little cotton socks – but most pleasing was the performance of Jay Simpson. The former Thailand backpacker is getting better and better each game, and he looked lively and threatening throughout.

Taxi for... McAnuff said.

"Fuck the technical shit"... It was strange sight to see Mauro Milanese patrolling the touchline tonight – not because he was first non-British manager to take charge of Leyton Orient, but because his hair appears to contradict seven rules of evolutionary biology, nine rules of quantum physics and every rule of fashion that has existed since the dawn of time. On the pitch nothing much seemed to have changed save for the fact Mauro had lumped an unfit Italian up front and boldly elected to give 11-year-old Scott Kashket a run out ahead of a presumably #fuming Chris Dagnall. Still, let's give the manager a chance before we totally write him off, hey?

Meanwhile on Twitter... Nice work from the Orient Ramble podcast boys, who helpfully illustrated the current status of Orient's usual starting XI from last season. And if that depresses you even more, cheer yourself up with this video of manager Mauro Milanese indulging in what passes for "entertainment" in Italy, as discovered by Jay Lillington.


26 October 2014

GUEST POST! Port Vale 3 Leyton Orient 0, 25/10/14

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Curiously, there's no "port" and no "vale" anywhere near Port Vale. Apparently it's not even a place at all. Despite all this, guest blogger Andy Brown managed to locate Orient somewhere in deepest, darkest Staffordshire. Probably wishes he hadn't bothered, mind. Here's his take on the game... 

Orient's rearguard action? Not so much
A game in which… The form book suggested that Orient would continue their bizarre record of winning away in grim northern towns following their surprising victory over Doncaster in the week. Only it didn’t pan out like that, as a ten-man Orient – far from putting in a dogged Rorke’s Drift rear-guard action – folded like a cheap tent to give Vale the easiest game they’ll play all season. 

Jump off your seat moment… Darius Henderson, who always goes up for headers flapping his arms about like a pig trying to fly, managed to earn himself a red card. None of us wanted to be there in the cold and rain either, but you didn’t see us getting ejected just to ride shotgun out of Stoke-on-Trent.

Give that man a medal… A tough call as nobody covered themselves in glory, but Gary Woods made a good save at 0-0 and Shane Lowry and Scott Cuthbert did their best in an otherwise poor defence. Dean Cox gave Orient a real lift when he came on, but the injury list is now so long that for Tuesday's game against Preston we may see Kevin Dearden on the (reinforced) bench.  

Taxi for… Plenty of shocking performances today, but the midfield in particular was non-existent, with no Vincelot or long term absentee Lloyd James. The “Marvin Bartley masquerading as a footballer” joke is wearing very thin, and the “Jobi McAnuff can’t be arsed for his five-figure-a-week salary” joke is even less amusing. To paraphrase the great Franz Beckenbauer: “Woods apart, you could take all of them, put them in a bag and hit them with a stick. Whoever got hit would deserve it”

“Fuck the technical shit”… In his post-match interview, Orient’s interim manager Kevin Nugent showed more evasiveness than an eel covered in oil. Apparently Orient didn’t start well, didn’t make tackles and would hope to have done better with ten men. No surprise then that the next day he was demoted from "acting-interim-caretaker-head-coach" to simply "coach", with ex-sporting director Mauro Milanese now in the driving seat. 


Burslem by day 
Meanwhile in a place not called Port Vale… Burslem may well look like a setting for The Walking Dead, which probably explains why Orient always do badly at Port Vale when it’s daylight, and they can see where they are. But it surprised me to learn from a friend and Staffordshire native that the Red Lion pub is in fact on the Robbie Williams heritage trail tour. No wonder he hit the drugs hard! It looks more to me like a guaranteed chance of getting stabbed, so someone is having a laugh!

19 October 2014

Leyton Orient 0 MK Dons 0, 18/10/14

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A game which... optimists might describe as a point gained, pessimists would consider two points lost while everyone else will just ponder all the five billion ways they could have better spent that 90 minutes. Oh, Orient. Sure, you huffed and puffed a bit in the first half, but the contrast between this season and last – when you roared back from 1-0 down to beat MK Dons and remain top of the table – is huge. Huge, Nuge, huge...

Karl Robinson
Jump off your seat moment... For Karl Robinson it was every single moment the ball entered the Orient box, whereupon he'd leap around maniacally screeching for a phantom penalty. By the second half Orient's Kevin Dearden became so incensed with this behaviour that he confronted the MK manager, a scene which resembled an ill-conceived comedy sketch in which James Corden is berated by a giant slug.

Give that man a medal... A sterling performance from Shane Lowry today, including one Exocet of a shot with his left foot that, had it not bounced off the MK keeper, would probably by now be hurtling past Kiev. And he's no chicken when it comes to tackling either. Sorry. 

Darius Henderson
Taxi for... Darius Henderson. The big striker spent most of the game slugging it out with MK defender Kyle McFadzean like a punch-drunk ex-heavyweight persuaded back into the ring for one last shot at glory. Were Henderson starring in Rocky II, Rocky III, Rocky IV, Rocky V or Rocky: Assignment Miami Beach this would have constituted a fine performance. As a striker in League One, not so much. 

"Fuck the technical shit"... "I'm in charge of this football team," said Kevin Nugent defiantly after the game, ironically at the precise moment that his clandestine Italian paymasters were signing an unfit, low-scoring striker on his behalf. (Welcome to Orient, Gianvito Plasmati!) I can't even joke about this anymore: the fact that the club has not uttered a single word on Nugent's position is beyond belief, and it's a disgrace to treat a decent and loyal servant of Orient in this manner. 

Meanwhile in the programme... Props to Orient's media and communications officer Jonny Davies this week. Since the Italians introduced omertà to the club, Jonny now has exactly 24 hours of each day spare, so devoted some time to creating this sly little dig at Franchise FC – a heartfelt two-page paean to former Wimbledon home Plough Lane. Jonny: we're with you in spirit. 

04 October 2014

Leyton Orient 1 Swindon Town 2, 4/10/14

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Darius Henderson
A game in which... Orient's aggression, desire and passion made them extremely dangerous. Unfortunately that aggression, desire and passion was concentrated entirely into a five-second melee in added time that saw Dean Cox shout at Nathan Byrne's knee and Darius Henderson juggernaut himself into an unfortunate Swindon player who is now presumably extracting himself from the back of the West Stand. 

Other than that the Os were insipid, error-strewn and lacking in ideas. If this is the new dawn then perhaps we should have all stayed in bed.

Jump off your seat moment... The moment Jay Simpson was released on goal by a wayward Swindon back pass only to be called offside in direct contradiction of the actual rules of the game of football. One can only imagine what would have happened if the striker had been able to continue his run. I'll go out on a limb and say that he would have scuffed a weak shot into the corner flag. That's what you get if you take a gap year from your career to go backpacking round Thailand. 

Give that man a medal... Poor old Dean Cox. God knows he gave it his all today but one man alone cannot win football matches. At the moment the midfielder must feel a bit like Keith Richards trying to jam with the Leyton 1st district cub scouts brass band and Rochelle from the Saturdays. 

Taxi for... Now, it's easy to knock Marvin Bartley, so that's exactly what I'm going to do. I really can't imagine what the question is if he is the answer, unless it's "What would happen if you asked a qualified window fitter with no previous experience of football to play in midfield for a League One club?" 

"Fuck the technical shit"... Presumably to put clear blue water between himself and his former boss, Kevin Nugent opted to tinker with his formation throughout the game, starting with a 4-2-3-1, moving back to 4-4-2, giving 7-2-3-4 a bash, reverting to a 8-0-0-7-1 then seeing how he fared with 0-1-9-8-2. None of this had any discernible effect so he instead resorted to trying to substitute Chris Dagnall 20 minutes after he'd already brought him off. 

Let's face it, Nuge – a decent and loyal guy – probably isn't the right person to sort this whole sorry mess out. When you have a mess of this size, you need someone with proper experience of waste management. Oh, hang on... 

Meanwhile on Twitter... Hats off to James Turley for producing this meme referencing the infamous moment last season when a Swindon pitch invader tried to attack Jamie Jones. Still, there was no such nonsense from Robins fans this time round. Instead they tried to set fire to the East Stand twice and then one have-a-go-hero tried to take on eight of the Metropolitan Police's finest. Top work lads! 
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