28 August 2010

Leyton Orient 3 Exeter City 0, 28/8/10

A game in which... Orient began the game like a ravenous mouse out to devour Exeter's Swiss cheese of a defence. Still, when an opposition teamsheet bears the name Billy Jones - the second Matt Lockwood understudy to return to Brisbane Road in a week - there's always going to be chances. Eventually Orient took three of them in a convincing and comfortable win.

Moment to savour... Dean Cox's celebration after his sumptuous goal, in which he was greeted by Russell Slade in the manner of a proud grandfather about to reward his six-year-old grandson with a packet of Werthers Originals for coming third in the school egg-and-spoon race.

Head in hands moment... It's not often that Scotty McGleish misses the target from six yards with his head - that's Ryan Jarvis's job - but he did so in the first half, before making amends in the second.

King for a day... Chorley, Revell and McGleish all shone, but it's hard to look beyond another all-action display by captain Stephen Dawson, who nearly scored a wonder volley in the first minute and was class throughout.

Boo boy... Elliot Omozusi appears to be following in the tradition of sporadically ponderous Orient right backs - Stephen Purches, Justin Miller, Donny Barnard - and while mostly solid during this game, still has a bit of convincing to do.

In the dug out... Big Russ has developed a habit of looking to the heavens - or, more specifically, directly at Barry Hearn sat in the exec seats - whenever Orient score. Presumably when we next concede he'll hide behind Kevin Nugent and squeak, "It was his fault, it was his fault."  

You're supposed to be away... According to their scarves, Exeter City are the 'Pride of Devon'. Well, there isn't much else to be proud of in the county (Barnstaple town centre? Traffic jams on the A30?) Still, the Grecians at least showed a bit of gallows humour by launching into "We can see you sneaking out" while 3-0 down.

What would Martin Ling have done? Taken the opportunity of being 3-0 up to make a final attempt to 'blood' Derek Duncan, claiming "He's got a big career ahead of him."

Going down? Well, if Orient can't beat Exeter at home then there really is no hope. But they did - and with some style - so still look nailed on for the safety of 20th spot.

25 August 2010

Carling Cup: Leyton Orient 0 West Brom 2, 24/8/10

A game in which... Brisbane Road was spellbound by the visit of a glamorous Premier League team - or at least the 200 or so Orient fans that bothered to turn up were. In reality, you can hardly blame supporters for shunning the League Cup. If I recall correctly the last time the Os got further than round 2, the trophy was named the Hormel Corned Beef Cup and our passage through was due to some wing half trickery from Cyril Bacon.

Moment to savour... Not many. Although Orient were far from embarrassed, West Brom won at a relative canter. Still, it was enjoyable seeing small-man-syndrome poster boy Dean Cox take on and beat ex-O Nicky Shorey on one occasion in the second half. Just think, Nicky, if only you'd stayed at Orient you could have had so many nights like these, rather than playing for England and stuff...

Head in hands moment... Charlie Daniels is through. He's through! The ball is dropping nicely for him, he shapes to shoot and... Oh hang on, it's on his right foot. Row Z here it comes.

King for a day... Another typically industrious performance from human combustion engine Adam Chambers who, if only he could shoot and pass properly, could probably play for West Brom.

Boo boy... Jimmy Smith is the ultimate nondescript player - rarely crap enough to bother slagging off, seldom good enough to warrant praise. Tonight, however, his second half switch to right back - clearly not his position - earns him a mention for general shoddiness, not least his throw-in that didn't quite make it on to the pitch.

In the dug out... "Change the record, it's like Williams all over again," yelled one young buck in the posh seats during the first half. Big Russ thought carefully about his reply - perhaps bringing to mind a witty riposte from Oscar Wilde, or at least Stephen Fry - before countering, "Shut up, you prick." Touche!

You're supposed to be away... "Premiership, you're having a laugh!" crowed the South Stand at the handful of Baggies who'd made the journey to east London, just as West Brom scored their winner. If I lived in Birmingham and supported West Brom - nasty thought - I wouldn't make a midweek trip to Brisbane Road either.

What would Martin Ling have done? Made a triple substitution at 80 minutes, once the game was already lost. "These three are the future of Leyton Orient Football Club," he'd claim, bringing on Loick Pires, Aiden Palmer and Brian Saah.

Going down? Another game, another set of "encouraging signs" that point towards League One survival. Probably best that Orient swap the "encouraging signs" for "actual points" come Saturday though.

15 August 2010

Leyton Orient 1 Charlton 3, 14/8/10

A game in which... Orient embarked on a new tactical era. Over the last 10 years strategic policy at Brisbane Road has apparently been to pack the team full of players under 5ft 6in and then lump a high ball into the box and hope for the best. Under Russell Slade we now have a number of 6ft-plus behemoths in the side, towards which we lump a high ball and hope for the best.

Actually, to be fair, in the first 30 minutes or so Orient passed the ball around with some purpose, before the age-old problems (inability to break opposing sides down, no width) reared their ugly head.

Moment to savour... It's an unusual gambit to leave the mascot on the pitch once the game has kicked off, but it paid off, as 11-year-old schoolboy Dean Cox put in a delightful curling cross to allow Scott McGleish to score.

Head in hands moment... Matthew Spring's second corner which, identically to his first, was aimed directly at the nearest Charlton player. So for Orient this season it looks like "success from a corner" is going to be limited to a trouble-free purchase of The Sun from a local newsagent.

King for a day... New captain Stephen Dawson showed great endeavour in midfield in his home debut. He also seemed a pretty adept mime artist, as he recreated Alan McCormack's penalty-area handball for the benefit of all four corners of the ground.

Boo boy... In the spirit of giving fresh, young talent a chance to flourish, the West Stand was fully behind youth team graduate Mike Cestor for all of three minutes, before verbally tearing him apart for a couple of ponderous moments. Still, there's much to admire in Cestor - he will get better.

In the dug out... Russell Slade, as ever looking like a benevolent if somewhat world-weary PE teacher at a local comprehensive, adopted a formation which apparently tasked all four midfielders with running in a straight line down the middle. Strange decision to leave Tehoue on the bench and bring on Porter too. The jury's still out...

You're supposed to be away... Poor turn out from the Charlton fans and little inventiveness in their chanting - 'We're top of the league' being the best shot. Not for long...

What would Martin Ling have done? Promised in the post-match interview that he would continue his search for an 'even bigger' striker, before making an audacious midweek attempt to buy Julian Joachim from Hinkley United, claiming 'He can do a job for us."

Going down? Losing to Charlton isn't a catastrophe and there were enough positives in the first half to suggest Orient could well make that coveted 20th spot their own once again this season.

10 August 2010

Supporting Orient - it's about managing your expectations

Another August, another Leyton Orient season ticket in hand. This year I considered throwing the £325 straight down the drain - cut out the middle man. Instead, these are the hopes I hold for 2010/11:

1. Promotion to the Championship
Just kidding. The experience of 2007/08 told us that isn't going to happen (top of the league in November but still only pulling crowds of 5000-odd, no mid-season investment etc). Instead - call me an old romantic - I yearn to be still mathmatically in contention for a play-off position come March.

2. Someone scores more than 20 goals in the season
I was six when Peter Kitchen scored 29 goals in the 1977/78 season. If I'd known that in the subsequent 32 years not one player would even get to 20 league goals in a single campaign, I'd have supported bloody Arsenal.

3. Orient stop conceding goals in added time at the end of the first half
This is really annoying.

4. Orient actually win games by more than one goal
This only happened six times last season - I know, I just checked. Incredibly, it only happened six times in the 2005/06 promotion season too. Seriously, my heart can't take too many of those 'backs to the wall' final 10 minutes.

5. Ryan Jarvis gets a simple chance in front of goal, and puts it away
I am so over 'non-scoring' Orient strikers who retain their place in the team because they 'work hard'. Give me a bone-lazy, skilful finisher - let's call him 'Adam Boyd' for the sake of argument - any day of the week.

6. Scott McGleish protects his head
I can't remember many games in which Scotty didn't go down with a head injury at some point - usually in the first five minutes. Possibly this is some sort of psychological ploy to get the referee on side. Otherwise, seriously, Scotty - you're 48, take it easy.

7. Avoiding relegation
Sometimes as an Orient fan you have to think big - and I'm not talking Peter Shilton in 1996/97. Sadly, for us, thinking big is aspiring to avoid relegation. Still, come on you Os...
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