16 October 2010

Leyton Orient 1 Hartlepool United 0, 16/10/10

A game in which... Orient abandoned their previously unsuccessful tactic of playing reasonably well and then losing in favour of playing absolutely abysmally and winning. The first 60 minutes were woeful, a footballing spectacle only marginally preferable to trying to trim your own toenails with a chainsaw. The last 30 minutes were better, thanks solely to the introduction of on-loan midfielder Paul-Jose M'poku. The Belgian U19 international reminded his forgetful Orient teammates that passing, dribbling, running and shooting are often useful weapons to deploy when trying to win a game of football.

Moment to savour... Hartlepool, it should be noted, were equally as dire as Orient, but did have one notable attempt at goal in the second half - a header which reserve goalkeeper Lee Butcher acrobatically turned over the bar, indicating he could prove to be a more than able back up to Jamie Jones.

Head in hands moment... Ben Chorley's lung-busting 70-yard run towards the end of the game, which took him from deep in the Orient half into Hartlepool's penalty area. Is he going to blast it into the net? Is he going to cleverly lay it off for Scott McGleish to score? Oh, he's passed it straight to the opposition and has to run all the way back again... Shame.

King for a day... Only one candidate really: Paul-Jose M'poku. Introduced with half an hour to go, he gave the Os some real impetus going forward, continually beating men and causing trouble around the edge of the box. Presumably he'd been watching the game very closely from the bench, because he opted to shoot from every free kick rather than pass to a fellow red shirt, no matter how far away from goal he was. Clever.

Boo boy... Dean Cox, who gave an outright JJ Melligan of a performance. In the first 15 minutes he bizarrely opted to deftly chip the ball back into this own penalty area into the path of an onrushing Hartlepool player, and it went downhill from there. Even his trademark squaring up to an opposition player seemed half-hearted this week.

In the dug out... Let's give Big Russ the benefit of the doubt and assume that, despite the loss of Stephen Dawson to injury, he left M'poku on the bench for match-fitness rather than tactical reasons. Still, there was a fair degree of heckling from the West Stand over his reluctance to make any substitutions until the final half an hour, and the manager's apparently unending in faith in his first-choice eleven despite Orient's league position is a bit dubious. And what's James Walker done to upset him? Pissed in his cap?

What would Martin Ling have done? Claimed in the post-match press conference that Paul-Jose Mpoku's performance was one of genius, then gone on to leave him on the bench for the next match in favour of JJ Melligan. "JJ's been really committed in training this week and he deserves his chance," he'd say, defiantly.

Going down? Well, we're out of the relegation zone, but it's going to take a lot more than a 1-0 win over a hopeless Hartlepool side to salvage something from this season. Still, keep the teenage Spurs loanees coming in and we might just stand a chance of staying up.
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