23 December 2010

Top 10 Brisbane Road moments of 2010

It's Christmas, the season to be jolly. So, in marked contrast to this blog's usual modus operandi (slagging off Ryan Jarvis and attempting to make cheap cracks at the expense of Jimmy Smith) I decided to pick out the ten highlights of the year at Brisbane Road.

So, after about 500 hours of meticulously scraping the bottom of a barrel I've actually recalled some. Here goes... and not a Loick Pires gag in sight. Well, maybe one.

10. Nicky Adams. He's actually quite good. Let's buy him. Oh, hang on...
Leyton Orient 2 Yeovil 0, 19 January 2010

Orient began 2010 in the relegation zone and without a win in five games. In a bid to turn things round, manager Geraint Williams had been driven to contemplating the 'nuclear option' - giving Loick Pires 90 minutes. Thankfully he didn't have to push the red button, instead bringing in Nicky Adams on loan from Leicester. And it was the little winger's inspired display that drove Orient to a 2-0 victory over Yeovil and led to a concerted campaign by fans to sign him in the summer. It didn't happen, and since then Adams has played against Orient about five times for eleven different clubs and has been unfailingly cack on each occasion. Good riddance!

9. A wet t-shirt competition, Orient-style
Leyton Orient 2 Rochdale 1, 30 October 2010

In lieu of any actual entertainment on the football pitch at the start of the 2010/11 season, Brisbane Road staff came up with a novel way of ensuring fans got their money's worth. And so, after some bright spark presumably herded up a bunch of random girls from Faces nightclub, Gants Hill, and stuck them in hot pants, we were treated to a pre-match routine by a dance troupe named The Leyton Orientettes or The East London Lovelies or something. Unfortunately for them the groundsman elected to switch on the under-pitch sprinkler system just as they began, turning the whole thing into the sort of sordid wet t-shirt debacle more suited to, well, Faces nightclub, Gants Hill. Sadly, the girls haven't been seen since.

8. Oh Sean, when you tried you were actually quite good
Leyton Orient 2 Walsall 0, 13 March 2010

Sean Thornton. When he wasn't sulking / unfit / dying his hair / injured / being played out of position by Martin Ling he was a class act, as he proved in this vital win back in March. Orient were without a victory in seven games and flirting with relegation like an inappropriate dad cracking on to his teenage daughter's friends. Enter Thornton, whose two goals ensured that Geraint Williams wasn't sacked for at least a few more games.

7. Hey, a talented player at Brisbane Road! 
Leyton Orient 1 Hartlepool 0, 16 October 2010

Occasionally Orient fans are fortunate enough to witness a truly talented player gracing the Brisbane Road turf. Invariably he's playing for the opposition. Although not on this Saturday afternoon when manager Russell Slade unleashed Spurs loanee and Belgian U19 international Paul-Jose M'poku on an unsuspecting Hartlepool with half an hour to go. He can dribble, he can pass, he can shoot, he can cross, he can hold the ball up... Let's buy him. What? He costs £25 million. Oh...

6. Size isn't everything
Leyton Orient 1 Huddersfield Town 2, 11 September 2010

Orient have a fine tradition of employing sub-5ft wingers who can presumably bamboozle a row of cones in training with their dribbling skills, but are somewhat less effective when faced with the clattering hulk of lower league defenders. Think JJ Melligan. Think Shane Tudor. Think John Martin. Happily Dean Cox doesn't fit into this mould (though, incidentally, he would fit into the mould of a gingerbread man) as he proved with a jaw-dropping half-volley hit on the run which must stand as the 2010 goal of the season at Brisbane Road.

5. Super sub salvages point!
Leyton Orient 2 Bournemouth 2, 20 November 2010

Sitting two spots above the relegation zone, 2-0 down at home to Bournemouth and being absolutely outplayed, things weren't looking so flash for Orient last month. But a game's never dead when the masterful enigma that is Jonathan Tehoue is on the bench, and lo and behold the perennially-unfit striker came on to score two goals and rescue a point for the Os. Magnificent. Who knows what would happen if Tehoue actually started a game? (Erm, I do. He'd be mostly ineffective, run out of steam after about 60 minutes, get substituted and then return to the bench for the subsequent match.)

4. Orient score five goals. In the same match!
Leyton Orient 5 Bristol Rovers 0, 2 February 2010

Every few years an unusual alignment of the planets coincides with a glitch in the Matrix and Orient actually turn a team over. And so it was on a Tuesday in February that the Os put five past a sorry Bristol Rovers. The odds against Ryan Jarvis scoring a goal, Jason Demetriou having a decent 90 minutes and James Scowcroft actually doing something, anything, on the football pitch all on the same evening are billions to one. And yet it came to pass in a glorious night at Brisbane Road.

3. Ryan Jarvis remembers how to shoot!
Leyton Orient 2 Wycombe Wanderers 0, 1 May 2010

The penultimate game of the season, and with the game locked at 0-0 with 12 minutes to go, and with results elsewhere going against them, Orient were staring down the barrel of relegation to League Two. However, if there's one man you can rely on, it's definitely not Ryan Jarvis. Nonetheless, the non-scoring striker guaranteed the Os would avoid a drop with a searing strike from the edge of the area.

2. And then the ref fell over...
Leyton Orient 8 Droylsden 2 (aet)

It's hard to pick out one single highlight of one of the most exhilharatingly mad nights at Brisbane Road for many years - maybe ever. But the first five minutes of extra time saw Orient's Paul-Jose M'poku single-handedly tearing Droylsden apart as if he was disdainfully ripping up ultra-thin tissue paper. He scored one to put the Os 3-2 up before being upended by a savage tackle that literally flipped him 360-degrees in the air. Lee Roche's consequent sending off caused a massive set-to between both benches, requiring steward and police intervention, before Droylsden's ridiculous imp of a manager Dave Pace was sent to the stands. Just as everything calmed down the referee fell over himself, as if there hadn't been quite enough drama.

Leyton Orient 2 Norwich City 1, 13 April 2010

A whopping 46 points separated league leaders Norwich from relegation-threatened Orient in Russell Slade's first home game in charge. And yet, in an absolutely barnstorming night of football the Os went into the final few minutes of the game 2-1 up and clinging on to what would prove to be three vital points. In the dying seconds of injury time Norwich were awarded a free-kick on the edge of Orient's area. By now Slade, who'd been conducting affairs from two metres inside the pitch for the last few minutes, was - like a coked-up grasshopper - wild and bug-eyed with with nervous energy. He turned to substitute Jason Demotriou and screamed, "SECOND BALL! GO AND TELL THEM SECOND BALL!" Demetriou dutifully sprinted up the touchline to pass on the instructions, Norwich smashed the ball into the wall, Orient indeed cleared up the second ball and the three points were secure. A fitting end to a magical night under the new gaffer.

08 December 2010

FA Cup Round 2 Replay: Leyton Orient 8 Droylsden 2, 7/12/10

A game which... was such a spectacle and so packed with incident that should an alien spacecraft ill-advisedly have chosen to land on top of the East Stand midway through extra-time, fans would have simply given it the most cursory of glances and muttered, 'Yeah, whatever, Tehoue's about to get his hatrick.' Ten goals, four sending offs... Where to even begin? Well, it should be noted that although 1-0 down at half-time and quite a few passes going astray, Orient weren't actually playing that badly, and but for the crossbar and two miraculous goal-line clearances, would have been 3-1 up.

In the second half, though hit on the break for Droylsden to go two-up, the Os were nothing if not committed and eventually got their just rewards with the two goals. Extra-time, meanwhile, was something akin to what would occur should a well-meaning, if misguided, PE teacher decide to round-up all the wheezing fat kids and make them play a practice game against the school first XI, just to show them that exercise can be fun. It isn't. I'm not saying that the Droylsden part-timers were unfit, but I'm sure I spotted a respirator in their physio's bag next to the 'magic sponge'.

Moment to savour... Should Simon Cowell ever launch a spin-off TV show entitled Odious Little Prick Factor, Droylsden's manager Dave Pace would surely give favourite Katie Waissel a run for her money. So it was a delight to see him escorted to the stands by a couple of coppers after squaring up to our very own Kevin Nugent, a man whose refusal to wear anything other than shorts in sub-Arctic temperatures proves he's not someone to be messed with.

Head in hands moment... Terrell Forbes ludicrously unnecessary challenge on Droylsden's Jody Banim that led to his first-half red card. Given that Banim seemed to be weighed down by a good 30 or 40 doughnuts, a couple of greasy fry-ups and a bag of lard, he took some knocking over too.

King for a day... A tough one. Charlie Daniels was in imperious form, driving into the box time after time and executing one mouth-watering slide tackle in front of the West Stand in the first half. Tehoue and McGleish, of course, got well-deserved hatricks and it was great to have Stephen Dawson back doing what he does best (running). But the award has to go to Paul-Jose M'poku who, during the second half and until his substitution in extra time, was - like a Joe McElderry CD - completely unplayable. 

Boo boy... Matthew Spring. But first, a disclaimer: The enormously-conked playmaker played pretty well in extra time, not least because the entire Droylsden midfield were cowering in their own penalty area whimpering, 'Please, God, no... Make it stop.' Before that, however, the Springster's inability to hit a pass to anyone other than an opposition player was somewhat worrying, given that passing is supposed to be his 'thing'.

In the dug out... Losing 1-0, down to 10 men and just about to come out for the second half. What would most managers do? Take off a striker, bolster the defence and hope you can nick a draw on the break, probably. Not Big Russ, he threw on another striker, played 3-3-3 and damn you all! Fair play to him.

What would Martin Ling have done? Claimed at the victorious press conference that, as an Orient man through and through, it was a proud day for him. Then the next day touted himself to Swindon because they have slightly bigger gates at the County Ground than they do at Brisbane Road.

Going to Wembley? Well, if Orient can beat Droylsden 8-2 then they are certainly a match for any Conference North side! Norwich might prove a bit trickier to overcome, though, but after tonight's memorable performance, there's no ruling out what might happen. We might even have a defence back by then, too.
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