01 January 2011

Why five-goal defeats are good for Orient. Really...

(September 2012 update: I actually wrote this just after we'd been turned over 5-0 by Brighton on New Year's Day 2011. Orient then went on a record-breaking 17-game unbeaten run which, contrary to everything else on this blog, means I was actually correct. Five-goal defeats are good for Orient, so the loss at Goodison Park should be seen as a blessing in disguise. Right?)

Admittedly a 5-0 loss on 1 January isn't the best portent for the next year of football at Leyton Orient. But a look back over the last decade reveals that the Os have been turned over by a five-goal margin on four other occasions, and each time bounced back determinedly.

In other words, this could be a blessing in disguise. And while it's quite difficult to type while clutching a huge fistful of straws, I've amassed some evidence...

Leyton Orient 0 Swansea 5
6 October 2007

What happened? Incredible as it may sound now, Orient went into their 10th game of the 2007/08 season at the summit of League One. Fans were dreaming of promotion to the Championship and mouthwatering trips to the likes of Scunthorpe, Plymouth and Colchester. Unfortunately Swansea came to Brisbane Road and proved that Orient's early season form was just a Zepplin-sized blip, caused mostly by Martin Ling temporarily playing Sean Thornton in his correct position. Psychiatrist-bothering goalkeeper Stuart Nelson throwing four of the five goals into his own net probably didn't help.
But every cloud has a silver lining... In their next league game Orient bounced back with one of their most heroic performances of the decade, holding Leeds to a 1-1 draw at Elland Road despite having only 10 men for 60 minutes of the game and being on the wrong end of a litany of refereeing howlers.

Bournemouth 5 Leyton Orient 0
10 February 2007

What happened? In the 2006/07 season - with Orient back in the third tier - manager Martin Ling employed a quite visionary strategy known as, 'Just give the ball to Locky and hope for the best.' Unfortunately Bournemouth's Darren Anderton was familiar with such a ploy, having once played under the same system for England ('Give it to Gazza, hope for the best'). He scored a hatrick.
But every cloud has a silver lining... Although Orient lost their next league game 4-1 to Brighton, the combined shock of the two defeats spurred the team into a seven-match unbeaten run that allowed them to escape relegation by the skin of their teeth.

Doncaster Rovers 5 Leyton Orient 0
10 January 2004

What happened? Having been officially annointed as Orient manager in December 2004, Martin Ling was learning the ropes the hard way (ie trying to get results from a team containing Tom Newey, David Hunt and Billy Jones). Still, no one except every single Orient fan could have expected the team to go down so miserably to league leaders Doncaster.
But every cloud has a silver lining... A shell-shocked Orient went on to win their next two league games and the experience was part of the learning curve that led Martin Ling to take the team up two seasons later.

Carlisle United 6 Leyton Orient 1
12 January 2002

What happened? Back in the dark days of the early millennium, Orient's away form was like a unicorn. Non-existent. Still, the 100 or so dedicated masochists who made the long, mid-winter trip to Carlisle probably hoped that Orient wouldn't be 3-0 down in the first 18 minutes, or indeed 5-0 down at half-time. Still, if there was ever a manager to pull off a miraculous second-half recovery, it sure as hell wasn't Paul Brush...
But every cloud has a silver lining... Two weeks later Orient travelled to Goodison Park to play Everton in the fourth round of the FA Cup and put in a gutsy and convincing display against a Premier League team. They still lost 4-1, mind.
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