20 February 2011

FA Cup: Leyton Orient 1 Arsenal 1, 20/2/11

The build-up
As befits one of the biggest games at Brisbane Road for many years, the club did everything in its power to try and hype up the atmosphere before kick off. Essentially this involved letting off about 50 balloons and getting a few girls from Faces Nightclub, Gants Hill, to stand around in their pants. But no matter - today the entertainment was going to be provided by the football. Or more likely, by Arsenal.

The first half
Orient, it has to be said, began the game as nervously as a thirtysomething buying a Justin Bieber CD. Still, you can hardly blame them for the odd misplaced pass under the circumstances. And while losing the ball to an Arsenal player is like asking Richard Madeley to keep an eye on your shopping - that is, you ain't going to see it again for a while - the defence held heroically firm. This was helped in no small part by the fact that Nicolas Bendtner has apparently been taking shooting lessons off of Adrien Patulea.

The second half
Better from the Os - they were more composed and created a number of chances, especially in a neat little spell of pressure after the Arsenal goal. The stats might say that the Gunners completed almost 4 billion passes to Orient's 17, but simply knocking a ball from player to player isn't a measure of success - otherwise Ryan Jarvis's half-time kickabouts would be the stuff of legend. Anyway, Arsenal of course had chances, but there were relatively few heart in mouth moments. Then this happened...

The moment when the roof came off
There have been some great moments at Brisbane Road over the years - I won't list them all as I don't have a spare 15 seconds - but Jonathan Tehoue's masterful late goal is one that's set to live long in the memories of Os fans. Not so much a super sub, more a highly advanced thermo-nuclear watercraft.

Who played well?
Ok, we just drew with Arsenal. Everyone in an Os shirt is a hero. Special mentions should go to Stephen Dawson, whose performance was so industrious it could have provided the power for a small village in Essex. Jamie Jones was commanding; Charlie Daniels indefatigable; Jimmy Smith energetic and Ben Chorley immense. Andrey Arshavin, meanwhile, was presumably so put off his game by the incredible likeness of Andrew Whing to Max from EastEnders that he fluffed Arsenal's big chance to go 2-0 up towards the end of the game.

Moment to savour
Dean Cox marking Nicolas Bendtner at a throw-in. Bendtner had him in his pocket. Literally.

Going to Wembley?
Of course not, but this season has been a real joy for Os fans and only a fool - Robbie Savage, for example - would bet against the team making a late bid for the play-offs. Hats off to you, fellas.
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