29 March 2011

The 10 reasons behind Orient's season to rememeber

Although the last couple of games have represented something of a setback, the fact that Orient are still in with a fighting chance of a play-off place going into April means this season has been the most successful since promotion in 2005/06. Here's why...

1. Physical presence
In football, size isn’t everything - otherwise Loick Pires would be playing for Barcelona. However, when 4ft 2in midfielder Dean Cox scored against Orient with a header - yes, a header - when playing for Brighton in 2007 it became clear that after a decade or so of fielding teams that could be out-muscled by the under-11s from the local comprehensive, it was probably time to add a bit of height and weight to the side. This season, then, we’ve got the likes of Chorley, Revell, Spring and Tehoue to compensate for Orient’s traditionally miniscule offering.

2. Tactical flexibility
Martin Ling, to be fair, had a couple of different formations up his sleeve. One was 4-4-2 with Sean Thornton played out of position, the other was 4-4-2 with Sean Thornton on the bench. Russell Slade, however, has switched from 4-4-2 to 5-4-1 to a midfield diamond as situations dictated, even mid-game. Losing to Droylsden in the FA Cup and down to 10 men, he threw caution to the wind and started the second half with three strikers - and then look what happened.

Paul Terry
3. A goal-scoring midfield
Orient has a proud recent history of non-scoring midfielders: Andy Harris, Billy Beall, David Hunt, Scott Canham… Paul Terry, meanwhile, had more chance of scoring at Faces Nightclub, Gants Hill, than he did of netting a goal - and with a face like that, that’s really saying something. This season, though, Cox, Smith, Dawson and Spring already have 22 between them, with many more likely to follow.

4. Loanees
The ability to play the loan market is a key requirement of lower league managers, and by and large Orient have been pretty hopeless at it. Bringing in Sam Parkin in 2008, for example, was like going to Sainsburys to buy a sirloin steak but coming back with a bag of mouldy Brussels sprouts. This season the loanees - in particular M’Poku, Whing, Kane and Carroll - have played a key part in the success of the side.

5. A bench
Part of Martin Ling must have died inside every time he turned round to his bench to see who he could bring on to change things, only to be faced with Derek Duncan, Loick Pires or Donny Barnard grinning at him inanely. It was worse for Geraint Williams - he only had James Scowcroft. These days, with the option of cameos from Tehoue, M’Poku, Kane and Chambers, we’ve never had it so good. Ryan Jarvis is on the bench too, mind, but someone needs to hand out the water bottles.

6. The goalkeeper
When it comes to the men between the sticks, Orient’s heritage is about as distinguished as Kerry Katona at a royal wedding. Historically it’s been a problem position - until this season, that is, when the young Jamie Jones has been a marvel on the goal line. We’ll struggle to hold on to him for too much longer, so enjoy it while it lasts.

7. A meritocracy
In previous regimes, some favoured players - let’s call them Adam Chambers, for the sake of argument - commanded a starting place in the side whether unfit, injured, out of form or missing a limb. As good a player as Chambers is, Slade’s decision to give an extended run to Jimmy Smith has paid dividends, and the manager's meritocratic approach to team selection as a whole has ensure that it’s always the 11 players in form taking to the pitch every week.

8. Tiny Cox
While it’s perhaps unfair to single out one player in a season of great team performances, an exception has to be made for the man who is indistinguishable from his own Subbuteo replica. With eight goals and 20 assists so far, Cox is the player Shane Tudor would like to have been, with a talent that JJ Melligan could only dream about in wild fantasies, probably also featuring unicorns and free Irish whiskey.

9. The big striker
Martin Ling used to spend most of the closed season threatening to bring in a ‘big striker’ while surreptitiously making bids for Julian Joachim, Luke Rogers and Verne Troyer. Russell Slade, meanwhile, brought in Alex Revell with the minimum of fuss, and the former Southend man’s presence - not to mention his goal scoring - has been vital to the team this season.

10. Kevin Nugent
While Russell Slade gets all the plaudits and his own South Stand chant, let’s not forget the contribution of Kevin Nugent. Not many other coaches in football could so artfully stand on the touchline with a hangdog expression for 70 minutes before spurring into action to inform the substitutes who they should be marking at corners. Kev is Orient through and through - apart from his many years at Plymouth, Bristol City, Cardiff and Swansea - and long may he continue. 

This feature originally appeared in the Leyton Orientear

26 March 2011

Leyton Orient 1 Yeovil Town 5, 26/3/11

A game which... was something akin to erecting a sign at a T-junction reading 'Turn left to see Megan Fox sunbathing naked.' That is, nothing went right. Even if Orient had turned up with their pockets bursting full of rabbits' feet, four-leaf clovers and horseshoes, the luck still wouldn't have gone their way.

Conceding a wonder goal on nine minutes off the inside of the post, having a player sent off six minutes later (I'm afraid I couldn't see it clearly enough to comment sensibly on it), giving away a penalty, losing Stephen Dawson to injury, falling foul of criminally inept refeering... The only thing that could have made the afternoon worse was if Olly Murs had turned up at the end and launched into a rendition of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

Moment to savour... The final whistle. Oh, and two delightful reflex saves from Jamie Jones in the second half, helping Orient to keep the goals conceded down to five.

Head in hands moment... Many Orient free-kick takers over the years have managed to repeatedly hit row Z of the North Stand with pinpoint accuracy. Today Dean Cox went one better, actually clearing the roof of the stadium with his first-half effort.

King for a day... Amid all the first-half shenanigans, it almost escaped notice that Jonathan Tehoue was actually putting in a decent shift in his second start in a row. Winning headers, tracking back, making a nuisance of himself and, unsually, keeping his first touch to within six yards of himself.

Boo boy... Stand-in left back Jason Crowe had such a shocker in the first half that screenwriters are already adapting his performance into a horror film. It's not his natural position, granted, but the on-loan man was torn apart time and time again down the right flank.

In the dug out... In Russ we trust, but there's been some bemusing team selections over the last couple of games. Dropping Andrew Whing, leaving Jimmy Smith on the bench, rotating between Tom Carroll and Adam Chambers in midfield... Still, at least Russ didn't react to the unfolding madness in front him by losing his head and bringing on Ryan Jarvis or something.

What would Martin Ling have done? Gone absolutely livid about the performance of referee Geoff Eltringham. "I totally lost the plot with him after the game, that's for sure," he'd say. "Well, when I say that I mean I didn't shake his hand very enthusiastically. But I reckon he got the message."

Play-offs? Don't despair. If we win our games in hand we're still only two points off both Bournemouth and MK Dons. And with nine games to go we're still very much in it. Besides, Orient have a nice history of bouncing back from big defeats, just like we did in January.

22 March 2011

Leyton Orient 1 Dagenham & Redbridge 1, 22/3/11

A game which... proved that Dagenham & Redbridge aren't simply Orient's bogey team, but more a festering globule of congealed snot that's been stuck up the nose of football since 1992. No offence or anything. But, credit where credit's due, the Daggers did a number on the Os with a textbook away performance: shutting down, pressing, niggling and repeatedly pretending to have head injuries.

The truth is, since Orient stopped being rubbish, opposition teams now actually have to employ tactics other than 'Turn up, we'll probably win' at Brisbane Road. Everyone seems to have clocked on to the fact the team like to play out from the back and refuse to let them do so. Tonight this led to the rather strange phenomenon of the home crowd imploring Jamie Jones to repeatedly boot the ball long. Which is a bit like asking Dame Helen Mirren to star in The Only Way Is Essex.

Moment to savour... Scott McGleish putting away his penalty to rescue a point for the Os. Ben Chorley has been a reliable spot kick merchant this season, but in his absence the veteran striker made no mistake. Apart from celebrating for too long when the team should have been pushing for the winner, that is.

Head in hands moment... A quite staggeringly slack passage of play in the second half in which the Orient defence gifted the ball to Dagenham & Redbridge players over and over again. It's all very generous to give to those less fortunate than yourselves, fellas, but Comic Relief was last week.

King for a day... What would the Orient team do without Dean Cox? Collectively enjoy an evening at Faces Nightclub, Gants Hill, without fear of being booted out for bringing a minor along with them, for starters. But never mind that, for tonight the knee-high winger was Orient's only real spark of creativity in a frustrating game, scampering all over the pitch in search of the ball like a pet gerbil given its first taste of freedom.

Boo boy... Dagenham & Redbridge's ludicrous preening fool of a goalkeeper Tony Roberts, who is so mannered and self-aware he appears to be labouring under the impression he is starring in his own 24-hour a day docu-soap, possibly entitled I'm A Fat, Average Goalkeeper, Get Me Out Of Here.

In the dug out... Has Russell Slade come down with a slight case of the Brisbane Road virus known as 'The Lings'? This debilitating disease renders Orient managers incapable of bringing on substitutes until 70 minutes into the game, no matter what is unfolding in front of them. Adam Chambers, bless him, was a touch ring-rusty and Orient 1-0 down, yet it still took 73 minutes for Big Russ to bring on M'Poku. (Ditto Brentford away). And while the young Belgian is something of a magician, even Paul Daniels might struggle to conjure up two goals in ten minutes every match.

What would Martin Ling have done? Spent the entire game scouting Bas Savage, claiming at the post-match press conference, "No names as yet, but I think I might have found my big striker for next season."

Play-offs? Keep the faith. Orient have always struggled to break down the division's scrappers and should fare better in some of the upcoming games. The play-off race is far from over...

20 March 2011

Brentford 2 Leyton Orient 1, 20/3/11

A game in which... Orient dominated possession with slick passing and incisive attacking, creating numerous chances as they did so. Unfortunately this was entirely confined to the second half of the game, by which time they were already 2-0 down. I'm not suggesting the team were asleep in the first half, but Jimmy Smith was wearing pyjamas, Adam Barrett was snoring and Elliot Omozusi was curled up in the foetal position sucking his thumb.

Still, we can hardly blame them - the team have been on a hell of a run. And, like Konnie Huq's career as a TV presenter, everything has to end sooner or later.

Moment to savour... A jaw-dropping Jamie Jones save deep into the second half that saw him palm a fierce ball over the crossbar despite the fact he was already travelling in the wrong direction in mid-air - presumably anticipating a Matthew Spring own goal attempt.

Head in hands moment... The ease with which Myles Weston turned Matthew Spring to set up Brentford's second goal. The Orient midfielder wasn't simply left for dead, but read his last rites, embalmed and cremated too.

King for a day... After a run of games in which he's struggled to make an impact, this was a return to form for Scott McGleish. He made so much of a nuisance of himself in the second half, Brentford must have felt like they were tasked with babysitting a Red Bull-guzzling toddler.

Boo boy... Gary Alexander, apparently. The former Os striker took a lot of stick from the away fans, not least for his unnecessary cupped ear celebration of his goal. Who do you think you are, Gary, Nicklas Bendtner? (Actually, don't answer that.)

In the dug out... Probably not much else Russ could have done today, save for reminding the team the game started at 3pm, not 4pm. And what's the deal with dropping Terrell Forbes for Elliot Omozusi in the centre of defence?

What would Martin Ling have done? Sung the praises of Brentford's number 29. "Their striker really impressed me," he'd say. "Reminded me of a slightly older Gary Alexander. What? Oh, it was Gary Alexander."

Play-offs? Opposition teams are now clocking on to our tactics (for example, stopping us from playing it out from the back every time Jamie Jones has the ball) but the play-offs remain in our own hands and there's two winnable home games coming up. As Cher once sang through a mouthful of Botox: "Do you believe?"

14 March 2011

The Top 10 Leyton Orient loanees

Over the years, loanees have played a valuable role for Leyton Orient - not least as a way of covering up the fact the contracted players aren't any good.

This season, however, we're in the happy position where our loanees - players such as Paul-Jose M'Poku, Tom Carroll, Harry Kane and, before he signed permanently, Andrew Whing - have augmented an already effective squad. So, in tribute to these and other loaness before them, I've compiled a top ten of borrowed talent.

But first a disclaimer. I've only included players who only ever appeared for Orient on loan, rather than those who then went on to sign permanent contracts. Otherwise I could have counted the likes of Steve Castle, Scott McGleish and Ryan Jarvis. Not that Jarvis would have got anywhere near the list, of course.

The list is based on the loanees' impact while at Orient, rather than their overall talent. (So no Gary Hooper, who only played two full games for us.) Also, I haven't really done any proper research or anything, so it's mostly skewed towards the last few seasons and I've probably forgotten someone. Nonetheless, here goes...

10. Jordan Spence (West Ham)
21 games from November 2008 to May 2009

The hole he was filling... The huge crater-sized one next to Tamika Mkandawire in central defence that would otherwise have been filled by Luke Ashworth or a limp lettuce - same difference.
Key contribution... Alongside Mkandawire, the young West Ham loanee provided a touch of class in defence as part of new manager Geraint Williams' rearguard action that saw Orient win nine in 14 games from February 2009, staving off relegation for another year.
Where is he now? After one single appearance for West Ham and another loan spell at Scunthorpe, Spence is now on loan at Bristol City.

9. Luke Summerfield (Plymouth Argyle)
15 games from September to December 2009

The hole he was filling... The one created in midfield previously filled by Jason Demetriou's ego, which had inflated to such gargantuan proportions after one scout from Charlton came to watch him one time, it was about to declare itself an independent state.
Key contribution... Coolly marshalling the midfield, providing the odd bit of creativity and helping Orient turn around an eight-game winless run and pick up a few valuable points in the run-up to Christmas.
Where is he now? Back at Plymouth and facing imminent relegation to League Two.

8. Dean Morgan (Luton Town)
34 games from August 2008 to May 2009

The hole he was filling... Morgan was the left-footed winger that Martin Ling pledged to bring in before the start of the 2008/09 season. Never mind that he was actually right-footed, for the tattooed Luton man could strike a ball better than the rest of the team with either boot. Morgan divided opinion among fans - some hated him, while others despised him. Talented though.
Key contribution... Falling on the floor, crying, pouting, sulking, bottling out of tackles and feigning injury. Oh, and almost single-handedly beating second-placed MK Dons away from home in January.
Where is he now? After short spells at Grays Athletic, MK Dons and Aldershot, Morgan's now helping Chesterfield with their League Two promotion push.

7. Jamal Campbell-Ryce (Charlton Athletic)
19 games from August to November 2002

The hole he was filling... The lack of anyone in midfield or attack with any spark of creativity. Or pace. Or ability. Campbell-Ryce had to compensate for the talent graveyard that was Paul Brush's squad in his only full season in charge of the Os. Carl Hutchings, Lee Thorpe, Scott Canham, Matt Brazier, Ciaran Toner... Read 'em and weep.
Key contribution... Tearing apart the QPR defence - Clark Carlisle in particular - in a satisfying 3-2 League Cup victory for the Os, in which Campbell-Ryce also scored the opening goal.
Where is he now? Playing for Bristol City in the Championship, after spells at Rotherham, Southend and Barnsley.

6. Andros Townsend (Tottenham Hotspur)
26 games from August to December 2009

The hole he was filling... The one created by leaving JJ Melligan on the bench. To be fair, there wasn't that much difference between Melligan and Townsend, save for the fact that the Spurs loanee could actually pass a ball, trap it, dribble, run at pace, put in decent crosses and shoot. The two players were similar in that they were both human beings though.
Key contribution... Scoring this wonder goal against Yeovil in August 2009, in which he ran a full 70 yards past half the opposition team before placing the ball in the net from the edge of the penalty area.
Where is he now? On loan at Millwall, after spells at MK Dons, Ipswich and Watford.

5. Simon Church (Reading)
13 games from February to May 2009

The hole he was filling... The one vacated by Adam Boyd who, presumably sick of his teammates lumping the ball towards his head, rather than to his feet where he was occasionally effective, had given up for the season as he waited for his move back to Hartlepool.
Key contribution... Hitting the winners against Carlisle and Stockport in March, part of a late season run of form that saw Geraint Williams' team escape relegation by the skin of their teeth.
Where is he now? Back at Reading - although not having the best season in front of goal - and with 11 full international caps for Wales to his name.

4. Nicky Adams (Leicester City)
6 games from January to February 2010

The hole he was filling... The one left by departing loanee Andros Townsend that should have been filled by JJ Melligan, if only the Irish midfielder wasn't as out of his depth in League One as a stowaway on a submarine.
Key contribution... Repeatedly beating his man and getting the ball into the box, helping Orient to amass 15 points in the six matches he played. Had a particularly effective game at Charlton, which the Os won 1-0.
Where is he now? Orient fans clamoured for his signing in the summer of 2010 but were probably relieved he went to Brentford and then Rochdale, for each time he's played at Brisbane Road since his departure he's been about useful as Russell Slade's tub of Brylcreem.

3. Paul-Jose M'Poku (Tottenham Hotspur)
26 games from September 2010 to current

The hole he was filling... Not so much a hole, rather the lack of someone with such dribbling ability he can make defenders curl up into a little ball and scream, 'No, please, make it stop.' 
Key contribution... Tearing Droylsden apart in the FA Cup 2nd round replay as if he were a rottweiler at an origami convention. Plus a breathtaking winning goal against Oldham at Brisbane Road and a general ability to come off the bench and give the team a bit of Belgian magic.
Where is he now? Happily Paul-Jose is with Orient until the end of the season.

2. Richard Garcia (West Ham United)
21 games from August to November 2000

The hole he was filling... The one alongside Carl Griffiths that would otherwise have been filled by Steve Watts rocking up to the game fresh from a night on the tiles with Jordan.
Key contribution... The Australian formed an effective partnership with Griff that helped Orient to 33 points from their first 18 games of the 2000/01 season. By the time Garcia crocked his knee against Cheltenham in November he'd helped to provide the foundation upon which Orient built their successful push for the play-offs.
Where is he now? Playing for Hull City in the Championship after a couple of seasons in the Premier League. Garcia also has 14 international caps to his name.

1. Kevin Campbell (Arsenal)
16 games from January to April 1989

The hole he was filling... The one left by Ian Juryeff, who'd been taken on trial by Ipswich Town in February 1989, as Orient continued their New Year push for the Division Four play-off places.
Key contribution... Goals. Lots of goals. The young Arsenal striker - who turned 19 years old as he joined Orient - hit nine in his 16 games for the club, helping Orient to drag themselves out of the depths of Division Four into the glitz and glamour of Division Three, where enticing fixtures such as Rotherham, Chester City and Mansfield awaited.
Where is he now? Campbell retired from football in 2007 after many seasons climbing all over defenders in the top flight. He now co-owns a security company specialising in protection for wealthy clients.

12 March 2011

Leyton Orient 1 Oldham Athletic 0, 12/3/11

A game which... for Oldham manager Paul Dickov must have felt like spending the whole evening chatting up Cheryl Cole, only to end up having to go home with Nicola Roberts. His team, you see, came with a gameplan: pressing hard, stopping Orient from playing out from the back and wrestling players to the ground at every opportunity. It nearly worked too, for while the Os didn't lack in endeavour they found it hard to achieve the fluency of recent matches and it looked like the game was heading for a goalless draw. Until, that is, Paul-Jose M'Poku swaggered onto the pitch with his loping cowboy gait, unholstered his right foot and fired a long-range shot into the corner of the net that left Oldham stone dead.

Moment to savour... A Barcelona-esque display of Orient possession around the 20-minute mark, in which the team must have strung together over 30 passes. Admittedly all of these were in the Os' own half, but with the Brisbane Road pitch in the shape it's in at the moment, even the Spanish champions would find it hard to move the ball around without it disappearing down a three foot-deep rut.

Head in hands moment... When, in the second half, Matthew Spring drove the ball so hard and low that it hit Dean Cox full in the stomach. Presumably the miniature winger was so surprised that Spring was passing it forwards rather than back to Jamie Jones that he didn't have time to get out of the way.

King for a day... M'Poku will rightly be hailed the hero, but it was Andrew Whing's gutsy performance that caught the eye over the full 90 minutes. Like a Stephen Purches who can actually tackle, pass, intercept, control the ball, read the game and drive forward, the former Brighton man is the right-back we've needed for years.

Boo boy... No one in an Orient shirt (although, whisper it, Alex Revell has become increasingly less effective in recent games and needs a goal). Referee RL Lewis, meanwhile, was the sort of jumped up little pedant who runs 40 yards to ensure a free kick isn't taken two inches out of position, yet bottles out of numerous decisions and nearly allowed Oldham to niggle their way to draw.

In the dugout... More astute managing from Russell Slade, keeping faith with in-form Harry Kane and Tom Carroll, despite having McGleish, Smith and Chambers on the bench. Paul Dickov, meanwhile, spent virtually the entire game berating the fourth official, presumably unaware that the chokeslams, flying neckbreakers, piledrivers and axe handle elbow drops are still outlawed in the game of football.

What would Martin Ling have done? Responded to Paul Dickov's constant yammering by remaining silently impassive on the touchline. "I was going to say something," he'd claim defiantly in the post-match press conference, "but I forgot."

Play-offs? Four wins in four and only one league loss since the beginning of November. And while I'm aware that - like Charlie Sheen's sanity - all good things must come to an end, Orient do seem to have the momentum to make the play-offs. Must be their tiger blood.

05 March 2011

Leyton Orient 2 Notts County 0, 5/3/11

A game which... was so entertaining that even if you repackaged it as an early evening show on Channel Five presented by Amanda Holden and Reggie Yates it would still be worth watching. In the first half Orient totally overran Notts County with a wonderful display of attacking verve. That they only had one goal to show for it was a shame - and pre-Russell Slade Orient would definitely have gone on to lose the game 2-1 - but this is a whole new world we're in now. A good world. A bit like Pandora in the film Avatar, but without all the smurfs and tree-bothering.

Moment to savour... When Notts County manager Paul Ince tasted his half-time cup of Brisbane Road tea he was so incensed by the poor quality - and who can blame him? - that he elected to throw it over Orient goalkeeping coach Kevin Dearden. Ince, remember, is a ludicrous parody of himself - a self-proclaimed 'Guv'nor' who was so lacking in bottle that he refused to take a penalty at Euro 96 and sat with his back to the goal while Gareth Southgate fluffed his effort. He's done some pretty stupid things in his time, but shouting 'I'll see you outside' to Dearden as he was ejected to the stands must rank right up there. Dearden, remember, isn't afraid of a challenge. He had to try to teach Glenn Morris to kick properly - and it doesn't get any tougher than that.

Head in hands moment... There are only three certainties in life: death, taxes and the fact that Charlie Daniels will never, ever attempt to kick a ball with his right foot. Nonetheless every single person in the entire stadium could have predicted that Stuart Nelson - the former Orient keeper who was baited by the crowd throughout the match - was going to save Alex Revell's penalty.

King for a day... Another fantastic all-round team performance, with special mentions to Tom Carroll, Dean Cox and Terrell Forbes. But let's take this moment to eulogise Matthew Spring. One shouldn't understimate how important it is to have someone in the team who can execute a lazy pirouette then repeatedly pass the ball back to the goalkeeper. (Indeed, Spring almost scored a stunning own goal with this very move in the first half.) But the former Charlton man isn't in the team to simply give Jamie Jones kicking practice - his calm assurance on the ball, his incisive passing and his enormous nose make him stand out from the crowd, and his skills complement those of Stephen Dawson perfectly.

Boo boy... Once again it's impossible to choose someone who had a bad game for the Os, so instead let's make a cheap gag about Stuart Nelson. Although the goalkeeper's performance wasn't terrible, his own defence seemed intent on forcing a mistake out of him by continually lobbing bobbling balls back in his direction. And nothing makes him madder than that - apart from his own mind, of course.

In the dug out... Russell's got it spot on again, resting Scott McGleish; bringing in the impressive-looking Harry Kane; sticking with 11-year-old Tom Carroll in midfield and resisting the temptation to pile in on Paul Ince after the tea-throwing incident. Not that Ince would have come out the right side of that little tete-a-tete.

What would Martin Ling have done? Responded to the fracas in the dug-out by asking his 'big striker' to wade in, only to realise that the only 'big striker' he'd managed to sign was 5ft 6in Wayner Purser, who promptly gets splattered by the Notts County training staff.

Play-offs? Eight points off the play-offs with four games in hand and the team in formidable form. It's possible. And the good times - like George Michael with a massive bag of weed in front of him - are just continuing to roll and roll.

03 March 2011

FA Cup 5th round replay: Arsenal 5 Orient 0, 3/3/11

The build up
Can lightning strike twice in the same place? Well, something must explain what happened to Mick Hucknall's face. But Orient were hoping that they could repeat their miracle of a week and a half ago and pull off another result against Arsenal. For the Gunners' part, they were out to prove they were still a force to be reckoned with after a disappointing run of results. Mind you, beating a League One side at home would be about as convincing as a Tom Cruise wedding.

The first half 
Orient lined up with a patched-up midfield boasting a combined weight equivalent to about 11 bags of sugar, and the total height of a medium-sized bungalow. Nonetheless our heroes begun the game more confidently than in the home tie and set out to play neat passing football. Unfortunately for Orient, after years of embarrassing himself in front of top flight defences, Nicklas Bendtner finally found his footballing level and helped Arsenal to a 3-0 lead.

The second half
More valiance from the Os and a neat little spell of pressure in the first 10 minutes of the second half, and again towards the end. But by the time super sub Jonathan Tehoue came on Orient were 4-0 down. And although the big Frenchman regularly passes the time in between migraines and training by turning water into wine, curing lepers and parting the Red Sea, even he couldn't work a miracle of this magnitude.

Who played well?
Stephen Dawson. It's as if medical science has created a strange hybrid creature consisting of parts of Craig Easton, Adam Chambers and Sean Thornton which manages to run all round the pitch, tackle and play classy through balls despite suffering from a furious hangover and being friends with JJ Melligan. More plaudits again go to Charlie Daniels, who provided Orient with their best chances. Plus, an honorable mention for Tom Carroll, whose appearance was part of his coursework for his physical education GCSE - and he looks bang on to achieve at least a grade B.

Where do we go from here?
In fact, a 5-0 defeat is the perfect result for Orient, for these reasons. Play-offs a definite possibilty - and there's already a good portent for Saturday's game against Notts County. They've got Stuart Nelson in goal.
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