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.
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