22 April 2011

Leyton Orient 2 Peterborough United 1, 22/4/11

A game in which... the winner was scored by a player that hadn't so much come in from the cold, but had been cryogenically-frozen and locked in a box marked 'Open only in the unlikely event of loan request from misinformed Ryman Premier League club'. Yep, Ryan Jarvis, what a hero, rising majestically above the Peterborough defence to nod in a 97th minute goal almost as if he was a proper footballer.

It was just about what Orient deserved after a tenacious, if not totally fluid, performance. After a start as nervy as a best man at a wedding where he's been secretly shagging the bride, the Os improved throughout the game and edged the second half. Bring on the Carlisle!

Moment to savour... The moment when - shortly before his goal - Ryan Jarvis became so groggy after simply heading the ball that he was staggering around like Sean Thornton on St Patrick's Day and had to receive treatment from the physio. Presumably he was still so disorientated when the chance fell to him in the final minute that he broke the habit of a lifetime and inadvertently hit the target.

Head in hands moment... Unfortunately the moment that poor Gabriel Zakuani temporarily forgot he was no longer wearing an Orient shirt and stuck one in the net for the home side. Gaby, we got £1 million for you, you didn't owe us any more favours! It should be said, though, that aside from that the one-time O had a fine game and served a reminder of the class he brought to our promotion-winning side of 2005/06.

King for a day... Adam Barrett put in a commanding performance at the back, but the honour this week goes to Matthew Spring, the midfield playmaker with the child-scaring nose. It's taken the former Charlton man a couple of games to get back in his stride, but now he's executing his trademark passes back to Jamie Jones with assured expertise.

Boo boy... It's that man Jonathan Tehoue again, a striker who is so lacking in anticipation that he'll probably wake up next Friday and think, 'What the fuck's with all these street parties and bunting?'

In the dug out... Once again you have to hand it to Russell Slade. Most fans would rather have brought on a sack of mouldy potatoes than Ryan Jarvis in a bid to win the game, but the manager showed faith in a player who's spent most of the season handing out water bottles and trying to beat his keepy-uppie record of seven at half-time. In Slade we trust!

What would Martin Ling have done? Responded to Ryan Jarvis's winner by instantly giving him another two-year contract. "Next season is the one where I really expect Jarve to push on," he'd say, before sending the striker out on loan to Braintree Town three games into the campaign.

Play-offs? Why the hell not? On Monday Aaron Brown's coming back off loan to score the winner, while in next week's game the re-signed Adrien Patulea's going to score a hatrick. Initial talks are already underway to bring back Sam Parkin for the play-off final.

12 April 2011

Leyton Orient 0 Carlisle United 0, 12/4/11

A game in which... Orient subjected Carlisle to the sort of onslaught you'd expect to see if the entire might of the US military decided to wage war against a platoon of Lego soldiers. Unfortunately this took place only in the final five minutes of the game, when the Os had a number of gilt-edged chances to steal the three points. Before that each team had spells of dominance, though in truth it was Carlisle who looked more likely to win the game, only for an inspired Jamie Jones and the underside of the crossbar to stand in their way.

Moment to savour... Jamie Jones's first half save in which he managed to palm a deflected ball around the post despite travelling in the wrong direction. It was one of a number of classy stops by the Orient number one, whose Charlton nightmare is now well and truly consigned to a cut-price DVD entitled Hilarious Goalkeeping Blunders Volume 76, narrated by Bob Mills.

Head in hands moment... When, in the dying minutes, Paul-Jose M'Poku sent over a delightful cross at about knee-height, meaning that the onrushing Dean Cox had no choice but to head it, and somehow managed to spoon it over the bar from all of three yards.

King for a day... Presumably Elliot Omozusi must have got a heavy knock on the head at the start of the second half, causing his brain to be temporarily tricked into thinking it was inhabiting the body of an actual footballer. Time and time again the centre-back turned his man inside his own penalty box and then sent Orient on the attack with precision-guided passes to Charlie Daniels. What next for Omozusi - heading the ball anywhere other than directly up in the air?

Boo boy... No one in particular, but let's slap the wrists of Stephen Dawson for pointlessly getting himself booked in the first few minutes for backchat, rendering himself unable to tackle properly for the rest of the game. And Adam Chambers too, for a Rory McIlroy-sized choke in front of goal at the death. I'm not saying the chance was easy, but if it were a barmaid it would be giving punters a hand job out the back for a fiver a pop.

In the dug out... At last, Big Russ gives Paul-Jose M'Poku more than 12 minutes to work his magic! Unfortunately for the majority of his half an hour on the pitch the Belgian winger was playing out of position in the centre of attack. But never mind that, for at times this season Orient have played some football that is so divine it's almost impregnanted a couple of virgins in the South Stand. And for that we have Russell Slade to thank.

What would Martin Ling have done? Given a rousing, ball-busting pre-match speech to fire the team up for a final push for the play-offs. 'I quoted Churchill,' he'd say, proudly. 'I've always loved that little dog in the insurance adverts.'

Play-offs? Well, since five of the last six meetings between these sides at Brisbane Road ended in stalemate, this one had a draw written all over it right from the start. Points-wise we're not out of it, but with the luck not flowing, a tired squad and some key injuries, it seems there's now more chance Kate Middleton will rock up to her wedding on a Harley-Davidson than Orient will make the play-offs. Still, don't give up hope just yet...

09 April 2011

Leyton Orient 0 Southampton 2, 9/4/11

A game in which... Orient huffed and puffed but couldn't blow the house down. Southampton, remember, are one of the division's big bad wolves and have the sort of resources that could buy a whole team of Paul-Jose M'Pokus - or over 500 Ryan Jarvises. The Os put in a feisty and committed performance and had the better of the second half, but just couldn't get the ball in the net - at least not with linesman's flag down. Yes, Jimmy Smith has now had three goals disallowed in the space of the week. He's so out of luck that he'll probably go to Faces Nightclub, Gants Hill, tonight and inadvertently take home the only girl there who doesn't put out.

Moment to savour... Scott McGleish's acrobatic volley in the second half, in which he hooked a ball coming over his shoulder towards the goal while suspended in mid-air. The physics police have been alerted that there has been a possible infringement of the laws of gravity.

Head in hands moment... Southampton's first goal, in which Elliot Omozusi inexplicably ducked under an innocuous ball as it came in from the left to allow Ricky Lambert to score. It's anyone's guess as to what happened in the defender's brain, but I'd wager he had a momentary flashback to the days when school bullys would repeatedly fire elastic bands at his head in double maths.

King for a day... No one played a blinder so it's worth highlighting the continued good form of Charlie Daniels. When he arrived at the club his decision-making was so poor it was eligible for numerous government hand-outs. Not any more - the former Spurs man is reliable at the back and a constant threat going forward. He even uses his right foot these days too - though admittedly only for standing on.

Boo boy... Jonathan Tehoue. Admittedly when the French striker is in full flight his pace and strength make him a bit of a handful. Unfortunately today he displayed all the speed off the mark of an ageing oil tanker and was about as useful in the air as a vertigo-afflicted flight attendent.

In the dug out... While it might be all too predictable for fans to call for increased use of a flair player, it is somewhat bemusing how little faith Russell Slade seems to have in Paul-Jose M'Poku. Perhaps the manager needs him on the bench to babysit Tom Carroll, but surely he'd be more useful out on the pitch?

What would Martin Ling have done? Reacted to Jonathan Tehoue's awful performance by reading the player the riot act. "I told him that if things don't improve I'll definitely drop him in about eight games' time," he'd say at a defiant post-match press conference.

Play-offs? Thanks to Bournemouth's terrible form and Rochdale's loss to Colchester, Orient still have exactly the same chance of making the play-offs as they did before today's game. That is, none whatsoever. Just kidding. Keep believing...

05 April 2011

Leyton Orient 2 Plymouth Argyle 0, 5/4/11

A game which... was so painless for Orient that it was like being challenged to an arm-wrestle by Gillian McKeith. Plymouth, of course, are in all sorts of trouble and rock bottom of the league, which is exactly the reason they would have beaten the Os in every single season in League One prior to this one. But tonight saw Russell Slade's side prove, as they have done for most of this campaign, that they can effectively dispatch weaker opposition with the minimum of fuss. It wasn't necessarily the most fluid performance, but Jamie Jones was largely untroubled - except by his recurring nightmares of last Saturday, of course.

Moment to savour... Every time Jones dispatched the ball up the field instead of blindly rolling it out to his full backs. His mistake against Charlton was the death knell of Orient's policy of playing piggy in the middle in front of their own goalmouth, and tonight showed that kicking long from the goalkeeper when necessary and playing a neat passing game aren't necesarily mutually exclusive.

Head in hands moment... When, in the second half, Elliot Omozusi broke down the right hand side and decided to try to bamboozle the opposition with six consecutive stepovers. By the time he'd completed them he'd allowed enough time for the entire Plymouth team to jog to the touchline, grab a drink of water, take instruction from the manager, saunter up to the Orient player and casually take the ball away. Take that Lionel Messi!

King for a day... With his fourth goal in five games, the irrepressible Scott McGleish is having something of a late season burst. Which is handy since striker partner Alex Revell, for all his presence and hard work, has become more of a damp squib in front of goal for the last couple of months.

Boo boy... No one had a bad game, but Adam Chambers' return to the starting line-up was matched by a relatively anonymous performance. Are his best days behind him? Or is it that he was only rated so highly in the first place because he was playing alongside Paul Terry? A bit like heralding Prince Andrew as an intellectual genius simply because he's standing next to Peter Andre.

In the dug out... Plaudits to Russell Slade for a reshuffling of the pack - Whing especially excelled back in the side - and a return to winning ways. And while some decisions might befuddle a little - Tom Carroll back on the bench after a commanding first-half display against Charlton? - in the big man we trust.

What would Martin Ling have done? Defiantly claimed at the press conference that, despite gaining only one point in the previous four games, this victory was a validation of his methods. "This just goes to show that if you play exactly the same team with exactly the same tactics every week sooner or later you win a game."

Play-offs? With Bournemouth in freefall and the confidence that should come from a return to winning ways, Orient - like an ageing DJ still hawking his records out to Ibiza every summer - are still very much in the mix.

03 April 2011

Charlton Athletic 3 Leyton Orient 1, 3/4/11

A game in which… Orient were sunk by Jamie Jones who, by throwing the ball directly to Bradley Wright-Phillips, committed such a howler that no one would have blinked an eye had he spent the rest of the game on all fours barking at the moon. It was, perhaps, the final coup de grace of Orient’s tactic of playing out from the back - a strategy so easily countered by anyone with two brain cells that even Robbie Savage could figure it out if he asked the entire cast of The Only Way Is Essex to help him.

But let’s not dwell on all that, for Jones is the best goalkeeper Orient have had for years and the short passing game is what’s got the team to the dizzy heights of eighth in the division. Moreover, the first half of this game saw the Os put in a near-faultless performance. The play-offs are probably beyond the team now, granted, but let’s continue to bask in the warm glow of a great season.

Moment to savour… A first-half move that was so sumptuous you could have served it up at a royal banquet. Starting down the left, taking in a cheeky little back heel before play switched to the right, it allowed Elliot Omozusi to fire in a cross that Scott McGleish put just over the crossbar.

Head in hands moment… The point at which Orient fans suddenly realised that Jimmy Smith’s headed goal had been disallowed. For what? Perhaps Smith’s socks weren’t regulation elasticity?

King for a day… Tom Carroll - sporting a freshly-shaved head after an outbreak of nits at his primary school - was immense in the first half, controlling the midfield like an 11-year-old Cesc Fabregas.

Boo boy… Sadly it can only be Jamie Jones. And not just for the scouser’s moment of madness that led to Charlton’s second goal either. In the first half he was repeatedly guilty of some unsubtle and pointless time wasting, while in the second he elected to try and dribble round half the opposition outside his own penalty area.

In the dug out… With an ill-fitting white T-shirt slung artlessly over his training top, Kevin Nugent was working the French exchange student look to dazzling effect. Slade, meanwhile, still appears reluctant to give Paul-Jose M’Poku any more than eight minutes to try and rescue a game.

What would Martin Ling have done? Reacted to Jamie Jones’s error by dropping him for the next game in favour of Glenn Morris. “This time I really think Cat can prove he deserves a place in the starting line up,” he’d say, before relegating the keeper back to the bench again two weeks later.

Play-offs? Although mathematically we’re still in with a good shout, current form tells us that even Carol Vordermann would have trouble making the sums add up.
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