07 May 2011

The top ten Leyton Orient players of 2010/11

At the conclusion of most seasons at Leyton Orient it's difficult to think of one player who's excelled over the campaign. Not this time, which is why I've selected - in reverse order - the top ten players of 2010/11...

10. Andrew Whing
When it comes to decent right-backs, Leyton Orient's heritage is about as distinguished as Jodie Marsh's wardrobe. Enter Andrew Whing, dead ringer for EastEnders' Max Branning and owner of a chin so big it's got it's own postcode. Yes, rival right-back Elliot Omozusi may be slightly more comfortable on the ball - not least when he's plucking it out of the net after his customary once-a-game howler - but Whing provided the grit this season, regularly clattering into unsuspecting left-wingers and driving forward like a steroid-pumped gingerbread man.
More on Andrew Whing >

9. Paul-Jose M'Poku
Every now and again at Brisbane Road a player comes along with such dazzling skills that resident managers are left with no choice but to inexplicably leave them on the bench every game. Such was the plight of under-19 Belgian international and Spurs loanee Paul-Jose M'Poku. Hartlepool United's defenders are still in therapy trying to come to terms with the outright humiliation they were subjected to on the young winger's home debut, and M'Poku continued to provide flashes of inspiration in the 15 minutes he was allowed on the pitch each match. Essentially, stuff happened when M'Poku played. Just think what may have been if he'd been in the starting line-up...
More on Paul-Jose M'Poku >

8. Stephen Dawson
Every team needs an engine and this season Orient's was Stephen Dawson. The diminutive Irishman was the master of tirelessly motoring around the pitch, stopping only to pick up needless yellow cards and to throw himself to the ground in the penalty area as if scythed down by a poltergeist. Dawson excelled in the home leg against Arsenal, where the Premier League side subjected him to a particularly cruel 90 minutes of piggy-in-the-middle - though they rarely broke through his expertly-marshalled ranks.
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7. Ben Chorley
Every lower league club needs a Ben Chorley, an uncompromising central defender who pulls his shorts up to somewhere beneath his chest and who's not afraid to stick his face into the path of a flying boot. But our Ben Chorley is so much more than a jumped-up hard man, with his positional sense and reading of the game ensuring Orient are rarely caught out at the back. Once per match he embarks on a lung-busting run upfield, where he is invariably dispossessed just outside the opposition box and has to run all the way back again. This season Chorley also turned out to be Orient's most reliable penalty taker since Matt Lockwood.
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6. Scott McGleish
You might think that after 20 years of chasing hopeful punts upfield for the likes of Barnet, Northampton and Cambridge United, Scott McGleish's legs might have had a quiet word in his ear and suggested that perhaps he might like to open a pub or something. Not so, for this season the veteran striker continued to cause nuisance to opposition defences like a late thirtysomething who keeps turning up at student parties and insisting on playing REM on the stereo. A true pro, McGleish's 17 goals were just reward for a fine season's work.
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5. Alex Revell
Alex Revell is the mythical big striker Martin Ling used to have wild, salivating dreams about. With a chiselled jaw and ice-white teeth he could land a bit part in a daytime American soap if the football thing doesn't work out, although there's no chance of that in the near future because Revell was a revelation this season. Sixteen goals isn't to be sneered at, but over and above that his unsettling presence, commitment and unselfish attitude was a major factor in Orient's success.
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4. Jimmy Smith

What happened to Jimmy Smith this season? Once a player so bland you could have covered him in Tabasco sauce and he'd still have had absolutely no bite, he somehow transformed himself into a midfield goal-machine and one of the driving forces behind Orient's push up the table. Post-Christmas, whenever Orient created a chance it seemed to fall to Smith, and the former Chelsea man rarely missed them.
More on Jimmy Smith >

3. Charlie Daniels
When Charlie Daniels first arrived at Orient on loan in the 2007/08 season he showed a fair degree of promise, and if it wasn't for the fact he could neither defend or attack he could have been quite some player. Well, now Daniels is that player: reliable in defence and a real threat thundering down the left wing, with 15 assists over the season to prove it. This campaign Daniels added the ability to cut inside to his repertoire, a tactic that would have been highly damaging to oppositions if it wasn't for the fact his right foot is about as useful as an inflatable dartboard.
More on Charlie Daniels >

2. Jamie Jones
It's been a real pleasure this season to have a goalkeeper who is actually able to kick the ball properly, who doesn't flap at crosses, who isn't susceptible to low shots to his right, who commands his area and who doesn't throw the ball out directly to opposition strikers in key games... Oh, ok, strike the last point, but Jones' skill between the sticks has been one of the major reasons behind Orient's success this campaign, routinely digging the defence out of six-foot deep holes with his lightening reactions and breathtaking agility.
More on Jamie Jones >

1. Dean Cox
My player of the season for 2010/11, one who boasts the ability to square up to any hulking lower league hard man and fearlessly look him straight in the knee. Yep, Tiny packs a whole lot of attitude into the body of a medium-sized schoolgirl and adds a touch of genuine class to the Orient team as well as being the creative inspiration for much of their attacking play. Indeed, his delivery is so good the scouts watching him this season were from Royal Mail, DHL and the maternity unit at Homerton Hospital. You can't argue with 12 goals and 22 assists over the course of a season - although Cox himself would probably try, straight after he'd started a fight in an empty room.
More on Dean Cox >

01 May 2011

Leyton Orient 0 Tranmere Rovers 3, 1/5/11

A game which... for Orient was much like strutting up to the Royal Wedding reception thinking you've got an outside chance of pulling Pippa Middleton, only to end the night staring desolately into your pint glass while Princess Eugenie yabbers inanely in your ear. Yes, the play-off dream is over and in truth, Orient looked jaded, allowing Tranmere - playing the match free of any implications - to boss the show. But let this not detract from what has been a season to savour, one that'll live long in the memories of fans.

Moment to savour... It's the delighful Cheery Os dance troupe, whose routine was once again transformed into a racy wet T-shirt performance by the mischievous groundsman who gave them a good soaking via the underground sprinkler system. Just think, if Prince William had spent more time in Faces Nightclub, Gants Hill, he could have been taking one of these hotties up the aisle rather than the prim Kate Middleton. Your loss, Wills.

Head in hands moment... When mini-firecracker Dean Cox called the assistant referee a 'super-c**t', evoking images of a comic book villain that dresses mainly in black and tries to bring down the world by incorrectly calling throw-in decisions and flagging Jonathan Tehoue offside.

King for 20 minutes... For the majority of the game, Orient's attacks were about as incisive as a Fearne Cotton interview. But when Paul-Jose M'Poku ambled onto the pitch with his loping cowboy gait, suddenly - as so often has happened this season - the home side were invigorated. The young Belgian helped create chance after chance and his skills will be sorely missed once he returns to Spurs.

Boo boy... Everyone in an Orient shirt played their hearts out - even Jonathan Tehoue could be seen running all over the pitch as if his contract depended on it - so this is no time for criticism. In fact, I salute each and every player for the effort they've put in this season. Except Aaron Brown, of course.

In the dug out... Russell Slade began proceedings with a little joke. No, not giving Ryan Jarvis a place in the starting line up, but appearing in a wig. It's been a real pleasure to have a manager as passionate, astute and committed as Slade this season, so let's hope it's not a case of hair today, gone tomorrow.

What would Martin Ling have done? Gone for broke in a do-or-die fixture by playing a midfield four of Adam Chambers, Paul Terry, Donny Barnard and a 6ft garden fence. "People say I'm too cautious, but my middle name is danger," he'd say defiantly. "Well, actually it's Nathan, but you get my point."

Next season? Can Orient go one better in 2011/12 and actually make the play-offs? Well, it won't be easy, but if the lowly daughter of a flight attendent can one day become Queen simply by parading up and down in her underwear a bit then there is always hope. Either way, it's sure to be a thrilling ride.
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