31 August 2011

Carling Cup: Leyton Orient 3 Bristol Rovers 2, 30/8/11

A game in which... Orient would have sold their own grandmothers in exchange for a win, so don't be surprised if you see 11 elderly ladies with price tags round their necks in the window of the Leyton High Road pawn shop tomorrow morning. When Stephen Dawson scored in added time the players celebrated with such unbridled passion, excitement and relief it was almost as if they'd just been told that Jedward were emigrating to New Zealand forever. And though if you look at the fine detail of the performance you'd discover that, well, there wasn't much fine detail, the important thing is that Orient finally have a platform upon which to start building a season.

Moment of class... Jonathan Tehoue's little bit of touchline trickery - reminiscent of his sneaky shuffle past the Arsenal defence in last season's FA Cup tie - that led to the winning goal. The Beast is so adept at getting Orient out of tight spots he could easily find alternative employment as a can of WD-40.

Moment of madness... Less a moment of madness, more the entire second half. Yes, Orient seemed to be under the impression they were taking part in a Scott McGleish testimonial, such was their willingness to present Bristol Rovers with scoring opportunities.

Knight in shining armour... Stephen Dawson put in a typically energetic midfield performance and should be applauded for electing to shoot in the penalty area to score the winning goal, rather than opting for his usual ruse of poleaxing himself to the ground as if felled by an invisible lumberjack.

Pantomime horse... Leon McSweeney, whose performance in midfield showed all the composure of a teenage boy trying to negotiate the wine list at Pizza Express. The ex-Hartlepool man repeatedly gave the ball directly to the opposition before being moved to right-back, whereupon he was replaced by Elliot Omozusi - the ultimate indignity.

In the dug out... Fair play to Russ, he's trying to address the problems and started tonight's game with a new formation, the midfield diamond. Nice idea, but unfortunately Orient's version rather more resembled a midfield lump of coal.

A word on the opposition... No goal for Scott McGleish, despite Orient's best efforts to gift him one, though the veteran striker did combine well with the impressive Chris Zebroski for Bristol Rovers' first. Still, the Pirates can consider themselves unlucky to come away with nothing after a sprightly second half.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Big news on Twitter this week: Jimmy Smith threatened to leave, but pulled back from the brink and is still relaying essential information such as when he's having a bath, what time he's going to bed and the like. His continued presence will be, of course, a huge relief to Barcelona and Spain star Andres Iniesta, who has become totally reliant on Jimmy's advice such as this: "iniesta relax next time when ya 1on 1 with keeper".

Lesson for the day... At last Orient have found a way to win! Admittedly this only seems to work against League Two teams, but don't despair - at least we'll be in with a fighting chance next season.

20 August 2011

Brentford 5 Leyton Orient 0, 20/8/11

A game which... demonstrated that even when they've hit rock bottom, Orient have an incredible capacity to find even deeper levels of abomination. Where to even begin? The defence: sliced open so many times it was as if they were auditioning for bit parts in a remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. The midfield: so anonymous they could almost have secured a spot on Celebrity Big Brother. The attack: all the penetration of a eunuch-porn flick. Need I go on?

Moment of class... Dean Cox's ambitious first-half lob from the edge of the penalty area that beat Brentford keeper Richard Lee but bounced back off the crossbar. Just think what would have happened if that had gone in. Yes, that's right, we would have lost 5-1.

Moment of madness... Lee Butcher's second-half decision to place Dean Cox in his defensive wall for a free-kick, the equivalent of a bricklayer thinking to himself, 'Fuck this cement shit, I'm going to use ice cream instead.' Naturally Brentford's Sam Saunders simply booted the ball knee-high over Tiny's head and straight into the net.

Knight in shining armour... Selecting an Orient man of the match from today's game is like trying to choose which of Katie Price's novels should win the Pulitzer Prize. But, while I should point out that Dean Cox isn't in the best form himself, he's still standing head and shoulders above the rest of the team. Not literally, obviously.

Pantomime horse... No shortage of candidates for this one, but let's focus on Lee Butcher, whose inexperience is somewhat reminiscent of a 16-year-old virgin clumsily trying to have sex with the babysitter. In a couple of years he'll know what to do, but for the moment he's got no authority around the box.

In the dug out... 'I was disappointed,' said Russell Slade after the game, which in understatement terms is a bit like greeting the news that a huge asteroid is about to destroy our entire planet with the words, 'Oh, that's annoying.' To be fair to the manager, after three straight defeats he did at least try to rearrange the deckchairs on the Titanic a bit, but clearly there's a deep malaise in the team and it's something he's going to have to sort out pretty sharpish if he doesn't want the club to sink into relegation.

A word on the visitors... Full marks to Brentford, who managed to steal candy from a baby, shoot fish in a barrel and take acorns from a blind pig all in the space of 90 minutes. The Bees could well have easier matches this season, but only if they decide to play a charity game against the under-11 side from the local girls school.

Meanwhile, on Twitter... Something of a chicken-and-egg spat yesterday when one-time Brisbane Road misser of point-blank scoring opportunities Gary Alexander - @gazalex29 - tried to defend his decision to cup his ears at Orient fans after netting for Brentford last season. 'i was being abused then scored thats when i put my hand to my ear' he claimed, adding, 'i got a letter from a fan saying he was disgusted about the abouse'. Too right, 'abouse' does sound disgusting Gary. Whatever it is.

Lesson for the day: Don't despair simply because Orient are almost certain to be relegated. There may be hope: Why Five-Goal Defeats Are Good For Orient

17 August 2011

Leyton Orient 1 Wycombe Wanderers 3, 16/8/11

A game which... showed Orient fans that perhaps the pre-season dreams of the play-offs were as wildly misguided as Jedward believing they have a good chance of getting Kate Winslet home for a threesome at the next BAFTA after-party.

For all the bluster of the 30-minute spell before half-time in which Orient dominated, there really weren't many clear-cut chances and, as I recall, not a single shot on target from either striker. Then, once 3-1 down there was so little bite to Orient's fightback that the Wycombe players must have felt like they were being lightly nudged by a blancmange.

Moment of class... Just the one - Dean Cox's goal, swept in expertly from the edge of the penalty box. Tiny was the chief instigator of Orient's one bright period of the game, swarming all over the pitch like a toddler who's just downed eight pints of Sunny Delight.

Moment of madness... The moment in the second half at which Jamie Cureton, with clear sight of goal in the Wycombe penalty area, elected to instead delicately chip the ball into thin air, perhaps hoping that a freak gust of wind had more chance of putting the ball in the net than one of his Orient teammates.

Knight in shining armour... Asking who was Orient's man of the match is a bit like trying to choose your favourite member of JLS. The answer, of course, is none of them. Dawson ran around a lot, Spring was better than on Saturday and Daniels did a least look vaguely threatening on the left. But let's give it to David Mooney for at least creating a bit of impetus after coming on as a substitute.

Pantomime horse... A few candidates for this one, I'm afraid, but let's plump for Revell and Cureton, who managed to show such a lack of understanding it was like watching a conversation between Stephen Hawking and Kerry Katona.

In the dug out... "We shot ourselves in the foot," said Big Russ after the game, perhaps explaining the defending of Elliot Omozusi, who was turned inside out so many times by Wycombe's Joel Grant that he'll probably go home and find he's wearing his internal organs outside of his body.

A word on the visitors... Wycombe, driven by an impressive performance by Shameless's Frank Gallagher - sorry, Gareth Ainsworth - took their chances and closed the game down effectively. Joel Grant looked to have a bit of class about him too.

Meanwhile, on Twitter... Big news on Twitter this week: after a club directive of some sort or other, Jamie Jones, Dean Cox, Alex Revell and George Porter have packed their bags and ridden off into the social networking sunset. Thankfully no one seems to have told Elliot Omozusi, who today broke from tradition by tweeting something that almost made grammatical sense. 'Dappy! Pull it pull it pull it!' he wrote, no doubt stomping round his bedroom to N-Dubz while his mum banged on the door telling him to keep the noise down.

Lesson for the day: Let's give credit where credit is due - Orient certainly shut down the opposition's opportunities to score 30-yard screamers, a lesson learnt from the previous two games. Now all they need to do is to prevent free headers in the box and needless penalties, and the defence will be as solid as Alex Reid and Chantelle Houghton's new relationship. Oh, hang on...

13 August 2011

Leyton Orient 0 Tranmere Rovers 1, 13/8/11

A game which... was such an anti-climax for Orient fans it was like turning up to a Jay-Z gig only to find he's been replaced at the last minute by Cher Lloyd. Yes, three months of hope, excitement and anticipation all came crashing down at the hands of a Tranmere side whose away performance was so textbook it'll be probably be added to the national curriculum next year.

But Orient can only blame themselves for a second league loss, repeatedly giving the ball away in midfield and failing to convert 30 minutes or so of pressure into a goal. It's very early days, of course, but if we want to make the play-offs - like a punk getting ready for a last-minute rendezvous - we need to gel quickly.

Moment of class... A delightful bit of edge-of-the-box interplay between Dean Cox and Jamie Cureton that nearly led to a Stephen Dawson goal in the second half. The relationship between these two diminutive players could be key this season - not least so that Cox can look up to someone without the need for binoculars.

Moment of madness... The point in the first half at which Elliot Omozusi elected to pass the ball right into the path of Tranmere striker Enoch Showumni. The right back's propensity to blight otherwise classy performances with singular moments of madness is something akin to a brain surgeon who spends hours meticulously and delicately performing an operation with a scalpel, only to suddenly declare, 'Fuck it, I'm going to use a pickaxe.'

Knight in shining armour... There were enough positives in Jamie Cureton's performance - his ability to get on the end of knock ons, his intelligent build-up play - to suggest that he could break the Brisbane Road Curse that renders previously high-scoring strikers impotent.

Pantomime horse... Matthew Spring had such a stinker today that, given the size of his nose, it was a surprise he didn't asphyxiate himself. There were no shortage of similar performances last season, and there's surely a question over whether the former Charlton man is the playmaking solution in a season where we're aiming for the play-offs.

In the dug out... You'd forgive Russell Slade for thinking to himself, 'Hey, I wonder if Barnsley's players repeatedly pass the ball to the opposition?' His team didn't click today, but fair play to the manager, he wasn't shy about going for the win, bringing on two strikers and a 6ft carrot in the closing stages.

A word on the visitors... Fair play to Tranmere, they're a hard team to beat and once they went ahead successfully stifled the play. Also credit to the impunity of manager Les Parry who, after deliberately booting the ball down the wrong end of the pitch in a time-wasting bid, claimed to the fourth official that it had simply accidentally spooned off his ankle. You're not Adrien Patulea, Les.

Meanwhile, on Twitter... 'At home bumping this new margz on a hype ting' said Elliot Omozusi - @elliot_nuts - ahead of the day's game, which presumably means he was accidentally colliding with furniture in an excitable manner. Surely a bit of light exercise would have been better preparation?

Lesson for the day: Since Orient are clearly susceptible to 35-yard screamers, perhaps it might be pertinent to try playing the entire defence in midfield against Wycombe to cut down their opportunities to score? Where's Donny Barnard when you need him?

06 August 2011

Five things to look forward to this season at Leyton Orient

There's nothing quite like the first day of the new football season. The anticipation, the expectation, the dreams... All of which tend to coming crashing down when Orient proceed to lose their first game 3-0 to Port Vale or someone.

Not this season though. This time we're going to lose 3-0 to Walsall. Just kidding. There's actually a strange smell in the east London air. No, not the festering odour of this season's pies being delivered to the Peter Allen bar. It's the aroma of optimism. A feeling that this could turn out to be a great campaign for Orient.

Here, then, are five things to look forward to...

1. Orient's short passing game

In the days of Glenn Morris, Orient were left with no choice but to play the ball out from the back since his sliced kicks rarely reached much further than the edge of his own penalty area. These days the Os' attacks deliberately begin with the goalkeeper and there's a firm intention to play the ball up the field rather than lumping it to the far end and hoping for the best. This is a great spectacle for fans. Who, after all, wouldn't enjoy watching our defence repeatedly passing the ball horizontally to each other until its stolen off them by the other team? Or Jamie Jones cutting out the middle man and simply throwing the ball straight to the opposition striker, as he did at Charlton. But for all the times it didn't work, there were many more when it did, as our seventh-placed finish proves.

2. The physical battle

Attempting to play a neat passing game is all very well, but in League One there's a breed of player - genetically linked to the Neanderthal race - who'll simply twat you if you try anything fancy like, say, controlling the ball. Size, then, is also key and the current squad is Orient's biggest for many years. New signings Scott Cuthbert, Marc Laird and David Mooney are all 6ft-plus and if things get really physical we can always rely on Dean Cox to punch someone in the knee.

3. The loanees

In pre-Russell Slade days, Orient's attempts to use the loan system were something akin to turning up at a cattle market hoping to secure a prize bull, only to end up with a mangy gerbil. Or worse, Sam Parkin. Not any more. Last season Paul-Jose M'Poku, Tom Carroll, Andrew Whing and Harry Kane all added to the enjoyment of afternoons at Brisbane Road, and with Russell's good judgement we should expect more of the same this campaign.

4. The Russell Slade smile

Managers of old at Brisbane Road, let's call them Geraint Williams, Martin Ling and Paul Brush for the sake of argument, tended to greet Orient goals with all the enthusiasm of a festival crowd who've just learnt that the surprise headliner on the main stage is Olly Murs. Not Russell Slade, whose highly-charged jigs down the touchline demonstrate the passion of a manager who's 100 per cent behind his team. Let's hope that this season we're seeing plenty of them. Might help him keep in shape, too.

5. Meeting old friends

Adam Chambers and Ryan Jarvis at Walsall, Jabo Ibehre at MK Dons, Gary Alexander at Brentford, Adam Boyd at Hartlepool... Yep, there are no shortage of players who are going to score against us this season. But it'll be nice to catch up with old friends safe in the knowledge that over the summer Orient have retained their best players, bolstered the squad and let go those who weren't at the top of their game. It really all does bode very well for this season. Let's hope things live up to expectations...

02 August 2011

Leyton Orient's 10 worst summer signings of the century

Orient, it's fair to say, have a pretty mixed record in the summer transfer market. Sometimes we'll sign a player who turns out to be dud, while at other times we'll sign a player who turns out to be a dud, but then miraculously goes on to play in the Premier League.

And before you start complaining, this is about performances in an Orient shirt, rather than the quality of the player over the course of their career.

Here, then, after literally seconds of painstaking research, is my top 10 worst summer signings of the century...

10. Lee Thorpe (signed summer 2002)

The theory: The summer of 2002 was the chance for new manager Paul Brush to throw off the shackles of the Tommy Taylor era, to begin a brave new world at Brisbane Road, to bring pride back to Leyton Orient. But instead of all that he signed Lee Thorpe.
The reality: While the ex-Lincoln man was definitely the more effective of his occasional strike partnership with Gary Taylor-Fletcher, that is essentially like claiming that Paris Hilton is an intellectual giant when compared to a lamppost.
Where is he now? After floating around League Two for a number of years, Thorpe made 20 appearances for Evo-Stik Division One North side AFC Fylde, before retiring from football in December 2011 to concentrate on coaching.

9. Alan White (2004)

The theory: Martin Ling's first full season in charge of Orient found him trying to shore up a defence that had shipped 65 league goals during the previous campaign. Key to this was ex-Colchester United centre back Alan White.
The reality: White helped Ling's Orient ship 67 league goals over the course of the season.
Where is he now? After a few seasons of League Two kick and rush for various clubs including Notts County and Darlington, White signed for Blyth Spartans in the Conference North in 2011 and scored an own goal on his debut. Was transferred to fellow Conference North outfit Harrogate Town in 2012 and turned out a handful of times for them last season.

8. Adrian Patulea (2009)

The theory: "Adrian Patulea is an out-and-out goal scorer," said manager Geraint Williams on signing the Romanian from Lincoln City in 2009. "He just loves being in and around the 18-yard box."
The reality: Adrian certainly did love being in and around the 18-yard box and could regularly be seen there during the substitutes' half-time kickabouts. When actually involved in a game, Patulea - who laboured under the nickname Dracula - was about as useful as a vegetarian buffet to a vampire.
Where is he now? After failing to impress at Hereford United, Adrian returned to his native Romania in August 2011 to play for second tier side FC Farul Constanta, before joining CSMS Lasi - apparently a football club and not, as the name suggests, the Romanian police force's special dog unit.

7. Aaron Brown (2010)

The theory: For his first full season in charge, boss Russell Slade needed to shore up a back line that had nearly got Orient relegated. Eschewing the Brisbane Road tradition of signing defenders under 5ft 6in, he plumped for promising Aldershot big lad Aaron Brown.
The reality: Brown spent the majority of the season on the bench, occasionally lumbering inanely up the touchline like a school kid with a growth spurt who's not allowed to play with the other boys in case he breaks them. On the pitch, he almost single-handedly lost Orient's FA Cup tie against non-league Droylsden.
Where is he now? Aaron returned to Aldershot for the 2011/12 season, where he played 10 games before, presumably in a case of mistaken identity, he was snapped up by Graham Westley's Preston. Although playing four games for the Lilywhites - including one as striker! - he was released as the end of the season and joined Maltese side Floriana, who didn't bother to pay him. Joined Irish side Limerick in March 2013.

6. Jamie Cureton (2011)

The theory: Despite scoring 18 goals in the 2010/11 season, 37-year-old Scott McGleish was released on account of his ageing joints. Russell Slade presumably wanted a sprightly youngster to lead his attack, so he signed 35-year-old Jamie Cureton.
The reality: Orient's new tactics for that season of playing 4-4-FUCKING LUMP IT hardly suited a proven goal poacher like Cureton. That said, on the rare occasions the former Exeter man did find himself with the ball at his feet in front of goal he showed all the prowess of a stage-frightened eight-year-old asked to deliver the Battle of Agincourt speech from Shakespeare's Henry V. He scored one meaningless goal in 19 meaningless appearances.
Where is he now? About to start banging them in for Cheltenham Town in League Two, having netted 15 times for Exeter City in 2012/13.

5. Michael Symes (2012)

The theory: Perceiving that League One had become a lot more physical, Russell Slade wanted to bring in some strength up front.
The reality: Symes had strength, it was just all the other skills required of a professional footballer that were missing. Imagine going out to buy an iPad and coming back with an abacus. Symes was that abacus, and you could count on him to be 15 yards off the pace, lumbering round the pitch like an overweight hippopotamus woozily trying to shake off the effects of a tranquiliser dart.
Where is he now? Back at Brisbane Road after a loan spell at Burton Albion and desperate to show what he can do. Which is apparently putting 37 doughnuts in his mouth at the same time.

4. James Scowcroft (2009)

The theory: "He's clever, he can lead the line really well for us," said manager Geraint Williams of his new signing James Scowcroft in the summer of 2009. Williams wanted a striker with experience, and there was no denying that the former Crystal Palace man had pedigree.
The reality: Scowcroft had pedigree, but apparently it was Pedigree Chum. Or at least something was weighing him down. Zero goals in 26 appearances tells its own story.
Where is he now? After a brief spell at Ryman Premier League outfit Bury Town on a pay to play deal - he paid them, presumably - Scowcroft retired from football. Now coaches at Ipswich Town and writes for The Independent.

3. Joe Dolan (2005)

The theory: Martin Ling set to put right his frankly abysmal record of signing centre backs with the capture of 6ft 4in Joe Dolan in 2005. A former Chelsea trainee and fixture in the Millwall defence, what could possibly go wrong?
The reality: What could possibly go right? This hulking mass of walking ineptitude made only two first team appearances, the second of which found him in a battle with Bristol Rovers' Junior Agogo that was so painfully mismatched it was like watching Vladimir Klitschko go 12 rounds with Dale Winton.
Where is he now? Joe has played for 12 clubs since leaving Orient, mostly in the Conference South. He returned to Brisbane Road last season with Bromley for an FA Cup match, then went on to play for Havant & Waterlooville, scoring an injury-time winner that saved them from relegation in their last game of the 2011/12 season. They rewarded him by not renewing his contract, and he's since retired from playing. Now Head of Education at Crystal Palace Football Club. (Insert your own joke here.)

2. Clayton Fortune (2006)

The theory: Orient had just been promoted to League One, had lost Gabriel Zakuani to Fulham and were relying on the creaking legs of John Mackie at the back. Help was needed, and Martin Ling deemed that that help was going to come from Port Vale man Clayton Fortune.
The reality: Even now Orient fans still scratch their head in bemusement over Clayton Fortune. Did Ling actually intend to sign his cousin Jonathan Fortune? Was he being filmed for a Channel 4 Faking It documentary? Was the whole thing a dream? Over the two years that Fortune was one of Orient's highest paid players he turned out a grand total of 10 times, each and every one a pantomime horse display of comedy defending.
Where is he now? Played for Weston-super-Mare in the Conference South before making seven appearances for Aldershot in 2010/11. Retired from football and now describes himself as "Agent. Coach. Retail Supervisor." Presumably working in JD Sports, then.

1. Gary Taylor-Fletcher (2001)

The theory: When manager Tommy Taylor saw Gary Fletcher (as he was then) turn out for Northwich Victoria against the Os in the 2000/01 FA Cup he presumably thought to himself, "One day that boy's going to play in the Premier League." £50,000 later and the striker was turning out in an Orient shirt.
The reality: While Tommy Taylor spent 2010/11 admiring Taylor-Fletcher on Match Of The Day and getting a tattoo proclaiming 'I told you so' on his forehead, Orient fans can only shudder at the memory of two seasons of crimes against football so ghastly that even Hannibal Lecter might have thought them a bit excessive.
Where is he now? Regularly rubbing Orient fans' faces in the dirt while playing for Blackpool.
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