15 October 2011

Leyton Orient 1 Bury 0, 15/10/11

A game in which... Orient had so many chances to score it was almost as if Gary Barlow had wandered into Faces Nightclub, Gants Hill, on Ladies-4-Free night. Yes, after a pretty tepid first half the Os had the X Factor in the second, creating plenty up front and remaining solid at the back. On such simple foundations games are won, and although the Os should have converted at least another goal or two, three wins in three suggests that the diabolical start to the season is now becoming as distant a memory as Kate Thornton's career.

Moment of magic... The first half moment when Dean Cox managed to chest a 40-yard pass from Matthew Spring around a Bury defender to play himself in for a run at goal. Although he had a relatively quiet game by his own high standards, the pint-sized midfielder is still the Leona Lewis in a team of otherwise forgotten X Factor winners.

Moment of madness... The second half moment when Kevin Lisbie - in the penalty area with clear sight of goal - dawdled for so long on the ball that Bury's Efe Sodje had enough time to run a few personal errands before calmly dispossessing the Orient striker. Don't get me wrong, Lisbie put in a hard-working shift, but in front of goal today he was about as deadly as a Dannii Minogue put down.

Knight in shining armour... It was a good team performance, with much-improved displays from Leon McSweeney and David Mooney, plus a faultless shift from Terrell Forbes. But at the heart of it was that man Stephen Dawson again, who ran himself into ground to such a degree that they're going to need to call in a bulldozer to dig him out again.

Pantomime horse... No one had a particularly bad game, although Scott Cuthbert did nearly hari-kari the ball off his shin and into his own net at the death. And while Lee Butcher kept a clean sheet and made some tidy saves, he still looks as panicked as a talent show contestant who's forgotten his lyrics whenever crosses are floating in.

In the dug out... It looks like Big Russ has got his mojo back after spending the first couple of months of the season sulking about not being allowed the chance to get Barnsley relegated. His 4-2-3-1 formation - otherwise known as 'Give it to Coxy and hope for the best' - seems to be paying dividends, and with Jimmy Smith soon to come back to take the anonymous midfielder role from Tom Clarke things are looking up.

A word on the opposition... 'You can't cure ugliness' shouted a West Stand wag as Bury's Mark Hughes ran to the touchline to receive treatment. But Bury weren't an unattractive side and could certainly consider themselves unlucky not to have snatched a point when they hit the woodwork in the final minutes.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Busy week for the injured Jimmy Smith. In between waking up and going to bed he also had to get a new phone. And since there's only so much cognitive activity one footballing brain can cope with, something had to give - and in this case it was his Twitter password: 'New twitter New phone 4got me other password lol oh #LEGOOOOO' he wrote on his new account. In future then, for gripping real-time news of haircuts and training, then @Sm1thy_JD is your man.

Lesson of the day... Last week's Lisbie aberration aside, there is clearly some as yet unnamed law of physics that dictates that Orient players will never, ever score when in a one-on-one situation with the goalkeeper. Three chances went begging today (Dawson twice and Lisbie once) which suggests that in future the Os might considering preserving energy by simply booting the ball back into their own half of the field. Cut out the middle man.

01 October 2011

Leyton Orient 2 Preston North End 1, 1/10/11

A game in which... you'd probably have got better odds on Amy Childs winning the Nobel Prize for Literature than the eventual result. But, yes, ladies and gentlemen, Leyton Orient have finally won a game of football. And fully deserved it too, for while at times they rode their luck like a rodeo champion on a fairground bucking bronco, over the 90 minutes the Os were the better team.

Admittedly the last 15 minutes were as nerve-wracking as the words "Today's flight is under the command of captain Stevie Wonder", but never in the history of modern culture have 4000 people actually been pleased to hear the soft-rocking jangle of Status Quo's Rockin' All Over The World.

Moment of magic... Lee Butcher, remember, has failed to save any of his last 14 penalties. Preston's Graham Alexander is one of the most reliable spot kickers in the whole of football. So when the two stared each other down from 12 yards at the start of the second half, it was like watching Mad Frankie Fraser square up to Brian Dowling. Incredibly, though, Butcher defied the odds, pulled off a remarkable save and gave Orient the confidence that things just might go their way.

Moment of madness... Preston's first goal, in which a hole opened up in Orient's defence so big that even Simon Cowell's ego couldn't have plugged it up. At that point it looked like it was game over, but massive credit to the players for pulling themselves out of the mire.

Knight in shining armour... Coxy got the goals, but it was Stephen Dawson that drove Orient to victory, with a performance so gritty it could have melted snow-covered roads across the whole of Essex. If the team are going to avoid relegation we're going to need our captain to put in plenty more shifts like this.

Pantomime horse... Yes, Leon McSweeney was playing out of position, but surely that doesn't excuse a repeated inability to control or pass the ball? In one particularly bizarre moment the former Hartlepool man elected to prevent a ball going out for a throw-on 40 yards up the pitch by booting it out for a corner.

In the dug out... Today Russ was more fired up than he's been all season and was twice seen passionately issuing complex instructions - "Watch the ball!" "Try not to let any goals in!" - from the touchline. But you have to hand it to him for his bold tactical genius in lulling Preston into a false sense of security by failing to win the previous 10 games then hitting them with a sucker punch.

A word on the opposition... After the first 30 minutes, in which they waltzed around Orient as if they were auditioning for the new series of Strictly Come Dancing, Preston suddenly seemed to suffer collective sunstroke - possibly under the glare of Phil Brown's tan. A classy side no doubt - the young Jamie Proctor looked impressive - but today wasn't their day.

Meanwhile on Twitter... While the followers of Jimmy Smith were no doubt on tenterhooks awaiting his comments on the recent hot weather - "Lovely HOT day, time 4 Trim + Food + watch TV" he eventually tweeted, much to everyone's relief - the young George Porter was less impressed with the temperature. "If I see 1 more girl in leggings I'm gunna start kicking off ! Look at the weather females," he wrote, while presumably cruising the streets of Essex in his Ford Focus.

Lesson for the day... If all else fails lob the ball up into the six-yard box for your 4ft 9in midfielder to head in. If improbable goals are the way forward, then, next week Orient should try lining up Charlie Daniels to shoot with his right foot - that or bring back Loick Pires.
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