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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