26 December 2011

Leyton Orient 0 MK Dons 3, 26/12/11

A game in which... it seemed apparent that the MK Dons squad had spent Christmas Day drinking protein shakes, doing one-handed press-ups and firing themselves up by watching the famous Battle of Agincourt speech from Henry V. The Orient team, meanwhile, had clearly passed the time with their heads stuck down a bumper-sized box of Quality Street while plumped on the sofa sniggering, burping and farting their way through Home Alone.

So despite a relatively bright first half in which, to be fair, Orient could have gone ahead if it wasn't for the fact that their finishing was about as clinical as an operating theatre located in a sewer, the home side fell apart in the second and allowed an impressive MK Dons side to totally dominate and record a deserved victory.

Moment of magic... Not many to choose from, but Lee Butcher did pull off an impressive reflex save with his feet in the second half, diverting a close range shot onto the underside of the crossbar. That said, moments later he was so transfixed by Adam Smith's 35-yard strike that he simply watched in wonder as it sailed into his top corner, almost as if he'd just witnessed the Star of Bethlehem in the east London sky.

Moment of madness... When Jamie Cureton found himself alone on the opposition six-yard box with the ball at his feet and no defender near him, yet still managed to skew the ball onto the post. The fact that he was actually offside is by the by - at this rate you'd get better odds on Barry Hearn revealing himself to be the real Santa Claus than 'the Orient Torres' actually getting the ball in the back of the net before the season's up.

Knight in shining armour... Terrell Forbes tends to go about his business with the quiet efficiency of a mild-mannered mortgage adviser, but seasoned Brisbane Road observers will note he's seldom put a foot wrong this season. Today, in particular, he was imperious at the back in the face of the impressive MK Dons frontline of Dean Bowditch and some fella name of Jabo.

Pantomime horse... Now, Scott Cuthbert has been in superb form in the centre of defence this season, but clearly isn't the answer at right back given that he's got all the delivery skills of a bicycle courier on acid. He's not helped by the Russell Slade's aversion to playing right midfielders in front of him but - and here's a sentence you probably thought would never exist in the whole history of time - it'll be good to have Leon McSweeney back.

In the dug out... Some slightly bemusing decisions from the big man today, not least taking off Matthew Spring to allow George Porter on, when surely Jimmy Smith was the more logical choice given that Spring was actually giving some level of control to Orient's passing, while Smith was, well, you know, running around in circles wondering whether he needed to trim his hair again tomorrow or the day after.

A word on the opposition... To keep things in perspective it should be noted that MK Dons are one of the best sides to rock up at Brisbane Road this season, and Orient did match them throughout the first half. Meanwhile, it's worth remembering that at the end of the 2007/08 season Orient replaced Jabo Ibehre with Ryan Jarvis, which is something akin to a car enthusiast trading in his Ferrari Superamerica 45 for a punctured space hopper.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Thanks to the magic of Twitter we get to discover what Orient players get up to on Christmas Day. Dean Cox was on chef duties, as we can see from this picture which, incredibly, was actually taken inside the kitchen of a doll's house. Scott Cuthbert, too (also pictured), was also cooking - either that or he's moonlighting as a cut-price stripper.

Jimmy Smith was as excitable as ever: "Family getting drunk mum is doing me head in lol have some off my water mum lol #LEGOOOOOO". George Porter, meanwhile, celebrated the festive season the only way he knows how: "They'll be some love making, heart breaking, soul shaking !!" he tweeted before settling down to watch Downtown Abbey on his own with a monster pack of Doritos.

Lesson for the day... Three, in fact. Don't let your best strikers leave! Try not to eat too many mince pies if you're a professional footballer! Right midfielders are helpful!

10 December 2011

Leyton Orient 3 Exeter City 0, 10/12/11

A game in which... for the first hour, despite their class and endeavour, it seemed like there was more chance of Mark Wright being asked to host Question Time than Orient actually getting the ball in the net. Once Kevin Lisbie expertly dispatched his first penalty, however, it was like a huge weight had been lifted from the team's shoulders. Another huge weight entered the field in the form of super sub Jonathan Tehoue, whose goal was the catalyst to a delightful final spell of dominance over a good side in which the Os played with all the swagger of a teenage boy who's just got a snog off his older sister's best mate.

Moment of magic... The sight of the aforementioned Tehoue lumbering on to the pitch like an ageing water buffalo slowly awakening from a deep slumber. The French striker has an incredible habit of being in the right place at the right time and, as today showed, his goals from the bench are going to be invaluable as the season progresses.

Moment of madness... Jimmy Smith's point blank miss in which - after a brilliant piece of trickery by Kevin Lisbie on the right - he contrived to shoot straight at the keeper from all of three and a half inches in front of a gaping goal.

Knight in shining armour... Plenty of impressive performances today - Lisbie, McSweeney, Spring and Cuthbert for starters - but man of the match surely has to go to Stephen Dawson. The captain was such a force of energy today that if you'd wired him up he could have powered a small village in Essex.

Pantomime horse... Though he actually had a pretty decent game, the fact that Jamie Cureton - "the Orient Torres" - still hasn't found the net is something akin to Keith Richards turning up to perform at your office Christmas party, but proclaiming he 'couldn't be arsed' to bring his guitar.  

In the dug out... You'd be pretty happy as a manager if your first substitute scores with his first touch, and your second wins a penalty minutes later. Indeed, things were going so well for Russ that if he'd sent Marc Laird on the midfielder would have probably scored a jaw-dropping bicycle kick. Although, just to be on the safe side, Slade left the former Millwall man on the bench. After all, there's no point in risking throwing away a 3-0 lead in the last few minutes.

A word on the opposition... Exeter certainly didn't look like a team that should be hovering just above the relegation zone. They looked like they should be in it. Just kidding, in fact the Grecians were a tidy, effective outfit and can consider themselves unlucky not to have gone one up in the second half when only the post and a fantastic save from Lee Butcher kept the Os in it. Although I'm unclear as to why manager Paul Tisdale was dressed as if he was about to hunt bison in the Canadian wilderness.

Meanwhile on Twitter... This week George Porter took time off from bemoaning the lack of attractive women in his life - "No 10/10 girls about anymore or even like 9 or 8 too many 4's" - to enter into coversation with Debbie - aka Lydia's mum - from The Only Way Is Essex. "Why are you on Twitter? #embarrassing mums" he asked rather rudely, only to be told by Debbie that she's an Orient fan. "Am I your favourite player?" a contrite George replied, hopefully. Debbie is yet to respond.

Lesson for the day... Hey, if you play with two strikers at home you score goals!

03 December 2011

FA Cup: Leyton Orient 0 Gillingham 1, 3/12/11

A game in which... Orient played with all the passion and enthusiasm of a hospital nurse tasked with dressing a minor wound sustained by Jeremy Clarkson. Full credit to Gillingham, but the Os did themselves no favours at all today. The first half tactics consisted solely of pumping long balls to a lone striker placed strategically at 15 yards offside. Russell Slade's not afraid to change things round though, oh no, and in the second half the Os came out with a revised plan of pumping long balls to two strikers placed strategically at 15 yards offside.

Moment of magic... There was no magic today, unless you count Marc Laird's now infamous disappearing act, in which he trots out from the tunnel in full view of the crowd, yet somehow manages to remain invisible for the entirety of the game.

Moment of madness... When Ben Alnwick decided to give Gillingham an early Christmas gift by spooning an innocuous back pass directly into the path of one of their strikers, almost ruining Russell Slade's best-laid plans to scrape a 0-0 draw.

King for a day... Scott Cuthbert. Were the entire Orient squad dumped in the middle of an Australian jungle - now there's a thought - then today the former Swindon man would be out killing crocodiles with his teeth while his teammates cowered by the campfire trembling at the sight of small insects.

Pantomime horse... Sadly, George Porter, whose performances tend to be in direct contrast to the quality of the opposition. By that token, he'd presumably tear apart the Barcelona defence yet come unstuck against the overweight left back from the local girls school's under-11 side.

In the dug out... "We've got a lot of soul-searching to do," said Russell after today's game, suggesting that instead of spending the week working on how to create more chances, the squad will peer deep into their own minds to try to establish the root causes of today's loss. God only knows what Jimmy Smith will find there - a pirate DVD of the Transformers movie and a 2-4-1 voucher for Nando's, probably.

A word on the opposition... Fair play to Gillingham, they took advantage of a poor Os performance with a fair degree of class. They'd even handicapped themselves before kick off by apparently weighing down striker Danny Kedwell with 47 doughnuts and a KFC mega-deal.

Meanwhile on Twitter... John Sitton continues to prove he definitely isn't bonkers by singing the footballing praises of Z-list celebrity and former Mr Jade Goody, Jeff Brazier. "Jeff listened, could play, was a good little athlete, cracking little midfield player who had the heart the size of a dustbin lid," tweeted Sitts. Next week: the former Os manager on how he could have avoided relegation if only he'd been allowed to sign H from Steps.

Lesson for the day... Since playing seven midfielders - count 'em - was clearly not sufficient to create any chances, perhaps against Exeter we should go the whole hog and populate the whole team with them. Where's Paul Terry when you need him?
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