15 December 2012

Leyton Orient 1 Scunthorpe United 3, 15/12/12

A game in which... Orient were flatter than a flatfish that's just been sat on by Jonathan Tehoue. The first half was entirely uneventful; the second had events - unfortunately those events were mostly Scunthorpe goals.

Still, the mixture of luck, fluke, accident and miracle that allowed Orient to win eight games in a row was always going to come to an end at some point. What's important is that today's result doesn't send us spinning in the opposite direction.

Moment of magic... Difficult to pick out a moment of magic in a game in which Orient's only shot on target was a penalty. Too many players had an off day today - Rowlands, James, Cook, Cox for starters - so let's instead celebrate the South Stand fan dressed up as Santa who was ejected from the ground. Apparently it was for shouting "Sleighed out". (Blame Bill Badger for that joke, not me.)

Moment of madness... The point at which the entire Orient team apparently thought to themselves, "Well, if there's any time to take a quick nap, it's now" just as Scunthorpe took the free-kick that resulted in their second goal. Indeed, so sluggish were the players throughout the match that if you'd flung some salt at them after the final whistle they would have shrivelled up and died.

Knight in shining armour... All hail the League One Player of the Month, Kevin Lisbie. The former Charlton man hadn't exactly been setting the world on fire for the few seasons before he joined Orient but he seems to have found his mojo in E10. And while at times he must feel like Noel Gallagher trying to jam with The Saturdays, long may his form continue.

Pantomime horse... Since it's panto season it was somehow appropriate that every time Gary Sawyer looked around in search of who he was supposed to be marking, the answer was invariably "He's behind you." Yes, the left back was in dire need of a fairy godmother to tell him "You shall go to the ball" - as it was, his performance was uglier than any ugly sister. Oh no it wasn't! Oh yes it was.

In the dug out... Thanks to his appearance at the AGM last week we now have an insight into Russell's mind. "Marc Laird wasn't the player I thought he was" he admitted, for example, suggesting perhaps he accidentally brought the midfielder to Brisbane Road when actually trying to hire a plumber. He also revealed he has a love/hate relationship with Dean Cox - Russell loves Cox; Cox hates Russell.

Meanwhile on Twitter... This week Dean Cox gave us a unique insight into his domestic affairs and the work he's doing to promote women's rights. "Get home and cook some dinner" he demanded of his girlfriend, who replied "Sorry, who do you think your talking to? you can have toast". But toast is hardly going to satisfy a growing lad like Deano (I presume he's still growing, right?). "Won't be living here much longer with that attitude" he tweeted back before issuing a plaintive - and hungry - cry to his sister: "Is mum up?"

Statto corner... The last time an Orient striker notched up nine goals before Christmas - as Kevin Lisbie has done - was when Steve Watts broke into the club secretary's office in 2001 after a night on the town with Jordan and credited eight of Carl Griffiths' strikes to himself.

02 December 2012

View From The Sofa: Alfreton Town 2 Leyton Orient 4, 2/12/12

Orient take to the pitch
A televised game which... Orient would have lost 58-4 were it not for the opposition's relentless targeting of the woodwork. Yes, if the footballers from the tiny, rural 16th century hamlet of Alfreton were playing crossbar challenge then they'd have won this game hands down.

As it was, they were unlucky to come away with nothing since for large parts of the game the Os were as somnolent as a Derbyshire villager trying to sleep off the 37 cans of cider he'd consumed at the local school fete. Luckily a couple of spells of control and four quality goals ensured Orient's passage to round three.

Small screen hero... If you ever need a striker to punish a defence composed of electricians, taxi drivers and school dinner ladies, then David Mooney is your man. The Irishman continued his recent run of good form with a lively display and two deftly-taken goals. For reasons best known to himself, however, he rather embarrassingly elected to celebrate the second by playing Pat-A-Cake, Pat-A-Cake, Baker's Man with Lee Cook.

Stage fright... Ben Chorley - who has been excellent of late - seemed to approach being in front of the cameras with all the confidence of a Hollyoaks extra asked to star in Othello alongside Kenneth Branagh.

Lee Cook still in the process
of leaving the pitch
TV burp... Lee Cook's ridiculous time-wasting in the second half, when he left the pitch after being substituted so slowly it was like watching someone try to run through a swamp in concrete boots. Or Michael Symes running unimpeded.

View from the opposition... "We should of won that game," said Alfreton player Ross Killock. And while a Alfreton victory wouldn't really have counted as a 'giant-killing' - more an unexpected rebuke of a dwarf by a six-year-old girl - they would probably have deserved it.

Meanwhile on Twitter... More bizarre Anglo-French banter from Mathieu Baudry, who tweeted earlier this week: "nice eveniing ... arms one fire after gym+lost my phone there" which presumably means he accidentally set himself alight at Fitness First before misplacing his Blackberry.

Statto corner... Orient still have a long way to go to beat the 1961/62 record of nine straight wins. The run was finally brought to an end in a 3-2 loss against Bristol Rovers after Sid Bishop, Cyril Lea and Dave Dunmore chose not to turn up until 40 minutes into the first half as they had half a crown on an insider-tipped greyhound at Walthamstow Dogs.

24 November 2012

Leyton Orient 2 Preston North End 0, 24/11/12

Preston line up for kick off
A game in which... Orient proved to Graham Westley for the third time in a row that when it comes to winning football matches, size isn't everything. Presumably the home side had prepared for the game by attempting to dribble round skyscrapers and slide-tackle tanks, and it paid off. The Os out-fought and out-played the opposition and - I can't believe I'm actually writing this - took their chances while Preston didn't. And what a thoroughly enjoyable victory it was.

Moment of magic... An extraordinary sequence towards the end of the second half in which Preston had approximately 52 chances to score within the space of 15 seconds, but failed to convert any of them. Ryan Allsop - heroic again today - pulled off two blinding saves and at one point the ball skidded from one post to another, but somehow stayed out of the net. So, yes, Orient rode their luck at times but God knows we're due some. The last time good fortune smiled on Brisbane Road was back in 1923 when clumping wing-half Tommy "Dickers" Dixon inadvertently scored off his backside while bending over to throw up the 17 pints of milk stout he'd consumed that morning.

Preston's Jack King attempts a bicycle kick
Moment of madness... The moment in the first half when Preston's gargantuan midfielder Jack King tried - and spectacularly failed - to execute an audacious Ibrahimovic-esque bicycle kick in the Orient penalty area. It was like watching a slowly dying beached whale attempt a somersault.

Knight in shining armour... A fine team performance today, but let's take the chance to herald the renaissance of Ben Chorley. Last season, if you recall, the central defender focused most of his attention on plotting to oust Leon McSweeney from the club for heinous crimes such as "sneezing a little too often" and "sometimes blinking a bit much". This campaign he's concentrating on what he does best: pulling his shorts up to his midriff and battering the hell out of opposition strikers. Long may it continue.

Pantomime horse... No bad performances from anyone in an Orient shirt, so let's give the award to Graham Westley. The Preston manager is apparently so convinced that match officials are 'prejudiced' against his psychopathic teams that today instead of substituting one of his own players he replaced referee Andy Davies with the fourth official near the start of the second half.

Russell Slade
In the dug out... It's difficult to know what to make of Russell Slade's ability to take Orient down to new levels of abomination and then - just when it looks like his number might be up - turn it around with five wins in a row. But it looks like the manager has finally figured out what his best team is and - incredibly - that team contains David Mooney and Lloyd James (both excellent today). Is it luck? Is it judgement? Is he an evil genius planning to take over the world? No one knows. Probably least of all Russell himself.

Meanwhile on Twitter... "Can't wait to get my haircut at the end of the week" tweeted injured goalkeeper Lee Butcher on Tuesday, suggesting that he's struggling to find pleasure during his spell on the sidelines. "It's always nice to get home from a long drive" he reported on Thursday after presumably doing a few circuits of the M25 for kicks. Things went from bad to worse on Friday: "What a mistake that was thinking I should try something new at Starbucks. Eggnog not good." Don't worry, though, Os' fans - Butch has apparently invited Michael Symes over on Sunday for a couple of hours watching paint dry.

Statto corner... The last time Orient kept a clean sheet at home was in a game against Tranmere Rovers in 2010. Some of Jimmy Smith's stale aftershave had rubbed off on the goalpost, causing the visiting strikers to steer well clear, much as the girls of Faces nightclub, Gants Hill, would avoid the midfielder later that same evening.

10 November 2012

Leyton Orient 2 Shrewsbury Town 1, 10/11/12

A game which... was the footballing proof of the theorem that states if a monkey randomly hits the keys of a typewriter for an infinite amount of time, eventually it will produce the complete works of Shakespeare. Yes, this season Orient have spent what feels like an eternity propelling the ball in the vague direction of the opposition goal and today thanks to the law of probability it actually went in. Twice.

At times they played some nice football too. At times they played some shit football, mind, and while we should celebrate a much-needed victory, it's still only tissue-papering over some Grand Canyon-sized cracks.

Moment of magic... David Mooney's through ball to Moses Odubajo that led to Orient's penalty and first goal at Brisbane Road since 1963. The Irishman seems to divide opinion among fans - some think he's abysmal while others believe he's merely hopeless - but he does have an ability to be both sublime and ridiculous. Today he showed great skill and jaw-dropping ineptitude - usually within the same move. It's like watching Placido Domingo try to sing Olly Murs songs.

Russell Slade selecting today's team
Moment of madness... The point when - thanks to a mistake by the fourth official - it appeared that Russell Slade was going to bring Ryan Brunt on to play at right back in place of Moses Odubajo. Admittedly the manager's selection policy of late (which presumably sees him writing the players' names onto a square peg then manically trying to sledgehammer it through a round hole before giving up and declaring, "Fuck it - Lloyd James in centre midfield") is borderline insane, but even he wouldn't be mad enough to play a striker in defence. He did once play right back Syam Ben Youssef up front, mind.

Knight in shining armour... Kevin Lisbie. If by some miracle we actually avoid relegation this season then our star striker is probably going to be the reason behind it. He's not going to find it easy, though - with the likes of Lloyd James and Jimmy Smith providing the ammunition it's a bit like sending a solider into battle armed with only a Michael Buble CD and a packet of blancmange.

Pantomime horse... Lee Cook's cringeworthy dive in the penalty area makes him a good candidate, though he's excused thanks to the quality of some of his crosses. Why don't we instead ponder on what Jimmy Smith actually brings to the team? Ok, so that's a millisecond of your life you're never going to get back. I guess to be charitable you could say he 'fills a hole'. But then again so does a lump of concrete, and you wouldn't play that in midfield. Unless the only other option is Marc Laird.

In the dug out... Russell Slade turned his back, unable to watch, as Kevin Lisbie strode up to take Orient's penalty today, perhaps suggesting that the team actually play better when the manager isn't paying any attention. If he didn't turn up at all perhaps we could be top of the league?

View from the opposition... "Poor performance from both sides," says Shrewsbury fan Liam Hoofe. "Inability to defend is clearly costing both teams. Rodgers and Taylor were lively for us, Lisbie was impressive for Orient. Both teams will struggle this season. It could have gone either way."

Meanwhile on Twitter... This week saw a truly mindblowing stream of consciousness from everyone's favourite bringer of dinner and former Os' boss John Sitton. His rant careered from X Factor to the Middle East to Paul Burrell to mopeds to planning permission for reservoirs and trying to make sense of it was like figuring out what sort of gameplan one of Sitton's Orient teams were actually playing to. The main target for his wrath, however, turned out to be students: "Burger Pizza Booze.STD'S Marijuana & books" he tweeted, not inaccurately, before leaving all of his followers with this philosophical humdinger: "Marmalade. Why didn't they call it orange jam?"

Statto corner... Despite Russell Slade's midweek claim that Orient were just "inches away" from not being dire, if you total up the distance by which all of this season's failed attempts at goal missed their target, the line actually stretches from Leyton to just north of the planet Jupiter.

28 October 2012

Leyton Orient 0 Coventry City 1, 27/10/12

A game which... began as a real Thriller, albeit only because of the Cheery Os' pre-match routine to the iconic Michael Jackson song. As a portent for what would follow a better choice would have been Useless by Depeche Mode, Frank Sinatra's Send In The Clowns or the Godsmack anthem I Fucking Hate You (although that one's less easy to dance to in hotpants).

Anyway, yeah, the football. Coventry were a poor side low on confidence - but luckily for them they met an even poorer one playing with abject fear. Two goals in the last seven games tells its own story, and while it's likely Orient will score before they're finally put out of business by an Olympic Stadium-residing West Ham, it is hard to see where a goal - let alone a win - is going to come from at the moment.

Moment of magic... Scott Wagstaff's backwards header in the first half that would have looped into the net had Coventry keeper Joe Murphy not just about managed to flap the ball into the path of David Mooney - presumably figuring that was a safer option than putting it out for a corner.

Moment of madness... Ryan Allsop's wince-inducing error that led to the Coventry goal. Sure, he let a tame shot spill out of his grasp, but the young stopper has been virtually flawless this season so we shouldn't punish him too much for the mistake. A couple of Chinese burns and a wedgie should suffice.

Knight in shining armour... David Mooney. Yes, it has come to this. The much-maligned striker (*guilty look*) was relatively lively and behind the few vague chances we actually had to score. That said, hailing David Mooney as the best player in a football team is a bit like claiming that Paris Hilton gives the stand out performance in a film. Chances are it's still going to be shit.

Pantomime horse... By his own standards, Dean Cox had a particularly bad game characterised by skewed shots and misplaced passes. Of course, for him playing at Brisbane Road must feel a bit like Jay-Z trying to rap with the Blazin' Squad, but if we have even the slightest chance of avoiding relegation then Tiny's going to have to find some way to raise his game.

In the dug out... Russell Slade's post-match comments are increasingly sounding like the deluded ravings of a madman. Today's gems included: "We created chances, that's the important thing." No, Russell, the "important thing" is actually scoring them. Or not always losing.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Apocalyptic news on Twitter this week as Jimmy Smith has packed his bags and #LEGOOOOO-ed into the social media sunset. For reasons unknown the midfielder has killed his account, leaving fans unsure as to whether at any given time he is "#fuming" or "gettin a trim #lookingoooood" or "game time #buzzing" or "treating the crib" or threatening fans with violence. For now, then, anyone who wants to get an insight into Jimmy's mind will have to make do with reading a 2004 copy of Zoo magazine.

Statto corner... The last time Orient scored as few goals in their first 16 games - just 11 so far - was back in 2008/09 when Martin Ling's increasingly deranged quest for a 'big striker' led him to play on-loan Sam Parkin alongside a 7ft step-ladder.

24 October 2012

Leyton Orient 0 Colchester United 2, 23/10/12

A game in which... Orient were so limp that had Colchester United decided to field a team of 11 soggy lettuces then the home side would still have set out to do nothing more than 'stay in the game' and 'hope to nick one'. Yes, this was another soul-destroyingly ineffective performance at Brisbane Road or - to put it more technically - by Christ we are shit.

To put it in perspective, if we ignore the aberration that was the Yeovil result, Orient have scored two goals at home in 540 minutes of league football - or one goal every three games. We lucked out against Brentford, nearly didn't beat an abysmal Hartlepool side... and apart from that the football at Brisbane Road has been about as appetising as a vegetarian picnic served up on the floor of an abattoir. 

Moment of magic... Predictably enough a weaving run from Moses Odubajo, this one in the second half that led to the keeper spilling the young winger's shot and Scott Wagstaff sticking the ball in the net - albeit from an offside position. Moses did his best tonight, but would probably rather spend 40 days and 40 nights stuck on top of Mount Sinai than try to save this team from what's looking like inevitable relegation. 

Moment of madness... It's easy to knock David Mooney - give it a go, it kills a few minutes - but the current woes of Orient are hardly his fault alone and he actually looked fairly lively when he came on. Nonetheless, it was with grinding predictability that the Irishman fluffed his big chance when Lee Cook plopped the ball on his head on the six-yard line with the goal gaping. 

Knight in shining armour... Martin Rowlands, a footballer whose intelligence is so wasted on his team mates it's like watching a Nobel Prize-winning physicist trying to explain the theory of relativity to a classroom full of drunken baboons. And Jimmy Smith. 

Pantomime horse... Gary Sawyer - not so much for his defending but for his set pieces. Indeed, so poor was his delivery that were he a midwife he'd be looking bemusedly at a woman in labour before announcing "Hey, let's use these rusty shears and some WD-40 to get the little fella out!"  

In the dug out... "There are just one or two things not going our way at the moment," said Russell Slade after the game. Which is true, in the sense that there were 'just one or two' things wrong with the safety procedures at Chernobyl. 

Meanwhile on Twitter... "Lovely reception back where it all began," tweeted Orient legend Jabo Ibehre after the game. "thank you very much it was nice to see old friends and familiar faces  :) up the o's!!!" Erm, any chance you could come back Jabo? We promise you won't make you play with Carl Hutchings again. 

Statto corner... Tonight Orient had just 28% of possession, the second-lowest at Brisbane Road ever. The only time the team had less of the ball was in a match against Millwall in 2008 when Martin Ling instructed his team to "pass it to Sean Thornton at every available opportunity", only to realise after 85 minutes that he'd actually sent the Irish midfielder on loan to Shrewsbury as a punishment for outrunning Paul Terry in training, despite having drunk 11 pints of Guinness. 

17 October 2012

Leyton Orient 1 Hartlepool United 0, 16/10/12

A game in which... Orient raced out of the blocks with so much eye-bulging energy it was as if Lance Armstrong had prepared their pre-match hydration. Yes, the home team could have been 3-0 up within about five minutes such was the attacking intent. That we only won 1-0 when we created so many chances is mildly concerning (despite heroics by the Hartlepool keeper) but let's instead celebrate a much-needed victory. Amazing what happens when you try to win football matches rather than not lose them, hey?

Moment of magic... Ryan Brunt's goal - the first at Brisbane Road in 225 minutes of league football - in which Moses Odubajo's cross was so sumptuous that, had he been on the pitch, Michael Symes would have eaten it rather than head it into the net. That's assuming Symes would have been on the end of the cross in the first place, as opposed to ambling round the centre circle idly wondering whether it would be ok to have a fry-up and a kebab after the game.

Moment of madness... Another piece of trickery from Moses Odubajo who, in the first half, somehow managed to nutmeg himself and backheel the ball into touch with no Hartlepool players in the vicinity. Next week: Anthony Griffith bamboozles the opposition by slide tackling himself then stamping on his own ankle.

Knight in shining armour... Odubajo all the way. Time and time again Moses parted the blue sea of defenders and created chance after chance. Indeed, Hartlepool left back Darren Holden may have more difficult nights in his life, but only if he tries to explain the rules of noughts and crosses to Jimmy Smith.

Ever seen these two in the same room? 
Pantomime horse... No bad performances from anyone in an Os' shirt tonight, so instead focus on the blood vessel-busting antics of The Thing lookalike Neale Cooper. At one point the Hartlepool manager unleashed such a loud stream of invective at the Orient bench that it nearly awakened Kevin Dearden from the deep and peaceful slumber he's been in since dropping off during the 1-0 loss to Ebbsfleet United in pre-season.

In the dug out... Tactically Russell got it spot on tonight after making the bold and risky decision to play his players in their correct positions. Full credit to him, too, for not battening down the hatches to preserve a 1-0 lead and continuing to encourage his team to press right up until the final whistle. And what was the secret of the victory? According to Slade it's starting training five minutes earlier. If only we'd known it was so simple.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Spare a though for former O George Porter, who when he's not playing for Burnley (which is all the time) continues to struggle with the everyday realities of life: "Taking pictures of my boiler sending them to my mum because I don't no how to work the heating, living alone is so hard!" Hard indeed, but don't worry Os fans, George has found a way to pass the time: "Why do I always think in can box in front of my mirror when I get out the shower?" In next week's instalment: George calls the police to help him turn on his dishwasher and fashions himself a beard made of bubble bath.

Statto corner... Orient's total of 20 shots on goal tonight was the highest since a game against Hull City in April 1998. That day Carl Griffiths - who was coincidentally just one goal short of his annual scoring bonus - took an unprecedented 73 shot on goal, 65 of which were from his own half.

09 October 2012

Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Leyton Orient 1 Barnet 0, 9/10/12

David Mooney
A game in which... Orient put in a vintage performance. Unfortunately that vintage was Paul Brush's dire 2002/03 squad. Yes, this was a League Two performance against a League Two club, but let's look on the bright side: we won, we kept a clean sheet and we're through to the next round.

More importantly this was a chance for the fringe players to show what they could do. And what they did was show why they were fringe players. It is, for example, possible to imagine a strikeforce worse than David Mooney and Michael Symes, but only if you picture in your mind a balloon with a face painted on it looking bemusedly at an oil tanker.

Moment of magic... The moment David Mooney cued up an overhead kick in the penalty area, no doubt possessed by the spirit of Chris Tate, who overcame similar suspicion among fans with a bicycled goal against Barnet in 2001. Mooney's no Tate though - it's even debatable whether he's of more use than the similarly-named bag of sugar - and his effort bobbled apologetically towards the keeper.

Moment of madness... The moment in the second half when David Mooney - yep, him again - apparently collapsed under the weight of his own ineptitude in the Barnet penalty area. Save the diving for the Olympic Park, eh Dave?

Knight in shining armour... Tonight seems as good a time as any to hail the qualities of Ryan Allsop, who's been flawless between the sticks of late. The young stopper is like a Glenn Morris who can kick; an Ashley Bayes who comes off his line; and a Jamie Jones who isn't always injured. Long may he continue.

Michael Symes
Pantomime horse... For the second game running - and despite a cameo from Marc Laird - I'm afraid the award has to go to Michael Symes. If I want to watch something slow and cumbersome lumber around a field mournfully then I can simply find a nature DVD that captures the protracted and painful death of a hippopotamus attacked by lions. At Brisbane Road we expect something a bit more from our strikers. Actually we don't, but God knows there must be a better option than Symes if we're looking for size and strength up front?

In the dug out... "SIMPLE! SIMPLE!" yelled Russell Slade at one point, which either means he was concerned that Orient were overcomplicating things or he was trying to attract the attention of Jimmy Smith. Assuming it was the former, then it's a strange message to relay, for the tactics seem to primarily echo that school playground staple 'kick and rush'. And what's simpler than that? Three and in?

Meanwhile on Twitter... This week former Os boss John Sitton took to Twitter this week to offer sage advice to a departed X Factor contestant: "Caroline should exit to the US," he wrote with the benefit of his long experience of the music business. "Will be a great success in Nashville." But who does Sitts himself back in the show? "JAHMENE!!!!!!!!!!!! Vote JAHMENE Or You Can Bring Your Dinner!!" he tweeted, menacingly. Well, you heard him.

Statto corner... Since Johnstone's Paint began sponsoring the Football League Trophy in 2006, they've experienced a 30 per cent drop in sales in east London. "We see no connection between that and the performances of Leyton Orient," said marketing director Nathan Bradley.

06 October 2012

Leyton Orient 0 Sheffield United 1, 6/10/12

A game which... was such a spectacle that were it played in the Olympic Stadium then the literally dozens of new London Orient fans would be demanding their money back, despite the fact they had free tickets. But let's not get too despondent since for most of the 90 minutes the Os matched a team who are better resourced, better supported and, well, just better.

Remember, Orient did actually create a couple of chances and conceded only to a wonder strike. But it's fair to say that despite a recent run of good results, we're not quite the finished article. More a half-decent first paragraph that quickly descends into the sort of meaningless drivel you find on Jimmy Smith's Twitter feed. #LEGOOOO

Moment of magic... The neat interplay between Kevin Lisbie and Lee Cook that cued up Anthony Griffith to score from the edge of the area in the second half. Anthony Griffith didn't score, mind you, he skewed the shot towards the corner flag so apologetically it was like he was grovelling for forgiveness for daring to suggest that Blades' fan Sean Bean was "a bit shit" in The Lord of the Rings.

Moment of madness... Substitute David Mooney's decision to direct a few choice words at Kevin Dearden after it was decreed that Ryan Brunt, rather than Moons himself, was to replace Kevin Lisbie. It's great that the non-scoring Irishman showed some passion, but complaining to Orient's goalkeeping coach is a bit like harassing your local paper boy about the fact that the mainstream media isn't giving enough attention to climate change. It might be true, but there ain't much he can do about it.

Knight in shining armour... Kevin Lisbie, who gets so little service during games that for training he might as well just sit in restaurants being ignored by incompetent waitresses. Nonetheless when he is thrown a scrap he makes things happen, and God only knows where our attacking threat is going to come from if he's out injured for a while.

Pantomime horse... Michael Symes, who's so slow off the mark it appeared he was still chasing a knock down from the Stevenage game back in August. A somewhat baffling decision by Slade to bring on the man voted as the worst striker in the entire history of Rochdale FC instead of top scorer (two goals) Ryan Brunt, but since the laws of the game prevent him from rolling an enormous lump of Playdoh into the penalty area on a broken rollerskate he presumably regards Symes as the next best thing.

In the dug out... Today's starting formation of choice appeared to be a 4-3-2-1 that perfectly nullified the ability of Dean Cox and Lee Cook to create anything from the wings. Still, fair play to Russell he changed it round on 25 minutes to the 4-4-2 system that he and Kevin Nugent stole from the archives of the National Football Museum in the most dangerous Orient endeavour since Steve Castle tried to escape from Pizza Hut without paying for his deep pan Hawaiian.

Meanwhile on Twitter.... "I wonder what Jimmy Smith gets up to when he's not trimming his hair or training?" said no one ever. But nonetheless, thanks to the magic of Twitter, the Orient midfielder gave us a unique insight into how he passes the time. And apparently he passes the time by arranging air fresheners into tower-like structures in his kitchen. "#Home Chilling + Treated The Crib LoL #SmellsGooooood" he tweeted alongside this photo. Scott Cuthbert, however, was having none of it, replying, "the crib? Ure not an american rapper lad!" Quite.

Statto corner... When Leyton Orient decided to change their name to just Orient in 1966 they took to the pitch for their first home of the season against Scunthorpe with just eight players, as three new signings had got on the wrong bus at Stratford. "There was no clue in the name," said confused centre-half John "Snedders" Sneddon.

29 September 2012

Leyton Orient 0 Doncaster Rovers 2, 29/9/12

A game in which... Orient looked about as comfortable as John Terry at an Afro-Caribbean poetry night. Yes, the away team were physical and niggly but fair play to them - they took their chances and restricted Orient to vague attempts at defying the laws of physics by expecting Kevin Lisbie to out-jump their gargantuan centre backs.

And while one loss in the last five isn't a major cause for alarm, it's certainly true Orient didn't have any answers to Doncaster's approach. Unless you count bringing on Marc Laird, and if that's the answer then the question must be held under lock and key at Fort Knox in case anyone ever tries to ask it again.

Moment of magic... The moment when Lee Cook - whose meticulous preparation for the game had presumably involved repeatedly running full pelt into an 8ft brick wall - decided to change tack. His novel approach involved sitting on the floor and pirouetting with the ball sandwiched between his feet as if he was involved in some sort of student ice-breaking game in Freshers' Week. Next up: Ryan Brunt tries to bamboozle the Walsall defence by wearing a traffic cone on his head and initiating a round of Spin The Bottle.  

Moment of madness... David Cotterill's ridiculous attempt to try to get Dean Cox sent off at the end of the game, falling to the floor clutching his face like an attention-seeking teenage schoolgirl upset that her eight-year-old sister had just upstaged her at a talent show.

Knight in shining armour.... It was hard for any Orient player to shine when standing within 300 yards of Dean Saunders' suit, but Nathan Clarke didn't have a bad game and Kevin Lisbie did about as much as could be expected of someone being repeatedly attacked by a vicious herd of giraffes.

Pantomime horse... Leyton Orient and referee Nigel Miller have history, for it was the Durham-born official who was in charge for the club's notorious 1-1 draw with Leeds in 2007. Miller's performance that day was so inept that manager Martin Ling nearly blew a gasket. ("I was so furious that I looked at him a little bit disapprovingly at the end of the game," he said at the time.) Today the referee wasn't much better and hindered Orient's cause with a series of decisions that caused so much head-scratching it was like a plague of lice had descended upon Brisbane Road.

In the dug out... "We weren't bright," said Russell Slade after the game, though if you field a team containing Jimmy Smith you're hardly likely to secure a discounted group membership to Mensa. Fair play to the manager, in recent weeks he has hit upon a Plan A ("Try and get a throw in so Clarkey can launch it into the mixer") but Plan B ("Bring on Odubajo, then try and get a throw in so Clarkey can launch it into the mixer") probably needs a bit of work.

Word from the opposition... "We played very well today, one of our best performances of the season," says Donny fan Kieran O'Malley. "Orient had a poor first half but a slightly better second half, with a small spell of chances - but didn't make anything of them. Not great really, though I thought the referee was a bit dodgy at times."

Meanwhile on Twitter... Never let it be said that Orient players aren’t multi-talented - today, for example, David Mooney was spotted reading the match programme and breathing at the same time. But few could match the skills of Lee Cook who can run for 60 minutes of a game and put away culinary delights like the one he tweeted here. “I no your jealous! :)” he wrote before tucking into his meal. Or throwing up over it – it’s hard to tell the difference.

Statto corner... The last time the average height of an Orient team exceeded that of their opponents was in April 1955 when Pat Welton and Les Blizzard came up with the cunning wheeze of nailing three inches of MDF to the bottom of their boots in a bid to gain advantage over Newport County.

18 September 2012

Leyton Orient 4 Yeovil Town 1, 18/9/12

A game in which... Russell Slade proved this joker wrong: "It's antiquated to think football is simply a 4-4-2 system. The game has changed. It's not like that now." (Russell Slade, Leyton Orientear, August 2012) Yes, what a joy it was to see an Orient side bristling with energy, purpose and attacking intent - and playing two up front at home. Sure, the approach was direct, but the intensity repeatedly left the Yeovil defence as exposed as a topless princess in a private French chateau.

Moment of magic... An incredible five-minute spell of showboating towards the end of the game which featured a Jimmy Smith backheel, a couple of Moses Odubajo stepovers and no less than three - yes, three - attempts on goal by substitute David Mooney, only one of which ballooned towards the corner flag. Less the Harlem Globetrotters, though, more the Leyton Cheap Day Return To Canvey Islanders.

Moment of madness... Ryan Brunt's over-exuberant celebration of Kevin Lisbie's goal, resulting in a need for medical assistance. What's he going to do if David Mooney scores - lop his own leg off with a chainsaw?

Knight in shining armour... So impressive was the Orient performance tonight that pretty much the whole team could stake a claim to the man of the match award. Allsop, Chorley, Griffith, Lisbie, Brunt and Smith were all particularly good, but let's focus on Dean Cox. Playing on the left in the second half he repeatedly got on the ball and created opportunities by cutting inside - much as he did throughout the 2010/11 season. Which begs the question as to why Slade persisted with playing him in the middle for so long, a decision akin to convincing Al Pacino to star in an amateur dramatic production of The Mousetrap, only to assign him the role of the corpse.

Pantomime horse... No bad performances from any of the Orient team tonight, but one-time Premier League referee Keith Stroud made up for it with a series of increasingly bizarre decisions, not least his denial of an Orient penalty when Nathan Ralph brought Ryan Brunt to the ground with all the finesse of an inebriated Somerset farm hand attacking a love rival with an oversized scythe.

In the dug out... When Yeovil pulled the score back to 2-1 just after half-time it looked for a moment as if we might be heading for a repeat of last season's soul-destroying capitulation to the Somerset side. But, fair play to Russell, he had a smile on his face tonight, so either everything was going to plan or Kevin Dearden was reworking his much-loved comedy routine of repeatedly breaking wind and then pointing at Marc Laird accusingly.

View from the opposition... "Orient passed the ball well and really capitalised on some poor Yeovil defending," says Glovers fan Sheridan Robins. "Your number nine always looked a threat and we failed to deal with him. Orient looked a better side than last season but if Yeovil had scored when on top at 2-1 I think it would have been a different story as your heads would have dropped."

Meanwhile on Twitter... Os fans could do far worse than following Lee Cook. The diminutive winger mixes incisive analysis of celebrity women - "Kelly Brook #withoutthembangersyouwouldworkindixons" and "Mila kunis looks as ropey as shit in the papers today!", for example -  with horrifying tales of mowing down innocent animals in Essex: "Bare road kill in woodford! So far 2 squirrels and a rabbit in a pickle!" It's like George Porter meets Ray Mears.

Statto corner... Tonight Orient amassed more shots on goal in a single game than they managed throughout the entire 2011/12 season.

14 September 2012

Leyton Orient 1 Brentford 0, 13/9/12

A game in which... Orient ground out a win so ugly that even if it were the only girl in Faces nightclub, Gants Hill, Jimmy Smith would still be reluctant to crack on to it. By Christ it's going to be a long season if this is the only way we're going to pick up points, and there are some serious questions about our ability to actually string any meaningful attacks together.

But let's focus on the positives: the defence held firm for a second consecutive clean sheet; the midfield wasn't totally overrun and the goalkeeper didn't get injured. Rejoice.

Moment of magic... A goal born on the practice pitches of Stoke City Football Club, in which Potters loanee Ryan Brunt got on the end of a scramble after a long throw into the mixer from Rory Delap... sorry, Nathan Clarke. But, hey, Orient aren't going to score from many exquisite lobs, bicycle kicks or 28-pass moves this season so lap it up while you can.

Moment of madness... When Premier League referee Phil Dowd prevented what would have been a certain failed attempt at goal when he stumbled into Gary Sawyer like an embarrassingly drunk uncle at a wedding staggering onto his feet to dance to Rihanna's Umbrella while shouting "I've still fucking got it!" Thanks Phil.

Knight in shining armour... Anthony Griffith put in something of a performance today and proved that he could well combine the skills of a slightly less good Stephen Dawson, a slightly less good Matthew Spring and a slightly less good six-foot garden fence. A slightly better Solomon Taiwo, in other words.

Just beat Michael Symes to the ball
Pantomime horse... Michael Symes. Now, [adopts Bernard Manning voice] I'm not saying that the 28-stone beefcake is immobile, [clears throat] but I'm sure I saw him overtaken by a glacier at one point. [taps microphone] Joking aside, the striker was repeatedly outjumped, outrun, out-thought and out to lunch. Ryan Brunt to start against Yeovil.

In the dug out... It's taken over 50 games, but for the first time in about 18 months Orient actually played better after Russell Slade's half-time team talk rather than worse. Not so much a rocket up their arse, but at least a small, barely flickering indoor firework. This is progress.

Word from the opposition... "I thought that we dominated the game," says Ryan Donovan of Life On The Bee Roads blog, not unreasonably. "The team showed that they are comfortable with the ball and have the ability to pass teams to death. Unfortunately the finishing just wasn't up to much has been apparent all season. Douglas, Forshaw and Forrester best players for us tonight. Unfortunate to come away without anything to show. Orient were a bit scrappy but Cox looked handy as did your number 8."

Meanwhile on Twitter... Welcome to Twitter ex-Orient skipper John Mackie! The big defender-turned-greengrocer uses the social network for an entertaining mix of football banter - "Come on the Os! Fucking liven up" - market-related pleas for help - "Looking for any unique mens or ladies clothing to sell on busy camden st stall" - and outright abuse: "The FA should also ban steve Evans from eating anymore food aswell!the fat horrible c*nt". Most touchingly, however, John provides restaurant advice to former celebrity females, as shown in this reply to Lisa Snowdon. Sadly Lisa is yet to visit the fruit stall. Or reply.

Statto corner... So far 100% of Orient's goals this season have come from set pieces. But this team have a long way to go to beat the squad of 1994/95, who maintained this record for 46 games, albeit through scoring only three goals the entire season, all of which came from the head of Colin West.

09 September 2012

Book review: Orientation by Adam Michie

Some of us are forced to support Orient by sadistic relatives. Some of us accidentally ended up with a season ticket through geographical convenience before we were old enough to know better. Some of us are presumably saddled with the Os as some sort of karmic retribution for hideous crimes committed in a past life. 

But few Orient fans actually chose to be so of their own volition - especially if they already support a decent Premier League team. But Adam Michie, author of the new book Orientation did exactly that.

Spurs fan Adam had become disillusioned with the Premier League and frustrated that his support of the club wasn't shared by his friends. Seeking a more collective experience, he and a handful of mates agreed over what presumably must have been enough alcohol to kill a herd of mammoths that they would buy a Brisbane Road season ticket.

Fortuitously for them that season was 2010/11, and the book follows the Os through the highlights of that wonderful nine months: the FA Cup run; Jonathan Tehoue's goal against Arsenal; Ryan Jarvis's last-gasp winner against Peterborough; Paul-Jose M'poku's goal against Oldham and many more.

For reliving those great moments, the book is worth a read. But over and above that it's a warm, witty and entertaining tale that will resonate with any football fan - the highs, the lows, the loved one that doesn't understand why you absolutely have to be at a Johnstone Paint Trophy replay on a freezing Tuesday night. (One mid-argument line in particular will resonate with many fans: "The dates of football fixtures were not my fault.")

Incredibly, even after last season Adam remains an Orient fan. The club has put him through a lot. At least do him the favour of buying his excellent book.

Orientation by Adam Michie is available from Chequered Flag Publishing

Follow Adam on Twitter

02 September 2012

Crawley Town 1 Leyton Orient 0, 1/9/12

A game in which... Russell Slade's starting line up didn't just throw caution to the wind, it recklessly cast it into the eye of a hurricane. Three wingers. Yep, three wingers - count 'em: Cook, Cox, Obudajo - took to the field and helped Orient create a bit of bustle in the first half, to the point that we actually had a single shot on target. In the context of the last six months, this is something to be celebrated.

Unfortunately by the second half the manager had reverted to type, deploying what looked like a narrow 4-1-1-1-1-1 formation located entirely in our own penalty area, inviting Crawley to repeatedly attack until eventually - and inevitably - they scored.

Moment of magic... One sumptuous run from Moses Obudajo in the first half caused a momentary stir among the Orient fans, but only in the same sense as someone forced to endure all 28 Jennifer Lopez films back to back may get a mild kick when Bob Hoskins briefly turns up in Maid In Manhattan.

Moment of madness... The point in the second half when keeper Ryan Allsop - who'd played reasonably well until then - mistimed his run to the edge of the box to allow Nicky Ajose a shot at an open goal (which he somehow missed). Now, I'm sure there must be more to coach Kevin Dearden's job than collecting the cones at the end of training and eating jam doughnuts, but of the 38 goalkeepers who have turned out for Orient in the last season or two, he appears to have actually made 37 of them worse.

Knight in shining armour... Ben Chorley did a fine job of keeping ex-O Gary Alexander quiet - if only he could silence him on Twitter - throughout the match. Indeed, the former Tranmere man reminded fans that when he's not scouring the pitch looking to scapegoat someone for stealing a squeeze from his shampoo bottle he's actually a pretty solid defender.

Pantomime horse... Unequivocally the manager himself. God only knows what Russell says to his teams at half-time - I'm guessing: "Do exactly what you're already doing, lads, only slightly less badly" - but he seems to have an amazing ability to turn an average performance into an abysmal one in the space of 15 minutes.

In the dug out... Like Stone Roses fans who stayed loyal to the band despite the shambles that was sophomore album The Second Coming, Orient supporters were extremely patient with Russell Slade throughout the disaster of 2011/12 because of what the manager achieved the previous season. But now, with three wins and three draws from the last 20 league matches, that patience has worn as thin as the non-financial reasons behind the reunion of Ian, John, Mani and Reni.

Word from the opposition... Crawley fan Warren Lucy of The Goalmouth Scramble blog says: "Scrappy game, draw was probably the right result but you did feel there would be a goal from somewhere. Orient huffed and puffed but didn't really have a lot of chances. Felt we just edged it. Both teams played poorly."

Meanwhile on Twitter... "Don't listen to the haterz" tweeted Gary Alexander last time he faced Orient, before spending the next 48 hours meticulously trawling through his mentions column, retweeting anything mildly critical then crying non-stop for two solid weeks. This time round the former Brisbane Road striker displayed a bit more maturity - bringing him up to the mental age of 13 - and diplomatically tweeted "Sometimes it wasn't pretty but 3 points #buzzing play bad and win were take that."

Statto corner... Russell Slade has now employed the phrase "we just need a bit more belief" in post-match interviews over 7000 times, setting a new Guinness world record for delusion.

26 August 2012

Leyton Orient v Hartlepool: The game that never was 25/8/12

Here's me on Sports Tonight Live talking about the Hartlepool no-show:

Leyton Orient: Best ever No9s

This season the Football League has appointed Prostate Cancer UK as its official charity. To celebrate the partnership, Prostate Cancer UK has asked bloggers from each of the 72 Football League clubs to select the top five players to have worn the iconic No9 shirt.

Why the number nine shirt? It's in recognition of the fact that prostate cancer will affect one in nine men

These were my top five Leyton Orient No9s. (Plus one to forget!)

You can also see who my fellow bloggers selected as their top five No9s

18 August 2012

Tranmere Rovers 3 Leyton Orient 1, 18/8/12

A game in which… Orient 2012/13 did a pretty good impression of a football team. Unfortunately that football team was Orient 2011/12. Yes, this was a performance that picked off where last season ended: idea-less in the opponents’ half, susceptible in defence and lacking in cutting edge.

So while the gritty 6ft-plus ballwinners added to the team at least gives us a bit of bite in midfield, without any playmakers (like Matthew Spring) or someone to carry the ball forward (like Stephen Dawson), our ability to unlock an opposition defence is akin to a gang of safecrackers who turn up at Fort Knox armed with nothing but a feather duster and a blancmange.

Moment of magic… Slim pickings here, but let’s go for Michael Symes, who by the looks of him has never had slim pickings of anything in his life. Still, the former Rochdale man did at least convert the soft penalty awarded to Orient as a consolation.

Moment of madness… Tranmere’s decision to excessively time-waste when 3-0 up when they could quite easily have scored a hatful more. Hope you don’t miss out on the play-offs on goal difference, lads!

Knight in shining armour… Until he got injured, Scott Cuthbert was holding the defence together like a valiant firefighter putting out a raging inferno with his own bare hands while those around him flapped around aimlessly firing toy water pistols and throwing cups of Ribena.

Pantomime horse… No, not David Mooney today, but new right back Lloyd James. The new signing spent the first half hour repeatedly gifting the ball to the opposition as if he was in some sort of Olympic-inspired pageant-swapping ritual in which Tranmere refused to take part. Worse still, for the home side’s first goal right back Zoumana Bakayogo didn’t so much as leave him for dead, but battered him over the head with a blunt instrument and dumped him in the Wirral.

In the dug out… Kevin Nugent: “Hey Russ, we’re 2-0 down with 25 minutes to go and things don’t seem to be working – reckon we should change things round a bit? Maybe make a substitution? Perhaps bring on one of the two strikers you’ve only just signed?” Russell Slade: “That’s the sort of kneejerk tactical naivety I’d expect from you, Nuge. If big Clarko can stuff one in the mixer and big Moono can get on the… oh, they’ve scored again.”

Opposition view… Tranmere fan Paul Harper says, politely: “I thought Tranmere dominated for 70 minutes and played some good stuff. We scored three very good goals. Orient looked lacklustre until the final 20 minutes. They stepped it up at the end and threw people forward, but it was too little too late.”

Meanwhile on Twitter… Terrible news for Jimmy Smith when - as this picture he tweeted shows - he became stuck in a massage chair in an M1 service station for 27 hours and was thus unable to play in today's game. What - he was playing?! Did anyone see him? Did he do anything? 

Statto corner… This was Orient’s 26th consecutive opening-day defeat, the last victory coming in 1986 when Terry Howard bamboozled the Brentford defence by wandering on to the pitch unnoticed 38 minutes into the game having been persuaded to watch ‘one last race’ at Walthamstow Dogs. 

15 August 2012

Capital One Cup: Charlton 1 Leyton Orient 1 (3-4 pens), 14/8/12

A game in which... It appeared that Russell Slade's summer transfer activity had involved popping down to the Olympic Park to offer contracts to members of the Ukrainian weightlifting team. Yes, this was a different Orient that took to the field from seasons past, one apparently chiselled from local granite and lining up in a new formation known as 4-4-GET-IT-IN-THE-FUCKING-MIXER.

But, hey, no complaints - as the game wore on it became apparent this was an Orient team prepared to slug out a result instead of running home to mummy to tell tales on the big kid who wouldn't give their ball back. And if this is what it takes to avoid another season of relegation dogfighting, then I'll drink a protein shake to that.

Moment of magic... Ryan Brunt's winning penalty, coolly slotted into the corner and continuing the fine recent tradition of British teenagers excelling themselves in east London. Expect him to buy a Ferrari Maranello and tout himself to Barcelona within days.

Moment of madness... The decision to let David Mooney take Orient's second-half penalty, the equivalent of an Olympic gymnastics team manoeuvring themselves into a gold medal-winning position and then handing the responsibility of their final balance beam routine to Boris Johnson.

Knight in shining armour... There were a few encouraging performances from the Orient new boys, including skipper Nathan Clarke, midfielder Anthony Griffith and left back Gary Sawyer. But Mathieu Baudry, playing in the holding role and scoring Orient's equalising goal, probably edged it, taking to the game with all the apparent relish of a Frenchman to a horse sandwich.

Pantomime horse... It's that man David Mooney again, who put in a performance of such jaw-dropping ineptitude that if he were an Olympic badminton player then he'd have been banned for deliberately trying to throw the game. The mind truly boggles as to what Slade sees in the Irishman, but his latest catalogue of ballooned misses, poor decision-making and the loss of possession that led directly to Charlton's goal is surely going to relegate him to the bench for Saturday? Please?

In the dug out... So it looks like Russell Slade's got his mojo back and has spent the summer coming up with a clear tactical plan for the season rather than looking wistfully at photos of Barnsley's famous Gateway Plaza shopping complex. That tactical plan is apparently to catapult the ball into the opposition's penalty area via the long throws of Nathan Clarke at every available opportunity. Still, it's got more chance of success than expecting Marc Laird to deftly weight a ball into the path of Jamie Cureton.

Opposition view... Charlton fan Sam Morton says, rather generously: "I think the result was fair to be honest. Some of your players impressed me, mainly Dean Cox who looks a tidy player. I'd also like to applaud your support as it's probably the best I've seen from you."

Meanwhile on Twitter... There's rich pickings this season on Twitter, with a good many of Orient's new crop choosing this as their preferred vehicle for 'banter'. Let's focus first on Mathieu Baudry - @mathbaudry5 - who describes himself as 'Leyton Orient's player' and was thus probably quite surprised to see 10 other people take the pitch in the same colour shirt as him. "forget tennistable and badmington... Juts give medals to china and win time" he tweeted during the Olympics, no doubt causing Gary Lineker to fear for his job. More poignantly, during the closing ceremony he issued a plaintive cry for an absent friend: "where is susan boyle? #britishicone"

Statto corner... Mathieu Baudry's equaliser was Orient's first goal from a set piece since 2001, when a Dean Smith free kick heading towards the corner flag cannoned in off Scott Houghton's backside.

22 July 2012

Matt Lockwood on Orient's promotion season 2005/06

Left-back, penalty specialist and Orient legend Matt Lockwood was a key part of the side that achieved promotion from League Two in spectacular fashion six years ago.

Here he looks back on that wonderful season of 2005/06...

“Every season you start off thinking this is going to be your year. But Orient fans think that the team will chuck it away at the end, that we’ll do something wrong. Even in that last game of 2005/06 at Oxford I bet all the fans were expecting us to go and lose! You just get used to slipping up at the last hurdle.

But from the players’ point of view we were really confident that year. I don’t think the league was the best that season - there weren’t that many decent teams in it.

The FA Cup run [Orient got to the fourth round before narrowly losing to Charlton] was a massive help. It gave us the confidence. When we were drawn against Fulham in the third round we thought it was brilliant that we’d got a Premier League club away, but you worry you could get tonked.

But when we got to Craven Cottage the team sheet came through and we looked at it and thought, hang on, they’ve got quite a few out, we’ve got a chance here. We had the same team we’d been playing all year.

Before the game started, in the warm up, I asked a mate in the crowd if he’d put a bet on. He said yes, so I said ‘I’d go and double it if I were you.’ I really fancied us. I don’t know why. And we started off doing really well and I honestly think we deserved that win. We were the better team. That was just fantastic. It was such a shock for the footballing world.

After the game my phone didn’t stop. People couldn’t believe it. There was a sense of pride - we were a League Two team and we’d gone to a Premier League club and beaten them. Then we got rewarded with another Premier League club away in the next round, Charlton.

I thought we played really well that day. We had loads of chances. When we went 1-0 down I thought, ‘Oh, we can get spanked’, but then we came back with Steelo’s goal. And just as I was thinking we could hang on for a draw they go and get a spawny, deflected goal in the last minute.

But the FA Cup run definitely helped us. It made us think that if we could beat these teams, and take Charlton to 90 minutes, then we can go and beat anyone.

I think if you’re winning games then winning becomes a habit and we were definitely in a winning habit that year. Even when we weren’t playing that well we were grinding out results. Like Mansfield away, that was a big one. That’s not the easiest place to go. We won 1-0 with a penalty. We learnt how to do that.

Peterborough at home [The penultimate game of the season] was a tough one. It’s never easy. When Paul Connor got sent off I thought to myself, oh no, that’s our chance gone. But then Wayne Corden scored a goal to put us 2-0 up. It seemed like every time Grimsby slipped up we were there with the result we needed to get into the final promotion spot.

We were on a run where we’d kept seven clean sheets in a row at home, and we were more gutted that we let that slip in letting in a goal. [Peterborough scored a late goal; Orient won the game 2-1] The back four we had was solid every week. We got used to playing together. We were proud of that record.

Going into the Oxford game we knew what we had to do. The atmosphere there was amazing. The number of Orient fans that turned up was fantastic. It wasn’t an enjoyable game, though, because of the pressure on it. Because there was so much at stake. It was a case of, yes we want to go and win it, but you don’t want to make a mistake, you don’t want to be the one that loses the game.

When we went 2-1 up I thought Oxford have got to go now, they’ve got to give up. But they didn’t, they scored again. And at 2-2 I was thinking, ‘Oh no.’ We knew Grimsby were 1-0 up. Martin shouted out to us: ‘Grimsby are winning, we’ve got to go and score.’ So I went out to the lads and said, ‘We’ve got to get one.’

I was just running around in a daze thinking I just want to score, let’s just win. You’re this close. Five minutes away from promotion and you can celebrate or you’re five minutes away from having three weeks of pressure in the play-offs.

Oxford had a man sent off for tangling with John Mackie off the ball. Mackie was good like that. He’d stamp on someone’s foot, they’d retaliate then he’d dive on the floor holding his face. He’d laugh about it afterwards.

But I thought it had slipped away. I was gutted. I was thinking, ‘Not the play offs again.’ Having had the heartache of the play-offs before I didn’t want to go through that again. We definitely wouldn’t have gone up if we’d had to go through the play-offs. I don’t think we would have been able to lift ourselves again for those three games. So you have to keep believing, you don’t want to give up.

Then we heard the fans all cheer so straight away we knew that Northampton must have equalised. And then Steelo broke and scored the winner – there were about five of us in the box waiting to score because we were so desperate to make sure we went through. But it was fitting that Steelo was the one who scored the goal. The fans loved him. 

Once Steelo scored the relief was unbelievable. We all just piled on each other. We ran over in front of the fans and all the subs just sprinted across the pitch to celebrate. I got caught under the pile and I couldn’t breathe, I thought I was going to die! I literally had to push everyone off. There’s a picture of me crawling out on my hands and knees.

When the final whistle went, that was my best moment at Orient. Eight years prior to that I came to the club because I thought that I we were going to get promotion. So it took long enough to get it but I got it in the end. That’s what I wanted and it was definitely worth the wait.

After the game we went back to the Marriot Hotel just off the M25 at Waltham Abbey where we always dropped our cars off. Loads of fans were knocking about all congratulating us. We ended up going to Faces nightclub in Gants Hill – Eddie Hearn took us out.

But I only stayed out for a little bit. After all the euphoria of it all I was knackered. I’d had such a good day. It must have only been about midnight – and I don’t drink. I just said that’s me done. Go home, enjoy it. I put Sky Sports News on to see all the celebrations.

I felt proud that day. You go and beat Fulham and it’s a one off. But you get promoted, it’s 46 games, a whole season of doing well. That was a really good feeling. Everyone involved with the club can look back on that day and say it was an amazing season and it couldn’t have finished on a better day. It was definitely my favourite moment in my Orient career.”

Read more about Matt's time at Orient in my book Leyton Orient Greats
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