04 January 2012

Top 10 Brisbane Road moments of 2011

Though Robin Van Persie apologists may disagree, football runs in seasons, not calendar years.

Nonetheless, 2011 hasn't been a bad year for Os fans, featuring a 13-match unbeaten run, memorable victories over the likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Charlton, an FA Cup odyssey that culminated in a famous draw against Arsenal at Brisbane Road and, of course, the departure of Ryan Jarvis.

Here, then, are my top 10 moments of the year...

10. Ince goes off the boil   
Leyton Orient 2 Notts County 0, 5 March 2011

Orient's dream FA Cup run had come to end three days before this fixture and as such it wouldn't have been a surprise to see the players exhibiting the sort of humdinging hangover that used to regularly accompany Sean Thornton to training sessions. But not so: the Os put in a professional and convincing performance to ease past Notts County, which so incensed their manager Paul Ince that he was moved to throw his half-time tea over Kevin Dearden and offer him out. Presumably if the Os' goalkeeping coach had taken him up on his offer, Ince would have bottled it at the last minute and sent Gareth Southgate to fight him instead.

9. The Beast bites back   
Leyton Orient 3 Exeter 0, 10 December 2011

Jonathan Tehoue spent so much time digging Orient out of holes last season that he could easily forge a new career as a miner if it wasn't for all the actual hard work involved. After a hand injury had kept him out for the opening part of the season the French striker reminded fans why he's such an important player to have on the bench. With the Os 1-0 up but the game far from over, he trundled up the pitch and nodded in Kevin Lisbie's cross with his very first touch of the game.

8. George's greased lightning  
Leyton Orient 3 Bromley 0, 12 November 2011

Not since the days when Martin Ling would sprint towards his phone whenever a striker over the height of 5ft 6in came on the market has Brisbane Road been witness to any true bursts of speed. Enter George Porter, who showed what he's capable of against non-league Bromley by simply knocking the ball his ahead of himself near the halfway line, then continuing his blistering charge all the way to goal to put Orient 2-0 up.

7. Butcher shows his guts!   
Leyton Orient 2 Preston North End 1, 1 October 2011

The fact that Orient - having failed to win a single one of their first 10 league fixtures of the season - were leading Preston 2-1 at half-time was a miracle enough in itself. But when the Lilywhites were awarded a spot kick in the second half fans would have been less surprised to see Lee Butcher part the Red Sea, feed the five thousand and raise Lazarus from the dead than actually save Graham Alexander's penalty. Butch had just let in 14 consecutive spot kicks in a shoot out against Dagenham & Redbridge; Alexander is one of football's most deadly 12-yard bandits. But save it he did, giving Orient the platform to go on and record their first victory of the season.

6. Lis is more!   
Leyton Orient 1 Sheffield United 1, 22 October 2011

Orient have a lot of difficulty winning games with 11 players on the pitch, so when it's 10 against 12 they really have very little chance of getting a result. Yes, referee Oliver Langford certainly didn't make things easy after a series of decisions so nonsensical that they could easily have been mistaken for the plot of Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. All hail Kevin Lisbie, then, who tucked a loose ball away in the sixth minute of added time to snatch a point for the Os and send Brisbane Road into delirium.

5. M'Poku rocket rocks Latics   
Leyton Orient 1 Oldham 0, 12 March 2011

By March, Orient were eight points off the play-offs with four games in hand, but were finding it hard to break down a resilient Oldham side. With 10 minutes to go Russell Slade turned to his bench and realised that he'd accidentally left his best player out of the side for the 15th consecutive week. But no matter, for Spurs loanee Paul-Jose M'Poku only needed a few minutes to work his magic, and with a Shazam! and an Abracadabra! unleashed an unstoppable strike with the outside of his boot that gave Orient three invaluable points at the death.

4. Great Scott! Four-star Os overrun Owls  
Leyton Orient 4 Sheffield Wednesday 0, 22 January 2011

When one-time Premier League residents Sheffield Wednesday came-a-calling at Brisbane Road in January they faced an Orient side who'd only just hauled themselves out of the relegation zone. Alan Irvine's team talk probably went something like: "Don't exert yourselves too much lads, we've got some important games coming up. Just knock it around a bit and wait for their right back to spoon the ball into his own net." Unfortunately for the Owls they found themselves on the receiving end of an inspired performance by the home side, capped by veteran Scott McGleish's glancing header that sealed a deserved 4-0 victory.

3. Big Ben chimes time for Charlton  
Leyton Orient 1 Charlton Athletic 0, 31 December 2011

The final day of 2011 and there was something of a party spirit at Brisbane Road. No, the Peter Allen Cafe wasn't offering a free soup of the day (always tomato) with any purchase of a pizza pod, but rather Leyton Orient were giving league leaders Charlton the runaround. The fact that they'd only put away one of their countless chances meant a nervy final few minutes, but when Rhoys Wiggins looked to have equalised for the visitors big brave Ben Chorley was on hand to majestically block the shot on the line, allowing the Os to see in the New Year in style.

2. Jar-Jar sinks Peterborough 
Leyton Orient 2 Peterborough 1, 22 April 2011

Incredibly, with four games left of the 2010/11 season Orient were still in with a shout of reaching the play-offs, though a win against promotion-chasing Peterborough was essential to keep hopes alive. With ten minutes to go the scores were level and Russell Slade must have been ready to throw in the towel. Instead he threw in Ryan Jarvis, which was tantamount to the same thing. But in the sixth minute of injury time the former Norwich man - who'd hardly played a game all season - defied all known laws of the universe to rise majestically above the Peterborough defence to meet Jason Crowe's cross and nod the Os to victory.

1. Tehoue shoots down Gunners
Leyton Orient 1 Arsenal 1, 20 February 2011

Arsene Wenger has an encyclopedic knowledge of French football, but even he was unaware of a fellow countryman by the name of Jonathan Tehoue who once lumbered around the playing fields of Europe like an ailing ocean liner on one last voyage before being put out of commission. Tehoue found his home in east London and, for all his shortcomings over 90 minutes, there is no striker in the country deadlier from the bench - as Arsenal discovered to their cost when he scored in the 90th minute of the FA Cup fifth round tie. A packed Brisbane Road was rocked to its rafters.

Was 2011 as good as 2010? Take a look at the Top Ten Brisbane Road Moments of 2010 and decide...
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