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.

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