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. 

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