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.
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