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.
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