30 December 2013

Wolverhampton Wanderers 1 Leyton Orient 1, 29/12/13

Wolves' pre-match meal
A game in which... the paupers of Leyton just about scraped together enough cash to afford the bus fare to the Midlands to face the fat cats of Wolverhampton, a team so flushed with riches that they eat Alba truffles, beluga caviar and raw hard cash for their pre-match meal and receive payments from the Premier League specifically to buy parachutes. (That's right, isn't it?)

And yet in the second half - despite the fact the entire Orient squad now contains only 13 fit senior pros - it was the away side who were dominating and who looked more likely to win the game. An incredible achievement and yet again a testament to the sheer gutsy resolve of this brilliant team.

What's that? Oh, the first half. Well, Wolves could have been 28-0 up. But if you can't get the ball in the net with a strike force that costs more than the GDP of a medium-sized central European country, you've only got yourself to blame.

Moment of magic... The moment Mathieu Baudry inexplicably found himself in the opposition penalty area experiencing a typically French existential crisis. Just as the defender asked himself 'Why am I here?' the ball arrived at his feet via a sublime Moses Odubajo cross and he was able to tap the ball into the net. C'est pourquoi vous y etiez, Mathieu.

Moment of madness... The moment in the second half when an exposed Jake Larkins found the entire Wolverhampton team charging towards him, £50 notes fluttering from their pockets, after a botched Orient corner. His double save - first from Kevin MacDonald, then from the rebound at the feet of James Henry - was brilliant and epitomised what was for the most part a highly impressive performance by the youngster. 

Top gun... Sawyer, Omozusi, Cox, Simpson and Odubajo all impressed - and Lisbie worked tirelessly - but once again the man of the match was Nathan Clarke. In the first half his performance was that of the captain of a sinking ocean liner single-handedly trying to plug every leak while his terror-stricken crew mates throw themselves into lifeboats and get the hell out of there. He was immense. 

Mathieu Baudry
Little donkey... Putting aside his goal and a much-improved second-half performance, Mathieu Baudry was all over the place in the first half. Whereas once the Frenchman was a gallant musketeer picking off opponents with little more than an inquisitively-raised eyebrow, over the last few games he's been more of an inexperienced Parisian mime artist desperately failing to impress drunken tourists outside the Eiffel Tower. 

In the dug out... To be fair to Russell Slade, like a brothel owner in the midst of clap epidemic, he hasn't exactly got much to work with in terms of fit professionals. But interestingly Orient performed much better after Vincelot's injury forced a reshuffle. What's clear is that Omozusi and Odubajo is the most compelling combination on the right, and given that Sawyer is in good form Slade may have to bite the bullet and leave either Baudry or Cuthbert on the bench. Tough decision, probably made easier by the fact it's unlikely both of them will actually be fit at the same time anyway. 

View from the opposition... "You're just a bus stop in West Ham" chanted the 26,000 home fans in one of the more inventive taunts of Orient. Tweeter @wolves_gossip put it less wittily: "Awww poor Orient fans, they've never won anything and now they've drawn to us they think they've the best team in Europe." Well, no, but forgive us our pleasure for matching a club who pay substitute Kevin Doyle more to get his eyelashes waxed than we can afford to pay our entire squad put together. 

Tweet of the week.... I hate to do this to you, Os fans, but with good comes bad, with yin comes yang, and it is my solemn duty to report that ranting taxi driver, social commentator and one-time football manager John Sitton has, for reasons known only to him and the Devil, tweeted a photo of himself naked. If you're of a nervous disposition, look away now... 

27 December 2013

Gillingham 1 Leyton Orient 2, 26/12/13

Orient defend a corner
A game in which... due to suspensions, injuries, loss of form and excessive mince pies, Orient were forced to put out a team patched up with sticky tape, Blu-Tac and - worse - Marvin Bartley. No surprise, then, that they were 1-0 down after 0.4 seconds.

It went downhill from there - a missed penalty, more injuries, Marvin Bartley - and despite the fact that Gillingham were showing all the ambition of an X-Factor auditionee who hasn't even bothered to invent a tear-jerking back story, it looked like Orient would be going home pointless.

The fact that they ended up victorious is massive. Yes, champions win games even when they play badly, and it's a huge testament to the spirit and resolve in the camp at the moment that Orient were able to drag out three points from the very depths of footballing hell. (Ok, I'm exaggerating a little...) 

Moment of magic... A no-look, defence-splitting reverse pass by the immense Dean Cox which, had this been a Premier League match, would have been read perfectly by the likes of Luis Suarez or Sergio Aguero and resulted in a certain goal. As it was, it left a stunned Moses Odubajo standing stock still on the touchline looking back at Cox with an expression of bemused wonderment, almost as if he'd never seen a human man under 4ft 7in before.

Adebayo Akinfenwa
Moment of madness... Every single moment (there were lots of them, including Gillingham's goal) when Mathieu Baudry was outjumped by Adebayo Akinfenwa. Which is really quite a feat on Baudry's part given that the journeyman striker has all the spring in his step of a concrete tower block. Next week: Orient's bemused Frenchman loses a game of paper, scissors, stone to an oak tree.

Top gun... Larkins looked solid, Omozusi was good in the second half and Clarke had another decent game, but standing head and shoulders above everyone (figuratively speaking, obviously) was Dean Cox. Moved to the tip of a diamond in the second half, Tiny was everywhere and pretty much won the game for Orient through sheer force of will.

Marvin Bartley
Little donkey... Does Marvin Bartley's goal excuse all the skewed passes, poor positioning and mistimed tackles that populated the rest of his 90 minutes on the pitch? You might as well ask should we forgive Vlad the Impaler all the systematic torture on account of his luxuriant moustache? The answer is probably no.  

In the dug out... Credit to Russell for the tactical change in the second half (moving Cox into the middle), but what the hell was the manager doing giving Elliot Omozusi the responsibility of taking Orient's crucial penalty? True, the defender has converted a couple in shoot outs, but surely as a striker and senior pro Kevin Lisbie (who's only missed the one this season, against Crewe) shouldn't be hiding behind Adebayo Akinfenwa pretending to tie his shoelaces when so much is at stake. Our penalty record this season is appalling (we've missed four out of six in the league). Where's Matt Lockwood when you need him? 

View from the opposition... "Orient didn't deserve that! Shit team cheating diving tossers #robbed" wrote potty-mouthed Gillingham fan Shelley Brown. It's worth noting, however, that the Gills take to the pitch to the sound of Robbie Williams's Let Me Entertain You, a signature tune that on today's performance is about as appropriate as George Osbourne entering the next Conservative Party Conference to NWA's Straight Outta Compton.

Tweet of the week... Well done to eagle-eyed Dean Cox, who noticed that Romain Vincelot appears to have had his shirt number emblazoned onto his £7.99 Primark high-tops, Cristiano Ronaldo-style. Expect the French midfielder to launch his own range of underwear and open a museum to himself in the coming weeks. 

24 December 2013

"I knew that I was always going to score" - Matt Lockwood on taking penalties

Matt scores against Carlisle on 19 August 2000.
Once upon a time Orient fans could rest easy in the knowledge that should their team ever be awarded a penalty, nine times out of ten it would result in a goal. 

That’s thanks to Matt Lockwood, the most ruthlessly clinical spot-kicker in the club’s history. The left back scored 36 out of the 40 penalties he took during his nine-year spell at Brisbane Road from 1998-2007.

Here he explains how he did it…

“The first penalty I took for Orient was in the shoot out at the end of the play-off semi-final against Rotherham in 1999. As a kid I used to take them, but I’d never taken one as a pro. But I knew I was going to nominate myself.

We hadn’t practised penalties before the game – Tommy Taylor used to say there’s no point because you can’t recreate the pressure. He’d say, ‘Just go up and pick a spot.’ I was set to take the fourth penalty, but when it got to me Scott Barrett had already saved two. So I knew I had to score mine to win. The pressure was off because even if I’d have missed we had one more where we could have scored to go through.

I knew what I was going to do, I knew what corner I was going in before I’d even run up to take it. I knew I was going to score.

After that, Tommy said to me, ‘I like the way you took that, you were very cool. Do you want to be on them?’ And I said definitely. So I was on them for the play-off final and I’ve been on them ever since.

Cat and mouse

I never practise taking penalties. Tommy just said to me ‘You don’t miss, so don’t practice.’ I just go and take it. Pick your spot and stick it in. But I don’t like taking penalties. Well, maybe that’s not the right wording, but it’s not a nice feeling because the pressure is on the player to score not on the goalkeeper to save it.

Scoring against Lincoln on 16 October 1999
And you’re playing cat and mouse against the keepers because after a while everyone knew who I was, so I always had to mix it up and change it. That season we went up we had some big, high pressure penalties – Peterborough at home, Mansfield away. But I was never going to let anyone else take them because I wouldn’t have trusted them.

Carl Griffiths actually nicked two penalties off me when he came back to the club in 1999. It was the home game against Chester City and we got awarded one in the first half. He sprinted up to the ball, so I said to him, ‘What do you think you’re doing?’ And he said, ‘Oh go on, let me take it, I haven’t scored since I’ve been back.’ And I thought, oh God, you’ve got to handle forwards with care to get their confidence up so I told him he could have that one.

He scored it and got another goal, then we were awarded another penalty in the second half when he was on a hat-trick. So I had to let him have that one too. But after the game I said to him, ‘That’s it, you’re not having any more.’ And he agreed. He said he’d take his hat-trick and run.

Gary Alexander always used to say to me that if I missed one more he was on them. I said, ‘Gal, you’re never going to be on them.’ He’d say, ‘Imagine how many goals I’d score if I took all the penalties as well. I’d be right at the top of the scoring charts every year.’ But I just said ‘You wouldn’t score them.’ And he wouldn’t. He just would not have scored every one.

Missing hurts

I ended up scoring 36 out of 40 penalties for Orient. And I remember all the ones I missed. The first one was in the first game of the 2001/02 season, against Cheltenham away. As I placed the ball I didn’t know which way to go and I knew I was going to miss. I hit a lame effort down the middle, quite slow and the keeper got a foot to it. He hadn’t dived far enough out of the way, and it came straight back to me and I scored the rebound.

The second was away at Carlisle on a Tuesday night in the 2002/03 season. We were 3-0 down in the last minute and the keeper saved it.

Then the next season I missed one against Cambridge at home on the last day. I took a penalty and scored it then the referee made me take it again because their players were in the box. I knew the keeper was going to dive the same way that I’d gone the first time, so I should have dinked it down the middle. But I thought I’m going to put it in exactly the same place and prove that he can’t get it, prove that the first one wasn’t a fluke. And I just miskicked it slightly and gave him a chance to save it. I was more gutted that I bottled dinking it down the middle.

The last one was in the promotion season against Darlington at home. I slipped. Just as I went to take it my standing foot just went and I scuffed it into the ground. I don’t think the keeper even needed to catch it. He just controlled it with his feet.

Taking penalties has been a massive part of my career. I expect to score every time I take one. I knew that I was always gone to score.”

Read the full story of Matt's time at Orient in my book Leyton Orient Greats

Also read:  Matt Lockwood on Orient's promotion season 2005/06 and that game at Oxford... 
Tommy Taylor on his time as manager of Orient 

22 December 2013

Leyton Orient 2 Crawley Town 3, 21/12/13

A game in which... Crawley proved they are so much more than Orient's bogey team - more like a huge, festering globule of mucus stuck up the nasal cavity of League One. No offence, hey, because in fact the West Sussex side were worth the three points.

So Orient aren't hitting the heights of their early season form of late - no victories in the last four league games - but then again we'll be top of the league on 25 December. And back in August, even if the news emerged that Santa had developed a debilitating addiction to crystal meth, no one would have expected the bearded fella to deliver a gift like that to Brisbane Road on Christmas Day. 

Moment of magic... Nathan Clarke's goal-line clearance from Nicky Adams' lob in the second half, a physics-defying block that prevented Crawley from going 4-1 up - a scoreline that would have been as hideously embarrassing as losing a pub quiz to a team comprising Jimmy Smith and three jellyfish.

Trevor Kettle
Moment of madness... The moment the young Trevor Kettle thought to himself: "Traffic warden? Nope. Ticket inspector? Nope. Debt collector? Nope. Supreme leader of North Korea? Nope. What I really need is a career where I can wield disproportionate amounts of power and ruin thousands of people's day at the same time. I know: referee!" And while he's not the reason Orient lost, Kettle's bookings of both Batt and Alexander, plus a bizarre drop ball after Lisbie was flattened, upheld his reputation as one of the worst officials in the whole history of the entire universe.  

Top gun... Excellent effort by the aforementioned Nathan Clarke today, and Scott Cuthbert was pretty impressive too, but let's take the time to hail an unsung hero: Gary Sawyer. Yes, the left back took the opportunity of Elliot Omozusi's suspension to remind fans that while he's no Matt Lockwood or Charlie Daniels, he's worth about four Billy Joneses, or 48 billion Danny Granvilles. 

Little donkey... "Worst I played for a long time" wrote Mathieu Baudry on Twitter shortly after the game, and it's true that by his own very high standards he had something of a shocker. He was directly responsible for Crawley's third goal after giving the ball away, missed three presentable headers from corners and his distribution was uncharacteristically sloppy. Still, we can't blame the Frenchman for everything: I'm pretty sure he wasn't involved in the Gallic invasion of Britain in 1797, and he's in no way culpable for the poor quality of the latest Daft Punk album. 

In the dug out... With both Mooney and Omozusi suspended, Russell Slade hardly needed any more bad news. But when Dean Cox was also ruled out for "toothache" - apparently sulking because the tooth fairy had forgotten to leave 50 pence under his pillow - the manager really had his work cut out. Still, we were always going to have a blip at some point and despite that we're still top of the league. And, remember: Slade's teams tend to improve after Christmas, which means promotion is still a realistic ambition.

View from the opposition... "What a result against top of the league. lads worked there socks off" wrote Nicky Adams after the game, scurrying around the conventions of grammar like the tricky winger he is. The one-time Orient loanee is right though: Crawley were better than the home side across the park. Given they have a 100 per cent record against us (beating Orient home and away in 2012/13) it may be easier if we just give them the six points at the start of each season and take the opportunity to rest key players.

Tweet of the week... "Are you sure it's my 30th? Can't be," wrote ex-Orient goalkeeper Glenn Morris to his own wife on Twitter this week, suggesting that for him birthdays are just as confusing as trying to kick a football vaguely in the direction of his team mates. 

Fact of the day... It's actually scientifically impossible for Orient to beat a team containing Gary Alexander. It's known in physics as "The Law of Fat-Ass". In fact the one-time Brisbane Road striker did everything you'd expect of him today: led the line brilliantly, caused a nuisance to the defence, missed a penalty, fluffed a sitter and fell to the ground screaming like an eight-year-old girl watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre every time he went up for a header.  

07 December 2013

FA Cup: Leyton Orient 1 Walsall 0, 7/12/13

A game in which... David Mooney undid what was a perfectly respectable afternoon of FA Cup football by getting himself sent off in the 93rd minute - the most pointless and stupid thing he's done since he passed the ball to Michael Symes during a game early last season.

That aside, the virus-stricken Orient side should be pretty pleased with themselves for prevailing over Walsall. Lemsips all round.

Moment of magic... Shaun Batt's incredible dummy in the lead-up to Dean Cox's goal, in which he managed to convince the Walsall defence, his own team mates, the entire crowd and a worldwide TV audience of 38 that he'd just done a hugely embarrassing air kick at a simple chance.

Moment of madness... Oh Moons. Why? WHY? Now banned for three games for a petulant kick at Paul Downing, the Irish striker hasn't so much as shot himself in the foot, but blown off his whole leg with a thermo-nuclear warhead. Genuinely, his rush of blood to the head could be season-defining. Let's hope he at least puts his time off to good use by learning the offside rule, hey?

Top gun... With half the team sidelined by man flu, we got see a bit more of Yohann Lasimant, Johnny Gorman and Harry Lee, all of whom made decent accounts of themselves. On the bench we had Martin Ling's son Sam, who's 13, and a bloke that works behind the bar in the Coach & Horses who once had a trial at Hastings United in 1993. Best player on the pitch, though, was Mathieu Baudry, who in his spare time inexplicably sellotapes an iPhone to his head and re-enacts scenes from the 1979 video nasty Driller Killer, as this photograph demonstrates.

Little donkey... Actually no one played particularly badly and, indeed, the victory was based on a very disciplined performance in defence and midfield. Let's instead focus, then, on the final seven seconds of the match in which Walsall managed to miss 47 clear chances to score, prompting one Saddlers fan to tweet "Please can you have one of your strikers? Any one. We aren't fussy." Yeah, have David Mooney, he's free for the next three games.

In the dug out... Given that Russell Slade's matchday duties mostly involve standing up for 90 minutes and shouting "watch the ball!" at Moses Odubajo a couple of times, he must have been pretty ill to have missed the game - especially as he only lives 45 seconds away. Perhaps he just looked at his own team sheet and thought, fuck this. Bizarrely he could be spotted on the balcony of his flat celebrating Cox's goal - surely a first in football?

View from the opposition... Walsall can probably consider themselves a bit unlucky - not least for Craig Westcarr's free kick which left Jamie Jones frozen to the spot for a full 45 seconds while the ball pinballed between him and the posts. But they didn't seem to have quite the spark they had when they drew with us in September. "We'd still be trying to score if we were playing at midnight," tweeted fan Rob Rowley.

Tweets of the week... Respect to loanee Robbie Simpson who, when he's not missing a last-minute sitter against Preston, appears to be something of a rap star, as shown in this video tweeted from the team's curry night earlier this week.

Even more impressive was fan David Plane's ode to Dean Cox, as tweeted by Paul Graves. But it was Rob Noble, Orient's marketing and partnerships manager, who caught the moment of the night on camera, however, and tweeted this: "Kev Dearden eating the mic. Obviously the curry wasn't enough."

01 December 2013

Leyton Orient 1 Sheffield United 1, 31/11/13

A game in which... David Mooney Mk II reverted back to David Mooney Mk I (2011/12 model) and spooned two big chances to put Orient 2-0 up in the first half. Still, the top scorer in League One is allowed the occasional blip - after all, you don't write off the whole Beatles back catalogue just because Paul McCartney subsequently made a song with frogs

In fact Orient were pretty impressive in the first half, though lost fluidity in the second and needed Dean Cox to dig them out of a hole. Luckily the toddler-sized winger had brought his toy bucket and spade and helped the home side rescue a point with a late wonder strike. 

Moment of magic... Yes, Cox's goal was pretty special, but it was eclipsed by Elliot Omozusi's scorpion kick in the first half. The defender was forced into emulating Colombian goalkeeper Rene Higuita's infamous save after slipping as a ball dropped towards him - though in his case it was less scorpion, more fatally-wounded bluebottle. 

Moment of madness... The defending that led to Sheffield United's goal, where Elliot Omozusi and Scott Cuthbert appeared to hold a month-long judicial enquiry between themselves as to what should be done with a loose ball in the penalty area, thus allowing Sheffield United to take control of proceedings and stick the ball in the net. 

Shaun Batt on the rampage
Top gun... What a joy it is to see Shaun Batt on the rampage, and two consecutive 50-yard charges in the first half left each and every Sheffield United defender looking like a terror-stricken matador who's accidentally brought a feather duster into the bullring instead of a sword. The striker faded after the break, but once again showed what a huge asset he is to Orient this season. 

In the dug out... Unusually Russell Slade did not celebrate Orient's goal by dad-dancing up the touchline, throwing his cap in the air and signalling up to Barry Hearn that he wants a pay rise. Today he chose to unleash a torrent of abuse at a fan behind the away dugout who'd apparently been giving him some gip. It was reminiscent of the time Martin Ling let fly in similar circumstances back in 2009. "The guy behind me had been harping on all season that he could do a better job than me," recalled the one-time Orient manager. "Funny thing was, it turned out it was Dean Smith."

View from the opposition... "Wouldn't have said this last year, but that's a good point away at Orient," said Blades fan Calum Higgingbottom, echoing the post-match sentiments of many of his fellow supporters. Did you hear that? Sheffield United are celebrating getting a point against Orient. In next week's news Usain Bolt holds a victory parade after recording a dead heat in a 100m race against a pot of yoghurt.

Tweet of the week... What does any self-respecting Orient footballer do of a Saturday evening? Whack on some hair gel, a dash of Intimately Beckham aftershave and head straight for Faces, Gants Hill, if they know what's good for them. Not Mathieu Baudry though, who tweeted: "Girls out... house for myself, sofa, chocolates #soundjob" Sofa?? Chocolates?? Don't tell me you were watching Bridget Jones's Diary on DVD, drinking Echo Falls and painting your toenails too Mathieu? Where's Jimmy Smith when you need him? 

24 November 2013

Swindon Town 1 Leyton Orient 3, 23/11/13

Swindon before kick off
A game in which... Russell Slade witnessed "the worst thing he's seen in football" - which is saying something given that he once endured Michael Symes's performance against Barnet in October 2012. And while one Swindon fan's attack on Jamie Jones grabbed the headlines, the real story is the fact that Orient made a team who had won six of their previous eight home games look like a Sunday pub side in which all 11 players had just returned from a stag do in Amsterdam. 

No disrespect to Swindon, but it's a measure of just how formidable Orient are at the moment that they bounced back from defeat against Preston with a performance like this against one of the league's high-flyers. 

Moment of magic... David Mooney's opening goal, a lob so sumptuous that they'll be serving it on the menu of Swindon's finest restaurants (two Harvesters and a Wimpy) for years to come. 

Moment of madness... Only one candidate here: the moment a Swindon fan came swinging at Jamie Jones. To be honest, he picked the wrong player: as someone who has presumably been in the taxi queue at 2am in Liverpool city centre, Jones is more than accustomed to being attacked by a pissed up thug for no apparent reason. 

Top gun... At times the interplay between Dean Cox, Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney was mesmerising, and between them they nearly scored about another 15 goals. Vincelot and Omozusi were also immense, and Jamie Jones - when he wasn't dodging punches - was flawless. But let's give man of the match to Moses Odubajo for his two goals and for being a constant menace to the Swindon defence. 

Little donkey... No bad performances from anyone in an Orient shirt, so instead have this photo of Swindon's pitch invader, courtesy of @OrientSteve

In the dug out... Seeing Jamie Jones under attack sprung goalkeeping coach Kevin Dearden into action from the bench. He explained: "I sprinted towards Scouse to try to help him - but by the time the incident was over I'd only made it as far as the seat next to me. Next week I'm planning to stay awake for the entire game, just to be safe." 

View from the opposition... "Thoroughly depressing day at the County Ground yesterday," wrote fan Steve Warren. "Idiot fan, cheating rewarded by shit ref and a joke of a defence again." If you say so. 
Tweet of the week... This from fan Lee Kinsley. "Swindon announce their new mascot."

16 November 2013

Leyton Orient 0 Preston North End 1,16/11/13

A game in which... Preston took to the pitch pumped and primed for a vicious battle. Orient, on the other
hand, look pumped and primed for a pleasant Sunday afternoon stroll around a bird sanctuary. Yes, for the first 70 minutes of the game the Lilywhites fought harder, pressed harder and scored a beauty of a goal.

The Os did work up a bit of a head of steam towards the end of the match - once Shaun Batt was on the pitch, basically - but to no avail. But, hey, let's not get too upset. It's a massive testament to the way Orient are playing this season that very decent sides such as Preston need to be at the top of their game to take points from us. We're in the automatic promotion positions. Don't panic - enjoy.

Moment of magic... Scott Cuthbert's death-defying, flying tackle on Joe Garner in the second half. The Preston striker was clean through until the Orient defender (who had a great game) hurtled towards him like a pissed up Glaswegian trying to jump the queue at the chippy to ensure he gets the last deep fried Mars bar.

Moment of madness... The second-half moment when David Mooney fortuitously found the ball at his feet six yards in front of goal with no Preston defender anywhere near him. One can only guess what went through the striker's head. My guess is: "Feck! I've got the ball. Although I've just remembered I haven't picked up my dry cleaning yet. Perhaps I could do it tomorrow before I go to the golf course... Oh, I've been tackled. Feck."

Top gun... It's no coincidence that the only time Orient really built up any pressure was once Shaun Batt came on. The big man is a clanking, clattering whirl of trouble to opposition defences and things always happen when he's on the pitch. Time to start him at right midfield, with Moses behind him and Omozusi at left back?

Little donkey... It's obviously totally unfair to judge a new signing on the basis of one single kick of a football, but since in Robbie Simpson's case that kick was straight at the keeper when put clean through on goal in the fourth minute of injury time, I'm going to do exactly that. It was a chance that Homer Simpson could probably have scored, let alone Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie. O.J. would probably have murdered the chance too.

In the dug out... If you'll recall, Russell Slade said this after Tuesday's game against Stevenage: "We are only going to be successful if we taste failure." Well, ok, I think we've done enough tasting now though. In fact, in the context of this season the last two results have been a massive Kevin Dearden-sized binge on failure. But fear not: Orient have already proved this season that they can bounce back from adversity. They'll just need to do it again against Swindon.

View from the opposition... Respect to the Preston fans, who were in fine voice throughout. Not all of them were happy though: "£9.60 for two pints, the price to pay to #pnefc winning in the capital," wrote supporter Jon Allison.

Tweet of the week... Respect to Jamie Jones for tweeting the following during last night's Children In Need:
"Just donated £100 but I'll give £1 for every retweet this gets between now and 10 o'clock." Perhaps Jamie underestimated the power of Twitter, however, because over 8,000 retweets later it was looking like his League One goalkeeper's pay packet was going to take a bit of hammering. He hastily tweeted: "Limit reached at £1000 thanks for the awareness raised for the cause and keep donating." And fair play to him too. Though team mate Scott Cuthbert couldn't resist a crack, tweeting: "I will give @jamie1jones £1 for every retweet this gets, poor guys skint" and seconds later following up with: "Sorry my £1 limit has been reached, thanks for the retweets."

15 November 2013

Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Stevenage 3 Leyton Orient 2, 12/11/13

A game which… closely resembled a teenage couple's first evening alone: a heady rush of excitement at the beginning despite the schoolboy errors, some awkward fumbling and then 45 minutes of standing around looking embarrassed.

Yes, who apart from everyone in the world could have guessed that with Gary Sawyer at centre back Orient would be 2-0 down within 10 minutes? And while the Os rallied throughout the rest of the first half they ultimately found themselves unable to break down Stevenage's ten men in the second. Bit of a strange game, but no great disaster to be out of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy this season.

Moment of magic… The moment Lloyd James wrestled the ball from David Mooney to take our penalty. The Irish striker has missed 100 per cent of his last two spot kicks which was reason enough for the Welsh midfielder to step up and very nearly cock it up himself.

Graham Westley
Moment of madness… Every single moment that referee James Adcock made a decision. And I don't mean that in the sense that Orient were hard done by. In fact, Graham Westley could well have complained about Stevenage's red card and the penalty decision against them – and probably would have done if at the time he wasn't still rolling around on the floor screaming, crying and soiling his nappy about an Orient throw in that had been taken four centimetres higher up the pitch than it should have been.

Top gun... Comparing the Lloyd James of today with the Lloyd James that was run ragged against Tranmere in August 2012 is like comparing a gourmet meal at Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant to a steaming pile of vomit. The midfielder is now the cog that makes Orient turn and tonight showed that even in adversity his intelligent passing is crucial to the team's attacking impetus. 

Jimmy Smith: fuming
Little donkey... You can say one thing about Jayden Stockley: he certainly does a lot of jumping. Then again so does a tree frog, and you wouldn't play that up front alongside David Mooney, even in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. It would be rude of me not to mention Stevenage right back Jimmy Smith too, who has got himself a mohican since leaving Brisbane Road. "My team mates told me we were going out for an Indian," said Jimmy. "I didn't realise they meant Red Indian. I was fuming."   

In the dug out... "If they'd got any deeper, they'd have required snorkels," said Russell Slade of Stevenage's defending, saving me from the bother of coming up with my own rubbish metaphor. But you can hardly blame a team down to 10 men trying to protect their lead. It seemed, however, that the Os manager was unsure whether he really wanted to win the game or not. He put out a relatively strong side, yet when chasing the game chose to take off Mooney and Batt rather than the less effective Jayden Stockley. "We are only going to be successful if we taste failure," he added cryptically, thus explaining away the entire 2011/12 season. 

View from the opposition... "Best win in years," wrote menacingly-named Stevenage fan Chuds on the Borochat forum. "Most satisfying for a long time. They disgust me. Their fans and their players, and their chairman are all utterly despicable." Blimey. One can only imagine how excitable Chuds will be if Stevenage win anything more significant than a Johnstone's Paint Trophy area quarter-final. 

Daryl McMahon: Bjorn again
Tweet of the week... "It's getting to that time of year check shirt, big boots and @MumfordAndSons on in the motor on the way to work," wrote one-time Orient midfielder Daryl McMahon this week, almost as if the concepts of fashion and music had never existed. And what is Daryl up to these days? By the look of his profile pic, he's moonlighting in an Abba tribute band. 

09 November 2013

FA Cup: Leyton Orient 5 Southport 2, 9/11/13

Southport's reserve keeper
A game which... featured all the comedy defending, wayward passing and reckless tackling you'd expect when a non-league side visit Brisbane Road. Although to be fair the guilty party wasn't Southport, it was Orient - or more specifically Yohann Lasimant.

Ok, that's a bit harsh, for though this wasn't the Os' most coherent performance there were four quality goals and the outcome never looked in doubt, especially given that the visitors' three first-half injuries meant that club mascot Dave Stevenson had to get changed out of his birdie costume and go in goal for them.  

Moment of magic... Elliot Omozusi's succession of stepovers as he attacked down the right wing in the second half, the most audacious case of showboating at Brisbane Road since George Porter bought himself a 150ft luxury yacht in anticipation of his big-money move to Real Madrid that still hasn't quite yet materialised. 

Jimmy Smith: #fuming
Moment of madness... The moment when Romain Vincelot - one yellow card away from a convenient suspension for the low-priority Johnstone's Paint Trophy game against Stevenage - kicked the ball away in an attempt to get himself booked. It was so lacking in subtlety he might as well have felt-tipped the words 'The referee is a c**t' across his face and be done with it. Interestingly a fuming Jimmy Smith once tried to do that very thing at half-time after being denied a clear penalty minutes earlier. Luckily for him he spelt 'referee' as 'rifurreey' so the officials were none the wiser. 

Top gun... Omozusi and Clarke were as good as ever, and Dean Cox scored a belter, but Shaun Batt proved yet again that he's not nicknamed 'Battman' simply because of the time he turned up at training wearing his underpants over his trousers after a mix-up in his morning routine. The striker was a powerful presence throughout and took his goal with typical prowess.

Yohann Lasimant
Little donkey... No one in the Orient squad can kill a ball stone dead like Yohan Lasimant. Then again no one else is quite as wasteful once they do have it under control. There is a very decent player lurking within the Frenchman, but at the moment his lack of end product makes him the footballing equivalent of a beautiful teenage girl who spends five hours applying make up, only to puke up into her own face after her first Bacardi Breezer. 

In the dug out... Russell Slade took something of a gamble today - and not just by standing within 15ft of one of Brisbane Road's ear-bleeding loud-speakers. The manager chose to rest key players and give starts to the likes of Jake Larkins, Johnny Gorman, Frankie Sutherland and Yohann Lasimant. And the fact that his team won pretty convincingly gives hope that we can still compete at the top of League One even when the inevitable injuries hit as the the season wears on. 

View from the opposition... "Lost 5-2 and played quite well," wrote Southport fan Jay Mobbs. "Best atmosphere in 13 years of supporting the club. Makes you proud to be a Sandgrounder." Yes, their fans and players were a credit to the club - and it's been a while since we've seen a conga in the North Stand. Respect. 

Tweet of the week... Congratulations to Jake Larkins who made his senior debut for Orient today. And what can we learn about the young goalkeeper from his Twitter feed? Well, he believes "Made in Chelsea is so much better than towie." Well that's ruined his chance of pulling at Faces nightclub, Gants Hill. He's sensitive: "Surprise surprise has got me in tears." And he's easily agitated by long-established systems of classifying dates and times: "No way is Sunday the first day in the week :( so confused." Welcome Jake! 

27 October 2013

Leyton Orient 1 Rotherham 0, 26/10/13

Steve Evans
A game which... Rotherham manager Steve Evans - taking a short break from evading tax and exposing himself to women - described thus: "Second half we've dominated the league leaders from start to end. I wouldn't think Orient have been outplayed like that for a long time."

And while it's no lie that the away side did indeed huff and puff like a Saga excursion to Amsterdam's red light district, they didn't actually create any chances - a huge credit once again to Orient's beast of a defence. We're not going to win every game 4-0 this season, and there are going to be spells in games where we're under pressure, but the fact Orient yet again emerged victorious is more evidence that our promotion challenge can be sustained.

Moment of magic... Another game, another Kevin Lisbie goal - this one calmly dispatched into the net after a goalmouth scramble that bore all the quality of a school playground game of Three And In. Credit too to Super Kev for not rising to the Rotherham players' accusations of goal-hanging.

Moment of madness... The moment Dean Cox managed to miss an open goal from point-blank range in the dying seconds of the game. Admittedly Rotherham goalkeeper Adam Collin did pull off a physics-defying save, but Tiny's sure to be punishing himself for not putting the match to bed - probably by throwing darts at one of the 47 photos of himself that decorate his house.

Top gun... The Orient defence today were missing the Gallic elegance of Mathieu Baudry but were just as resolute in repelling Rotherham's feisty second-half display. Sawyer, Omozusi and Cuthbert were all superb, but once again Nathan Clarke proved he excels at all four of the requirements of a League One defender: brute force; lumping the ball up the pitch; hurling in long throws; tattoos.

Little donkey... [Once again I have to point out that this section of my blog is suspended until any of the team actually start playing badly. In the meantime have this classic photo of Dean Cox in a onesie, which is always worth a repeat viewing.]

In the dug out... "You've got to look at the bigger picture and the smaller picture," said Russell Slade after the game, presumably still trying to convince people to look at his holiday photos from Magaluf. But the manager yet again deserves huge plaudits for keeping Orient at the summit of League One and for swiftly turning down any potential advances from other clubs.

View from the opposition... "Orient fans didn't clap Revell off because he was a good servant for them," wrote Mark Hollyhead 100 per cent incorrectly. "They clapped him off because he's tripe."

Tweet of the week... Orient are getting so much media coverage at the moment, they're even appearing in Hollywood films, as noted by fan Jaime Randall: "Just watching Angels & Demons and all of a sudden the Orient boys pop up."

12 October 2013

Leyton Orient 2 MK Dons 1, 12/10/13

Karl Robinson
A game in which... Orient produced a victory almost as massive as Karl Robinson lookalike James Corden's ego. Yes, this was a big, big result. Big because it was against one of the best sides of the division; big because we came back from a goal down; big because it came off the back of three consecutive draws and a dip in form; and big because the team showed huge spirit in surviving a late - albeit very brief - onslaught from the Dons. A performance that would have made Laurie Cunningham proud.

Moment of magic... The moment in the 90th minute when Dean Cox charged fully 30 yards to chase down an innocuous ball on the touchline, slide-tackling and earning Orient a precious few seconds respite from MK Dons' pressure. The pocket-sized winger has come in for some stick for a couple of below-par performances in the last few weeks but he never lacks for commitment and put in a much-improved shift today.

Alan Smith: Reem
Moment of madness... How about the moment in 2002 when Iain Williamson was officially given licence to referee professional football matches? Or the moment MK Dons' Alan Smith looked in the mirror and thought to himself, 'Yeah, my hair's looking reem'? Or the moment when Orient legend Phil Hoadley took to the microphone at half-time clearly blind drunk and unable to prevent Brisbane Road's cut-price PA system from feeding back like an early-90s Nirvana gig? Take your pick.

Top gun... Where to even begin? Jamie Jones was flawless and pulled off one crucial point-blank save; Clarke, Baudry, Cuthbert and Vincelot were immense; Lloyd James was industrious and creative; Moses was lively and dangerous, especially in the first half; and Mooney and Lisbie combined brilliantly for the second goal. But let's hail another eye-catching performance from Elliot Omozusi, whose defensive endeavour and attacking fortitude were highly significant in today's victory.

The horror, the horror...
Little donkey... [NB: This section of my blog is officially suspended due to the totally unprecedented circumstances currently taking place at Leyton Orient Football Club in which it is impossible to pick out a single player who's putting a foot wrong. Instead here's a picture of Nathan Clarke terror-stricken at the blood-curdling horror of Lloyd James's fashion sense.]

In the dug out... Russell Slade has become quite the celebrity (check out the full-page interview in the Guardian today) and was besieged by a dozen or so press photographers as he emerged from the tunnel. "I haven't let all this attention go to my head," he said shortly afterwards, "but next week I am opening a new branch of Lidl in Epping with Peter Andre and the week after I'm launching my own range of perfume."

View from the opposition... "Anyone in the crowd will tell you a defeat for us today wasn't fair, we were by far the better team," said MK Dons manager Karl Robinson, the most ludicrous statement heard at Brisbane Road since the time Jimmy Smith was heard complaining furiously in Theo's restuarant that he couldn't find a single toad in his toad-in-the-hole.

Tweet of the week... Another example of the everyday travails of a modern French footballer in England from Mathieu Baudry, who tweeted: "How about i pop out to the local store to get some meatballs ...come bk with everything bt not meatballs .im losing it." In next week's hilarious instalment a confused Mathieu goes to post a letter only to accidentally get elected as the Member of Parliament for Leyton & Wanstead.

09 October 2013

Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Leyton Orient 0 Coventry City 0, 8/10/13

A game which... was the perfect advert for cup sponsor Johnstone's, in that the spectacle was exactly like watching some of their paint dry. Yes, it was lucky the tickets were only £10 each because, in terms of value for money, that meant they were only £10 overpriced.

So Orient aren't hitting the heights of earlier this season and for most of the match struggled to play the final pass or construct purposeful attacks. On the plus side the defence were superb and all four penalties perfectly executed. And still no one other than a Premier League side has managed to beat us this season. Don't panic!

Moment of magic... Jamie Jones's brilliant penalty save - the first he had to make all match - and clearly inspired by the pre-shoot out pep talk from goalkeeping coach Kevin Dearden. "Right, Scouse. Chicken Cottage on Leyton High Road are doing two-for-one buckets of spicy chicken wings until 10pm so for Christ's sake save a couple so we can get the fuck out of here."

David Mooney's touch is somewhere here
Moment of madness... The moment towards the end of the match when substitute David Mooney was put clean through by Lloyd James. It would have been a certain goal, save for the fact that the Irish striker's touch didn't merely desert him, it booked a one-way flight to Australia and left without so much as a goodbye.

Top gun... Another towering performance by Nathan Clarke tonight, who's proving to be so solid at the back this season it's like having a six-foot brick wall in front of the Orient goal. Which, interestingly, Martin Ling once tried when he needed a bit more mobility than Joe Dolan could offer.

Little donkey... Yohann Lasimant - given his first start of the season tonight - certainly looks cultured. But then again so does a pot of strawberry yogurt and you wouldn't ask that to try to execute a successful pass to a team mate. And while the Frenchman can certainly dribble round in circles, some end product is going to be useful if he's to contribute more this season.

The management... "We're lucky to have Samsung as a sponsor, they have given us a tablet which we used to show Jamie some clips," said Kevin Nugent after the game in a shameless attempt to blag a free Galaxy S4 smartphone to replace the battered Nokia 5110 he's had since 1998. "The lads may laugh," he added, "but none of them have scored over 4 billion on Snake."

View from the opposition... "Hope Steven Pressley sticks this up on the tactics board tomorrow," wrote Sky Blues fan Curtis Armstrong yesterday of the photo below, adding "John Fleck take note." And Fleck did indeed take note of not shooting straight at the keeper when taking his penalty. He put it wide instead.

Tweet of the week... "Why wasn't I born in Spain (Barcelona)" tweeted one-time Orient cry baby Dean Morgan plaintively this week. Pray tell why, Deano: Is it because of Gaudi's impressive modernist architecture throughout the city? Is it because of the proud history of Catalonian nationalism? Is it because of the molecular gastronomy cuisine created by the pioneering Adria brothers? Nope, apparently it's this: "I would love to play in the Nou Camp." Yep, Deano, if you'd been born in Barcelona you'd definitely have a chance of appearing at the Nou Camp. I've heard they're pretty short of stewards at the moment.

Orient by numbers... Two. The number of teeth one unfortunate press photographer has left after being clattered by Moses Odubajo in the first half. "I was lucky," he spluttered after the game. "A colleague of mine got steamrollered by Michael Symes last season. We're still trying to dig him out."

30 September 2013

Leyton Orient 1 Walsall 1, 28/9/13

Orient fans burn their season tickets
A game in which… dreamy Orient fans were reminded that we don't actually live in a utopia where the sun always shines, the streets are paved with gold and your football team win every single match. Still, it was nice while it lasted and there really is no shame in drawing at home with a very classy and very resilient Walsall side.

Yeah, yeah, so they only had 10 men for most of the game and Orient certainly weren't at their fluent best – there seemed to be more misplaced passes in this single match than the rest of the season put together, for example – but, you know, sometimes things just don't work out. No need to axe the entire team. No need to fire the manager. No need to weep openly on the streets. No need to conduct a ritual sacrificial burning of your season ticket on Hackney Marshes. At least wait until we lose to Oldham next week.

Moment of magic... David Mooney's ninth league goal in nine games, in which the Irishman powered his shot into an open goal almost like he didn't used to regularly miss chances like that two seasons ago. Who'd have have thought back then that Moons would have more goals than Kevin Lisbie? Indeed, who'd have thought he'd have more goals than Jamie Jones?

Moment of madness... Three moments of madness in fact: Walsall captain Andy Butler's red card (unjustified); Romain Vincelot's first yellow card (unjustified); and Romain Vincelot's second yellow card, in which the midfielder showed the sort of pointlessly snooty petulance you'd expect of a top French food critic tasked with reviewing Brisbane Road's infamous pies. Justified.

Top gun... This wasn't a day that Orient particularly clicked, but Mathieu Baudry (or "Frenchie" as he's known to his team mates on account of his penchant for kissing them with tongues whenever he scores a goal in training) once again showed his class at the back and very nearly won the game for Orient at the death with an arrowing header. Omozusi had a pretty good game too.

Dean Cox
Little donkey... It'd be fair to say that this wasn't Dean Cox's finest performance (ditto Brentford). It would be unfair to say that for that reason he should be tarred, feathered and placed in stocks in Coronation Gardens so irate Orient fans can throw rotting fruit at him. After all, even our classiest players are allowed off days sometimes - if they didn't they'd be playing for a big team like Brentford. Oh, hang on...

In the dug out... There was eye-bulging rage on the Walsall bench when referee Graham Scott showed Andy Butler red in the first half, particularly from Jon Whitney, the opposition's physiotherapist-cum-grave digger. Hang on, grave digger? Yes, that's right, when Jon isn't patching up players or trying to fight Kevin Nugent he's shovelling dirt onto coffins. Must come in dead handy.

View from the opposition... "Wha a team" wrote Walsall fan David Harris with scant regard for the convention of using consonants at the end of words. "Go to Orient n r the 1st to halt their winnin streak despite playing most the game with 10 men." Fair play, though it's a measure of Orient's progress that away fans are celebrating securing a point at Brisbane Road as opposed to previous seasons when opposition managers would be sacked if they didn't win by at least three clear goals.

Tweet of the week... "Looking for 3 serious people willing to learn. Earn around your current commitments" spammed former Orient striker Ryan Jarvis this week in a bid to combine playing professional football for York City with flogging a nutritional supplement. "**ATTENTION** 3 DAY TRIALS AVAILABLE NOW!" he continued, perhaps suggesting he's finding it hard to make ends meet at the moment. Shouldn't have accepted that pay-per-goal deal at Bootham Crescent, hey Jarve?

Orient by numbers... 37. The number of times David Mooney was caught offside in today's match, a total only exceeded by inside forward Billy Rees in a game against Norwich City in November 1953. "There was 19 feet of snow that day but the game went ahead nonetheless," chuckled Billy some years later. "I became stranded up to my neck near their six-yard box and stayed there until the following Tuesday when skipper Stan Aldous came to dig me out with his tractor. Lost my foot to frostbite, unfortunately, but I still managed another four seasons for the Os. You couldn't let little things like that bother you."

24 September 2013

Brentford 0 Leyton Orient 2, 23/9/13

A game which... according to Brentford fans, is like a day out at Wembley for Orient supporters. And they're right: playing against a team nine places below us in League One, with a similar-sized stadium, similar-sized fan base and a similarly empty trophy cabinet certainly does rank right up there with a trip to see Joe Pasquale in pantomime at the Wembley Civic Centre. And besides, we hardly need the Bees to create buzz around Orient at the moment for we are a team in dazzling form.

Make no mistake, this was Orient's second toughest challenge of the season (the first was prising Kevin Dearden out of his canoe with an elephant-sized shoe horn and nineteen cans of WD-40 during the pre-season team-building day) and the fact that they yet again emerged victorious suggests that something very, very special is happening right now. Enjoy.

Moment of magic… Shaun Batt's deftly-finished winner. Given his goal-scoring form, it's almost criminal that the striker has to sit on the bench, but for the moment let's just revel in the fact that we've got a super-sub like the Jonathan Tehoue of 2010/11, only much fitter, faster and less likely to cause a national shortage in KFC popcorn chicken.

Moment of madness… The moment in the second half when Romain Vincelot was brutally catapulted in the air, only for referee James Linington to casually wave play on as if it's totally normal to see a bearded Frenchman attacked by a rampaging buffalo on a field in west London. Yes, Brentford were a talented, but physical side – like a Stevenage with some appreciation of the law against GBH – and it's to Orient's credit that they matched them protein shake for protein shake, despite the lack of protection from the man in black.

French humour, mais oui?
Top gun… Lloyd James was scintillating, Moses Odubajo was dangerous and Mathieu Baudry inexplicably blindfolded himself throughout the entire game for reasons perhaps best put down to the idiosyncrasies of French humour. But the stand out performer had to be Nathan Clarke, who at one point executed a flying, last-ditch tackle in the penalty area so heroic that it's likely he will be knighted by the Queen in the New Year's Honours List and thus hold the least-threatening title in the history of the realm: Arise Sir Nathan!

Little donkey…  It is currently impossible to criticise anyone in an Orient shirt, unless they're wearing it to a wedding or something, so instead let's mock MK Dons manager and tonight's TV pundit Karl Robinson. "It wasn't a penalty, la" was his take on the moment David Mooney was wrestled to the ground in the second half, the most short-sighted proclamation since a blind-drunk Jimmy Smith tried to chat up a hat stand in Faces Nightclub, Gants Hill.

In the dug out... Is there anything Russell Slade can't do at the moment? Best ever start to a season? Check. First victory at Griffin Park in 20 years? Check. Form side in Europe? Check. Miracle cure for baldness? Ch... Well, maybe next week.

Andrew Lloyd-Webber
celebrates Orient's cup final win
View from the opposition... With brazen disregard for originality, Brentford fan Issac Hawkes wrote this: "Well the Orient fans can celebrate winning their cup final tonight but they'll plummet back to mid-table where they belong." WRONG, WRONG, WRONG, ISSAC. We don't belong mid-table. We belong in and around the relegation zone. We still beat you though, hey?

Tweet of the week... This from one-time Matt Lockwood hole-filler Joe Keith: "@leytonorientfc was a great place to be with good friendly staff all around the club whilst Brentford was dreadful with shit fans as well." And, in case you weren't wondering what Joe was up to these days, it's this: "What a wonderful day to be alive. Doing housework singing along to the Arctic Monkeys and looking forward to our game against Lowestoft later." What a legend.

Orient by numbers... 5,238. The number of times the phrase "With Kevin Lisbie up top they've got a bit of experience" has been used by pundits to explain Orient's current run of success. 5,237 of them have come from Steve Claridge.
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