29 August 2013

Capital One Cup: Leyton Orient 0 Hull City Tigers 1, 27/8/13

A game which... was preceded by Hull City Tigers' admirable charity campaign to highlight the dangers of botched cosmetic surgery on elderly women. Or at least it appeared so until it transpired that their brave victim was actually manager Steve Bruce. 

On the pitch Orient were yet again undone by a late Hull City Tigers goal, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that the home side dominated pretty much the whole 120 minutes. Ok, we didn't turn the pressure into a goal, but in this clash of top flight versus third tier, a casual observer would have thought that Hull City Tigers were the League One side and Orient, well, the slightly better League One side.

Moment of magic... The moment in extra time when Romain Vincelot charged into a scything tackle on the touchline then beat his chest heroically in front of the West Stand. Were it not for the fact he was tasked with controlling the midfield he'd probably have ripped apart the carcass of a wild boar with his bare teeth, downed seven flagons of ale and slept with every fair maiden in the stadium too.  

Moment of madness... The moment leading to Hull City Tigers' goal when the ball became stuck under the boot of Nathan Clarke who - at full stretch - was prone in the six-yard box. This was a rotten piece of luck - like finding yourself behind Kevin Dearden in the lunch queue - for a player who'd been imperious in defence throughout the night.

Top gun... Where to even begin? The whole back five were immense; James and Vincelot were superb in midfield; and Odubajo showed that he really should be playing against better opposition than Hull City Tigers' reserve team. But let's take a moment to remember quite what a classy player Dean Cox is. He was everywhere - which is saying something for a player whose tiny legs need 37 steps to negotiate a single metre. 

Yohann Lasimant in training
Little donkey... Why play a simple pass when you can execute an insouciant flick conceived on the beaches of Rio De Janiero? This is a question that needs to be asked of new signing and late substitute Yohann Lasimant. The boy's got talent, for sure, but he may need to tailor it towards the more earthier requirements of League One. 

The management... Unlike during some of the more 'difficult' periods of Russell Slade's reign, the manager is currently absolutely clear what his best starting XI is. Mind you, given the paucity of our squad a senile amoeba - or Jimmy Smith even - could probably name our best team. And that team is purring like a jet engine - or at least a top-of-the-range lawnmower - at the moment, which is once again credit to the job big Russ is doing. 

View from the opposition... "Orient's 1st team v #hcafc reserves remember," wrote Hull City Tigers fan Rob Wilson, rather ungraciously. "Not pretty but never troubled thanks largely to stout defending McShane style."

Tweet of the week... Cast your mind back to a time when huge hulking dinosaurs roamed the earth. Ok, maybe not that far, but at least back to 2005 when huge hulking dinosaurs roamed the Orient defence. One of those was called Joe Dolan and fans who remember his couple of appearances at Brisbane Road would perhaps be a little surprised to see Joe anywhere within a 5000-mile radius of the Premier League trophy. Yeah, well, fuck you all because this week Joe tweeted this picture after sneaking into FA Headquarters disguised as a sack of potatoes. 

24 August 2013

Leyton Orient 2 Crewe Alexandra 0, 24/8/13

Moses Odubajo scores for Orient
A game which… was played in such waterlogged conditions that Orient might have been better off bringing
their Speedos, snorkels and a pair of baby armbands for Dean Cox. Still, of the two teams Orient adapted much better resulting in a first half so one-sided it resembled a swimming race between Michael Phelps and a lump of concrete.

Yes, a two-goal lead was the least the home side deserved for some intoxicating attacking play from Cox, Odubajo, Lisbie and Mooney. Crewe – a decent side, make no mistake – came back hard in the second half but the Os bravely weathered the storm to record a fifth straight victory and leave them top of the League One table. Astonishing, really.

Moment of magic… If there’s anyone you want to see grabbing the ball when Orient are awarded a penalty, it’s not David Mooney. Still, it’s a measure of the Irishman’s confidence this season that – after Kevin Lisbie stroked wide from the spot just minutes earlier – he stepped up to the plate and slotted home from 12 yards.

Moment of madness… A solitary moment of dawdling by Scott Cuthbert (who was otherwise immense) in the second half that led to two Crewe players – don’t know which, so let’s call them both Dean Ashton – bearing down on goal. Not sure what was going through the Scot’s mind, but I’ll take a stab at: “Deep-fried Mars Bars and Braveheart on DVD tonight if we get through this one, lads.”

Top Gun… Helpfully Orient PA Philip Othen announces the man of the match towards the end of each game these days, saving me the trouble of trying to figure it out for myself. Today it was awarded to Moses Odubajo, which seems fair enough for a first half in which he repeatedly penetrated the Crewe defence like a German U-Boat attacking a flotilla of rubber ducks. I’d have given it to Jamie Jones though.

Little donkey… No bad performances from anyone in an Orient shirt. Indeed, the team was on fire today – or at least it would have been if it wasn't under three feet of water.

The management… “I’m getting a real buzz off the clean sheets,” said Russell Slade after the game, suggesting that the midweek nights alone in his Brisbane Road flat are pretty exciting on laundry day. But let’s take our hats off to a manager who pretty much everyone wanted sacked this time last year – Russell, we salute you.

View from the opposition… “Dominated Leyton Orient second half,” writes irate Crewe fan Tom Royle with predictable bias. “Wonder how much Russell Slade was paying the ref #fuming”

Tweet of the week... Only one candidate here: this photo by Os fan Adam Sampson from Stevenage last week, proving that there is food on offer at football grounds actually worse than the Labrador Pies and Scottish Border Collie Burgers available at Brisbane Road. Adam's tweet went viral - a similar reaction to that you'd expect from actually eating the cheesy chips - and made it into the national press. Stevenage FC denied the concoction was on sale at all in a dubious tweet full of dire cheese-based puns - demonstrating that when it comes to customer service, they don't give Edam. Sorry.

Orient by numbers… Four league wins out of four equals Orient’s best ever start to the season in 1910/11. “Nearly 430,000 people turned up to our fifth game,” recalled groundsman Billy Smith. “It would have been more, but it clashed with a particularly funny episode of the radio comedy ‘Vicar, Where’s Me Trousers?’”

18 August 2013

Stevenage 0 Leyton Orient 1, 17/8/13

Stevenage line up for kick off
A game in which... Orient proved a match for a team that presumably prepared by eating a
bowl of raw nails, downing 10 pints of Maximuscle and strapping horseshoes to their hooves.

Yep, Stevenage are a Graham Westley side through and through and as such the challenge was as psychotically agricultural as ever. Luckily Orient were up for ruck and - though it wasn't pretty - in its own way this was just as an impressive a victory as the mauling of Shrewsbury a week earlier.

Moment of magic... The calamitous chain of events in the second half that began with a rare moment of dawdling by Nathan Clarke, leading to a wrongly-awarded Stevenage corner followed by a goalmouth scramble that saw Kevin Lisbie slice the ball onto the underside of the crossbar before Jamie Jones weakly managed to punch away. Why was this a moment of magic? Because it meant that in five attempts a Graham Westley team has yet to score a goal against Orient. Shame.

Moment of madness... The moment when the Stevenage match programme editor inexplicably sent this week's edition off to print containing an article by Stuart Govier on "Leyton Orient favourite" Bobby Moore. Expect us to return the favour when the Boro visit Brisbane Road with a feature on Stevenage legend Stanley Matthews and a look back at those great days when George Best turned out at the Lamex.

Top gun... At kick off you could have forgiven the Orient team a flicker of doubt over their ability to face down 10 eye-bulging man-giants and Jimmy Smith. The away side needed a chest-beating captain's performance and they got one from Nathan Clarke who (the aforementioned indiscretion aside) was resolute in the face of clear and present physical danger throughout.

Little donkey... Romain Vincelot, on the other hand, approached the game by taking every available opportunity to throw himself to the floor like an overly-eager actor auditioning for the role of "wounded soldier" in a re-enactment of the Storming of the Bastille.

The management... For the first time in his entire career, Russell Slade has figured out how to win games at the start of the season, rather than the end. "The answer was staring me in the face," said the manager after the match. "Just don't sign Michael Symes."

View from the opposition... "They have strengths and weaknesses and I will pick a team to exploit that," said Graham Westley before selecting Jimmy Smith at right back to face his old club. Since Smith himself is no longer on Twitter we can only imagine what is going through the former Orient man's head. I'll take a stab at: "#fuming 2day but crib loooking goood trim later go Faces be brave".

Tweet of the week... Great to see our illustrious leader Barry Hearn putting Twitter to good use. Earlier in the season he secured the signing of Shaun Batt off the back of this tweet: "Look, Battman, no one else wants you so you might as well sign for us. Lol." (I'm paraphrasing slightly.) Before the kick of the Premier League this weekend he took to baiting Hammers fans with this: "Good luck to West Ham today #myfavouritenurseryclub" - a jibe that Leyton Orient legend Bobby Moore would surely have appreciated.

Away day magic... Fittingly today's game appeared to be sponsored by the actual Apocalypse - and certainly the walk from Stevenage Railway Station to the Lamex would suggest that the holy Armageddon has indeed begun in this small Hertfordshire town.

11 August 2013

Leyton Orient 3 Shrewsbury 0, 10/8/13

A game which... demonstrated that at the moment Orient are finding League One as simple as a general knowledge quiz set by Jimmy Smith. Indeed, apart from a brief stagnant period towards the end of the first half the home side were totally in control of this game and crucially - and I can't actually believe I'm writing this about an Orient side - it always feels like goals are coming. 

Seriously, this is a team in rich vein of form and if it continues (with that 'if' written in enormous sky-high letters on the side of Kevin Dearden's fridge) we'll be in with a fighting chance of promotion. 

Moment of magic... Moses Odubajo's last-minute goal, in which the opposition defence appeared to be so traumatised I can only presume they were having some sort of flashback to that terrible day in '98 when an aggrieved Morris dancer ran amok at the Shrewsbury Village Fete and destroyed most of the entries in the 'Most Amusingly-Shaped Vegetable' competition.  

David Mooney
Moment of madness... When Orient were finding the game so easy that Dean Cox decided to mix things up by slide-tackling his team mate David Mooney, an action reminiscent of a determined gerbil attacking a bewildered giraffe. 

Top Gun... Nathan Clarke, Mathieu Baudry and Jamie Jones had flawless games, and David Mooney's two goals puts him on top of the League One goalscorers table - an event that until yesterday scientists believed to be inconsistent with the known laws of the universe. However, man of the match has to go to Elliot Omozusi who - playing in an unfamiliar left back position - offered both defensive and attacking impetus throughout. 

Little donkey... No bad performances from anyone in an Orient shirt and even the referee and officials had good games. In fact the only blight on the day was the less-than-expected (given the 2,000 free season tickets dished out) gate of just over 4,000. Hopefully that's an August phenomenon, and once we get into September we'll see the crowds flocking in to see the league leaders. 

Coxy: Ladies' man
In the dug out... Dean Cox was milling around pre-game in the technical area today, primarily to try and chat up the Cheery Os, as captured in this photograph.

View from the opposition... "Inevitable spanking now complete for #salop," wrote Shrews fan Stephen Finch. "When will the Turner apologists wake up? Action or exit Graham, you said a play-off push."

Tweet of the week... According to Dean Cox's Twitter feed, he and his girlfriend are currently kitting out their pad. So what does a discerning lower league footballer go for when it comes to art? The post-impressionism of Cezanne? Something from the pre-Raphaelites? Or perhaps a surrealist piece by Magritte?* Actually no - Tiny went for this stirring portrait of his favourite player, tweeting "Great canvas to put up in the house." 

Orient by numbers... 20. The number of years since Orient last topped the table after their first two games. "I remember it well," recalled manager Peter Eustace. "The club secretary Old Bertie Smythe - who was 112 at the time - accidentally arranged our first fixtures during June. I wouldn't have minded, but he also inadvertently signed Colin West while attempting to pay the gas bill."

* Thanks Wikipedia

06 August 2013

Capital One Cup: Leyton Orient 3 Coventry City 2, 6/8/13

The time, inexplicably sponsored
by the Guardian.
A game which... featured five goals, one sending off, one missed penalty and a touchline jig from Russell Slade. What more do you want, the added minutes announcement at the end of each half being sponsored by the Guardian newspaper? Yeah, well, inexplicably you got that too.

On the pitch - which this year the club have helpfully covered with grass - Orient at times bristled with attacking verve while on occasion being a bit sloppy in defence and midfield. But, hey, never mind that, for ultimately this was a merited victory against a pretty classy and very spirited Coventry side. Two games, eight goals, top of the league and through to the next round of the League Cup. Blimey, this must be what it feels like to support a decent team.

Moment of magic... Dean Cox's goal, the first scored by an Orient player from a ball breaking loose on the edge of the penalty area since Andy Harris used to regularly dispatch them somewhere vaguely in the direction of Winchester.

Moment of madness... When Coventry City captain Carl Baker responded to his sending off by booting a water bottle in the air next to the home dugout, thus awakening Kevin Dearden from his deep slumber and interrupting the blissful dream he was having about a bungalow constructed entirely from Ginsters Spicy Chicken Slices. "I was so annoyed I wanted to get off my seat and give him a piece of my mind," said the Orient goalkeeping coach later. "I didn't though," he added.

Top Gun... In the first half Romain Vincelot marshalled the midfield like Napoleon during the 1793 Siege of Toulon (one for my readers who are studying GCSE history there - always looking out for you guys). In the second half Jamie Jones was the shining star, for his penalty stop and a couple of typically athletic saves. Let's give man of the match to Super Kevin Lisbie though for his thoroughly un-Orient ability to actually stick the ball in the net whenever he's presented with a chance.

Little donkey... Not the best performance from Gary Sawyer tonight who, for Coventry's first goal, wasn't so much as left for dead by Carl Baker, but sliced up with a chainsaw, packed into a suitcase and dropped in the River Lea.

David Mooney is expected to arrive
any time now...
The management... "This is the first step in a thousand steps," said Russell Slade after Saturday's victory against Carlisle. If tonight is only the second step, then it's going to take a bloody long time to get to our destination. David Mooney's expected to arrive some time in the year 3047.

Tweet of the week... "The hottest guy is in mc Donald's right now and he supports Leyton orient... if we get married dad would be so proud" tweeted Shannon Jeffery today, demonstrating that when it comes to love, you should always aim high. And if that doesn't work, aim much, much lower and hope for the best. "Omg hot Leyton orient guy drives a mini #meanttobe" she wrote later. #believe

Orient in numbers... Eight. The number of goals Orient have scored in their first two games, incredibly just two short of the total goal count for the entire 2002/03 season. "We had Lee Thorpe and Wayne Purser up top," said gaffer Paul Brush in mitigation. "I'm surprised they got as many as 10 to be honest."
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