23 March 2014

GUEST POST! Walsall 1 Leyton Orient 1, 21/3/14

Frankly I'm disgusted that Orient are only third in League One with eight games to go and refuse to return from Berlin until they win the Champions League. Luckily Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - has no such morals and filed this report from Walsall...

A game in which… Orient spent the first 30 minutes looking as clued up as a Malaysian transport minister at a press conference, but by the second half better resembled the Russian special forces attacking a Crimean air base. Yup, another “game of two halves” saw Orient bludgeon their way to a frankly undeserved draw, highlighted by the fact that Captain Clarke once again hit the back of the net (I know, his goals are like buses).

With the team suffering an apparent hangover from last week’s demoralising defeat, Orient started off without any sort of purpose, giving possession away at every opportunity. They stepped up the pressure second half - mainly via a series of long, aimless balls forwards - and on the rare occasions they did get hold of the ball they looked like they might do something, but Walsall always looked a threat on the counter-attack. In summary, the performance suggests that the team is running out of steam and the management team out of ideas… let’s hope not!

Moment of magic... Eldin Jakupovic’s stunning double save down to his right to tip a shot onto the post and then his reaction to dive at Westcarr’s feet to save the follow-up. In retrospect it earned Orient a point, as they should have been 2-0 down in the first 30 minutes.

Referee Tim Robinson
Moment of madness... Referee Tim Robinson’s baffling “senior moment” in the first half. He stopped the game in a the middle of a promising O’s attack to tell Baudry and Downing off for holding, but did not wait until the ball was dead and with no foul given, he gave a drop ball to the utter bafflement of everyone in the ground and much to the irritation of Os fans and players.

Top gun… It was tough to pick a top performer with Orient having an off-day. Our best players were Baudry, who had a decent game on his return from injury, while Jamie Ness made a real impact when he replaced the utterly ineffective Lloyd James in the second half. Jakupovic once again made big saves when he had to make them.

Little donkeys... Precious fans that dish it out but can’t take it. The small group of Walsall supporters who surrounded a prone Moses Odubajo after a collision with the Walsall keeper by the goal, hurling abuse at him, and had to be held back by a chain of stewards, only to suggest the O’s winger should be banned later on. “Moses Odubajo should be reported to the FA for telling a small section of Walsall fans to f**k off” said Vital Walsall, while Matt replied with what I can only hope was tongue in cheek: “Definitely! Clearly read his lips from the back row of block 3. Ref seemed to ignore it as well; he was right next to him”

In the dugout... “We can only do our best” commented Russell Slade when questioned about Wolves and Brentford’s wins which saw the Os slip further behind the top two. No offence Russell, but if this is our best, I’d hate to see our worst. Walsall are a good side that matched Orient at Brisbane Road with ten men, so nobody expected a walkover, but with 7+ players playing below par, Orient were lucky to get a point.

View from the opposition... Vital Walsall was pretty generous about the game: “Result was fair to be honest. Orient dominated last 55 minutes of the game. They could have had a penalty and even snatched it at end." But Michael Tapper disagreed: “I disagree with the fair comment. I thought we made them look like a pub team”. Really? In truth Orient were somewhere in the middle, failed to get their passing game going and played the ball long far too often.

PA announcer of the week… Radcliffe Borough’s PA announcer getting in a twist with his words in a Northern Premier League Division One North game against Lancaster City. Why? Because players and fans from nearby Ramsbottom United had turned up for a fight after their match against Farsley was postponed.

16 March 2014

Leyton Orient 0 Brentford 1, 15/3/14

Brentford's footballing heritage
A game in which... Brentford came to east London brandishing their majestic football heritage (one season in the Championship since the 1930s and three Johnstone's Paint Trophy final defeats) like a giant inflatable cock. Yes, Orient were honoured to host such a well-endowed club when all we've got is Tiny Cox, but in the first half the Os demonstrated exactly why they're still fighting for automatic promotion with a thrusting performance.

To be fair to the Bees it's a deluded portion of their fans that show no respect to Orient rather than the club itself, and the way their players and management celebrated their hard-fought victory - like they'd just been told that Hooters are to open a new branch in Brentford town centre - is a better indication of quite how far our "little" east London outfit has come this season.

Moment of magic... The delightful interplay between Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney in the first half that set up the latter with clear sight of goal. Unfortunately instead of doing what any self-respecting League One striker should do and sticking his laces through it, Moons elected to try to replicate the once-in-a-lifetime lob he executed at Swindon earlier in the season. Next week: Gary Sawyer tries to Cryuff turn a routine clearance on the basis he once almost did the same after tripping on his laces playing for North Devon under-12s.

Moment of madness... The moment referee Robert Madley (justifiably) sent off Brentford's James Tarkowski early in the second half, thus denying Leyton Orient any opportunity to actually equalise. Yep, like a boxer who's unable to land a single punch on a one-armed opponent, the Os are inexplicably inept at scoring against 10 men. It's a wonder opposition teams don't just start the game one short - or with Jimmy Smith in midfield, same difference.

David Mooney: Probably shouldn't look in the mirror
Top gun... Right, let's get this straight: Orient did not "bottle" this game, they were undone by an excellent Brentford side. No shame in that. Cox, Mooney and Lisbie all combined well in the first half before fading; the defence were pretty resolute throughout; and in the first 45 minutes Vincelot almost looked like he'd justify the inevitable man-of-the-match award in the Supporters' Club. But to be brutally honest, if all the Orient players took a long hard look in the mirror (maybe just a quick glance if you're David Mooney, you don't want to alarm yourself) they'd have to admit all the best performers on the pitch today were wearing a Brentford shirt.

Little donkey...  Yeah, so no one played particularly badly - it's just that for Orient to win big games like this they need a number of the team to play blinders, rather than play as if they're wearing blinders. They've done that many times this season but today just wasn't one of those days. No need to put them up before the firing squad just yet - these players have been heroes to a man this season, and - as Wolves' draw with Shrewsbury demonstrates - there are twists and turns at the top to come. DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE!

In the dug out... "Donaldson's gone in as if it's a bar brawl," said Russell Slade of the Brentford striker's dainty slap to the face of Romain Vincelot, suggesting that if you ever get into a fight in an East End pub, you're not going to get much back up from the Orient manager. Slade seems somewhat unpopular with Brentford fans, who've shown that their Photoshop skills are right up there with their humility by producing the meme pictured here.

View from the opposition... Oh, where to even begin? Perhaps with the plethora of Bees fans (and an embarrassing Posh one) who decided that there's no better way to celebrate victory than by taunting a parody account of one of the opposition strikers. Awkward. And while west London's finest seemed to be upset with Russell Slade's post-match suggestion that they celebrated like they'd won a cup final, this pre-match tweet from Scott James Whittart reveals that the Orient manager got it spot on: "Surely if we win it'll be one of our greatest weekends ever in our history." Yep: #bigclub

YouTube video of the week... This beauty unearthed by Neil Irvine in which Barry Hearn endangers his own life in the aid of positive PR for Orient, and a young Matt Porter proves that awkward, gangly teenagers can one day make it to the top.

13 March 2014

GUEST POST! Port Vale 0 Leyton Orient 2, 11/3/14

I tried to get to this game by boat, until it turned out there is no port in Port Vale - let alone a vale. But don't worry, because Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - had no such transport issues and gave this account of the game...

Jakupovic, Cuthbert and Clarke
A game which... witnessed a sight rarer than Lord Lucan riding Shergar (no, not an Os away win, we’ve been spoilt with those this season, making up for almost the entire 90s), but a goal for our very own northern rock Nathan Clarke. It brought his Os career tally to a magnificent  1 in 70 matches.

A frenetic end-to-end contest on an expansive pitch also featured a moment of class from Mooney, Moses and Cox, combined with the kind of staunch defensive rear guard action that would have kept the Guns of Navarone out, never mind the best efforts of Vale’s Pope and Loft.

The Os looked slick, but after the break Vale had two goals disallowed. In both cases the officials called it early but it spurred Vale on as Myrie-Williams, Loft and Pope were a constant threat, but brilliant goalkeeping, defending and a Clarke header settled it to make it 22 wins for the season and the perfect lead into the crunch clash with Brentford.

Moment of magic... Despite Dean Cox’s sublime finish it needs to go to Lloyd James’ point blank defensive header off the line. It kept the one-goal lead at a time when Orient were under significant pressure and typified the courageous and steely determination displayed by the Orient backline all game.

Moment of madness... In the closing stages, Chris Dagnall burst through with only the keeper to beat but bizarrely scuffed his shot wide. It would have allowed all Os fans to breathe easily rather than endure a stressful end to the game, even though Dagnall’s effort couldn’t be faulted. As one fan described it: “He’s worked hard all game, but if it had been 0-0, I would have gone on the pitch and punched him.”

Top gun... Eldin Jakupovic made numerous brilliant saves, which is becoming the norm for the big Bosnian (and prompting a surge in Bosnian flag sales which should be in evidence on Saturday). However, notable mentions for Clarke, Omozusi, Cuthbert and a massively improved Sawyer who worked tirelessly to keep a very quick, fit and determined Port Vale at bay.

Don't let the sad eyes fool you
Little donkey(s)... Boomer the Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Port Vale’s mascot, who's about as friendly as the “Home Fans only” pubs. He started off the “banter” by urinating on both of Orient’s goalposts before having a pop at fans. Good to see the novelty buffoon head in paws at the end!

In the dugout... Slade rarely gets it wrong these days, and set up to take advantage of the width on a decent pitch. Mooney provided intelligence and spark up front and the Os' attack looked purposeful all game. The only forced change was Bartley for Vincelot, while Batt’s arrival for Mooney on 73 provided something different as it always does, and the leggy forward stretched Vale in the closing stages.

View from the opposition... Port Vale manager Micky Adams was pretty much spot on with his observations: "We just didn't have the luck in front of goal that you need from time to time, and their keeper played particularly well, especially in the second half. We are disappointed to come away with nothing, but we have given them a good game."

Tweet of the week.... According to Joe de Freitas, our very own Battman fancies himself as Andy Warhol. Make your own mind up…

10 March 2014

GUEST POST! Notts County 0 Leyton Orient 0, 8/3/14

Much as I'd have loved to have travelled 1,000 miles to watch Orient draw 0-0 with Notts County, I, erm, didn't. But never mind: Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - loves a hearty goal-less draw. Here's his account of the game...

Meadow Lane
A game which... resembled two men in sumo suits wrestling in a paddy field. Yup, the best thing about this game was the weather, which was so balmy that the Notts County ground staff spent 30+ minutes using sprinklers before the game. Add into the mix poor refereeing and you have all the ingredients of a scintillating game of one-touch passing football… or at least my neck hurts from watching the ball spend most of its time being hoofed aimlessly into the air.

After a 6-0 spanking at Rotherham the previous week, Notts set up in order not to get beaten with five in midfield. Tactically it worked as the Os were outnumbered in a scrappy battle. Orient failed to get their passing going on the ridiculous pitch, giving the ball away when in possession and looked second best for the first half despite improving in the second.

Save for a Moses Odubajo shot that clipped the bar, Orient were sloppy in possession and had no answer to a dogged Notts County team. They will need to be much better if they want to hold on to a place in the top two.

Moment of magic... In an homage to International Women’s Day, I took a trip to Hooters (for those who don’t know, it’s a tacky wine bar/bistro place full of women in tight tops and hot pants. Disclaimer: it is near the ground). This was preceded by a drink in Ye Olde Trip to Jerusalem (which claims to be the oldest drinking establishment in Britain, founded in 1189 AD and frequented by Richard I’s Crusaders on their way to Jerusalem). It was real sublime to the ridiculous cultural pub-hopping and better than any of the rubbish served up by either team.

Moment of madness... Apart from Scott Cuthbert almost giving Notts a first-minute head start (he did improve), today it goes to the groundsmen for some 1950s/60s-style sabotage, watering a terrible churned up pitch for a lengthy period of time before the game and at half time, that effectively destroyed any chance the game had of being a passable footballing spectacle.

Top gun... Few players stood out in this attritional hoof-fest but once again Eldin Jakupovic looked solid and confident in goal and dealt comfortably with anything that came his way. Shaun Batt is worthy of note too as Orient looked far more dangerous once he came on in the 71st minute as he time and again wrestled his way through a determined Notts rear-guard.

Notts County's Jack Grealish
Little donkey(s)... There are two candidates for this award. Jack Grealish, the young Aston Villa winger clearly fancies himself as Joey Essex. With his socks rolled down and petulant swagger, it took all the patience of saints for the Os players to avoid hacking him down after several  dives.

Gary Sawyer, meanwhile, looked hopelessly out-of-his-depth against a marauding Jamal Campbell-Ryce (the best player on the pitch) who easily looked a class above his opposite number at full back. Maybe it’s hard to blame Sawyer against an excellent opponent, but several times Clarke and Cuthbert had to cover for the hapless full back, who had his worst game since the Bristol City home defeat.

In the dugout... Russell Slade set his team out to win the game, whereas Notts set out not to lose with a 4-5-1 formation. Combined with an abysmal pitch and some below par performances from the Os, it’s hard to see what more Slade could have done. However, he is going to have to figure out a plan B to win games as each match becomes more vital for every team in the final run of the season and relegation-threatened teams shut-up shop.

The introduction of Shaun Batt improved Orient, but there were too many below-par performances coupled with injuries that prevented the Os turning one point into three.

View from the opposition... Silver fox Shaun Derry praised his players and set the world record for the use of the word “honest” in his post-match analysis. If honest means turning the game into a scrap on a quagmire of a pitch to prevent the other team playing football, then I agree. He has a very “honest” team.

Tweet of the week... I’m still laughing five whole days after this appeared from Dan. If you know WTF this is please let me know, but I think it has something to do with a connection between Orient and dragons (Oriental). Either way, it is mental, and I want it as a poster!

02 March 2014

GUEST POST! Leyton Orient 2 Colchester United 1, 1/3/14

Once again I was resigned to following this game via Twitter and Orient Player from a tattoo parlour in Berlin. It's ok though, because Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - actually turned up to Brisbane Road. Here's his account of the game...

A game in which... Orient displayed more perseverance and unwavering faith in their cause than a Jehovah’s Witness on your doorstep. It was also so end-to-end it resembled ping pong rather than football.

In the first half Orient ran rings around Colchester’s statuesque Magnus Okuonghae and Tom Eastman – who showed all the mobility of the Easter Island heads - to go into the break one-nil up thanks to a sublime finish from David Mooney.

However, Colchester outmuscled and at times outplayed Orient in the second half and equalised from a header. But just five minutes later fresh-legged substitute Shaun Batt pelted up the pitch, outstripping the Colchester team to slot the ball to Moses Odubajo, who showed great composure to hammer the ball under Walker. Job done.

Moment of magic...With the rest of the Orient team still seemingly in the changing room at half time, Eldin Jakupovic made a stunning triple-save from Us’ midfielder Gavin Massey: first down low to his left, then in the middle of the goal, then down to his right in the space of 10 seconds to keep the game at 1-0 to the Os and proving why Os fans were so right to celebrate his return.

Moment of madness... The moment former Os favourite Jabo Ibehre decided to get a personalised number plate on his smart-looking Audi Q7 (as spotted by Oliver Buck). “What happened to the green Punto?” tweeted fan Phil Waughman in reference to the striker’s less affluent days at the Orient. Jabo is still much-loved by Os fans though, and at one point turned away from five Orient players with trickery to come away with the ball - something we never saw at Brisbane Road and something I don't think he expected to do either.

Top gun... Bosnia's number one Eldin Jakupovic takes the plaudits, despite excellent performances from Mooney, James, Cox and Odubajo, and dogged determination throughout the team. The Vincent Vega lookalike saved almost everything thrown at him and even came close to stopping Colchester's goal, getting a valiant hand to try and keep Bean’s header out, as it just nudged in off the post.

Little donkey… Colchester's immobile back line resembled a flotilla of rusty battleships, but the most inept was former Orient loanee left back Ryan Dickson, who tripped over his own feet while trying to take a throw-in to a raucous chorus of "F**king useless" from the Os faithful. That pretty much summed up his day against Moses, who took his goal tally to 10 for the season.

In the dugout... Once again Russell Slade got it spot on, opting for the stronger physical pairing of Mooney and Lisbie up front, who held the ball up well against a very physical back line. Changes were mostly forced, with Mooney getting a knock to be subbed for Batt, and Lloyd James, who put in a Trojan-like shift in midfield, replaced by the more defensive Marvin Bartley. Orient counter-attacked with real purpose and Batt’s introduction was critical in winning the game for Orient.

View from the opposition... Colchester’s fans (the ones who didn’t smash up the seats) were generally gracious about the defeat in what was a superb game of attacking football. Col U manager Joe Dunne claimed the best side lost, which is a bit far-fetched. Dunne said: “Two switch-off moments have cost us but unfortunately, that’s what you get when you’re (playing a) top of the league (side).”

Tweet of the week... Our very own Latin scholar Assissi supported chief exec Matt Porter’s request that “This group never gives up” should be translated in to Latin and copyrighted as our motto for the season”.  Can’t see it catching on as a South Stand chant, though…
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