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!

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