28 April 2014

GUEST POST! Leyton Orient 2 Tranmere Rovers 0, 26/4/14

My record of games I've come back from Berlin for is played three, lost three. So you're actually much safer in the hands of Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - who filed this report from Brisbane Road... 

A game in which... Fresh from back to back defeats (one deserved and one not), Orient decided to shake the sand out of their regular season flip flops and cruise to a comfortable win against a Tranmere team that usually comes to Brisbane Road to mess things up at this time of the season.

Orient played the same neat passing football that they did against Wolves, but were seemingly feeling charitable in the final third, as time and again Cox and Mooney failed to conjure up anything convincing against a nervous and indecisive Tranmere team. True, the visitors played much better in the second half, but never really put a telling or dangerous ball into the box as veteran striker Ryan Lowe seemed more intent on trying to start a fight with angry Scotsman Scott Cuthbert. Only going to be one winner there, Ryan…

Moment of magic... Chris Dagnall decided that the best thing to do with Tranmere keeper Owain Fon Williams’ miskick was to hammer a stunning 40-yard shot into the far corner of an unguarded net. It was an outrageous and sublime piece of skill that had it been Rooney or Beckham you would never stop hearing about it, but as it was Orient it'll probably never be mentioned again. Either way, it was Orient’s best long range effort since Dean Cox decided to mock Walsall by scoring from the halfway line.

Moment of madness… David Mooney must have received a bang on the head at some point during the game, because he decided that he was going to try and score directly into his own net with a full stretch diving header that scraped by Jamie Jones’ post from a Tranmere corner. It had fans scratching their heads and hoping that Orient are never so short of personnel that he has to play centre back.

Top gun...  Once again on-loan Everton midfielder John Lundstram was the standout performer, working tirelessly and linking Orient’s play together. Romain Vincelot also put in one of his finer performances, busy and industrious, winning the ball back for Orient with a dogged display that resulted in one of our more comfortable victories this season.

Shaun Batt
Little donkey... With the stature of a giraffe, legs of gazelle and coordination of a hippo, Shaun Batt looks and plays like something conceived in mad professor Frankenstein’s  laboratory in an attempt to create the perfect footballer. Sadly, “Battman” never has the same impact when he starts as he does when emerging from the bench and yesterday was no different. His running and general presence got him into good positions a few times, but with a complete inability to decide what to do with the ball once he gets into those positions, it’s not a lot of use.

In the dugout... Orient’s bald tinkerman is busy preparing his dossier for prospective opposition ahead of Orient’s playoff charge. “We call it the war room and have a picture of Winston Churchill on the wall, as he was up against great odds,” Russell Slade told reporters, prompting hysterical laughter. Slade had to make changes to compensate for the lack of any proper full backs (sorry Gary Sawyer) so Moses Odubajo dropped in at right back as Cuthbert came back into central defence with Baudry out. As a result Orient looked more like a 4-3-3 with Batt playing as a wide third striker, suggesting Slade may be trying a plan B for the play-offs, until he brought on James in the second half and reverted back to a more conventional 4-4-2.

View from the opposition... Ronnie Moore wasn’t available for comment as he was down the bookies, but his replacement manager John McMahon bemoaned the mistakes by his team, in particular Owain Fon Williams, conveniently forgetting the fact that the Welshman made a brilliant one handed stop to keep the game at 1-0 in the second half.

Fancy Dress of the week... It’s the last away game of the season so what do you do? Dress as a bunch of wooden Gerry Anderson puppets, obviously.  It’s what he would have wanted. Yup, it was Hartlepool’s last away game of the season, a quick hop down to Plymouth, so in traditional fashion several hundred decided to dress as Thunderbirds. A bit more PC than 2011's Oompa Loompas, eh lads?

22 April 2014

Leyton Orient 1 Wolverhampton Wanderers 3, 21/4/14

Chris Dagnall
A game in which... at the 35-minute mark Orient experienced a spiritual awakening, a collective 
consciousness or a divine intervention. Call it what you will, but one way or the other the team suddenly realised that if they actually pass the ball to each other rather than lobbing it over the top for Chris Dagnall to scamper after like an amphetamine-induced laboratory rat, they're actually quite good

Never mind that we ultimately lost the game to the division's best side, for there was enough in this committed performance to give hope that we actually could prevail in the play-offs. And, after the Crawley debacle, that is something to get very excited about.

Moment of magic... The ping-ponging goalmouth scramble in the second half that saw Orient create 37 chances to score in the space of three seconds, most of which were prevented by either the woodwork or the frankly superhuman efforts of Wolves goalkeeper Carl Ikeme. Luck will be a big factor in the play-offs, and thankfully Orient may well have used up their entire lifetime's quota of the bad variety in just this one passage of play. 

Wolves' Richard Stearman
Moment of madness... The moment the referee and linesman elected not to penalise Wolves' Richard Stearman for a handball so blatant that he might as well have bounced the ball down the pitch basketball-style, done a couple of wraparounds and slam-dunked it into Jamie Jones's net.  

Top gun... Dean Cox was in his element today - and by that I mean the game was being televised - and for a 15-minute period at the start of the second half he was utterly unplayable. And by that I mean he got some decent crosses in. I must confess, however, to being slightly bemused by the free role he appears to have been given of late when all the evidence (and by that I mean my totally subjective opinion) suggests he's more effective hugging the touchline and cutting in from the left. 

Little donkey... Actually David Mooney played pretty well today, but he did miss two screaming sitters which, had he dispatched both, would have given an Orient striker 20 league goals in a season for the first time since the year 1426, when Mad Bartholomew Chudderley showed considerable skill in repeatedly scoring with the severed pig's head wrapped in muslin that at that time served as the ball.

In the dug out... Amazing scenes at the final whistle when Kevin Dearden elected to get off of his seat and waddle out to congratulate the Wolves players on their promotion. Unfortunately by the time Orient's Head of Nutritional Sustenance reached the centre circle the opposition's team coach was just approaching the outskirts of Birmingham. Still, he should make it in time to acknowledge Tranmere's efforts in avoiding the drop on Saturday. 

View from the opposition... Decent lot the Wolves fans, who by and large have been pretty respectful about their one-season stay in League One, unlike some other supporters who shall remain nameless (Peterborough). For example: "Fair play to Orient today," wrote Harry Carr. "Gave us a real game. Good luck in the play-offs."

YouTube video of the week... Hardly an event goes by these days without someone making a Hitler parody video of it - there's even an Orient one mocking our disastrous start to 2011/12. This week Brentford fan Russell Hawes got in on the act and created this version that mocks Russell Slade and his badly-received post-match comment that the Bees "celebrated like they'd won the FA Cup" after their victory over Orient in March. 

19 April 2014

Crawley Town 2 Leyton Orient 1, 18/4/14

A game in which... it was proved that in millions of years' time, as the dying embers of the sun throw their last feint light on our doomed planet, an Orient team of the future will still be losing to Crawley. Yep, it's played four, lost four against this glorified Conference side and, to be honest, Orient aren't likely to beat anyone in this sort of form. Except Gillingham, obviously.

Let's keep things in perspective: we're in the play-offs (yay!) and it's certain that there Orient will not put in the sort of tired, lacklustre performance they did at the Checktrade.com stadium. But one win in seven is a worrying statistic and by the time 10 May comes around this marvellous group of players will need to find some extra reserves of energy to try to get us over the final hurdle.

Moment of magic... Shaun Batt's brilliant, heavily-disguised dummy in the dying seconds which, to anyone who's watched more than seven seconds of football in their entire life, might have looked like a jaw-droppingly embarrassing air kick but in fact was a ploy that allowed the ball to run through to an unmarked David Mooney. Probably.

Moment of madness... Crawley's second goal, in which Adam Drury was afforded so much space and time in the Orient penalty area it's a wonder he didn't pop to the local shops and back to get a few things in for the Bank Holiday weekend while he was waiting for the ball to plop on to his head.

Top gun... Selecting a man of the match is a tough one, as this was a performance of collective mediocrity. Let's give it to Jamie Ness, then, purely on the basis that in only being on the pitch for a few minutes, he had less opportunity to give the ball away than the rest of the team. Still managed it a couple of times though, to be fair.

Mathieu Baudry
Little donkey... Oh Mathieu Baudry. Whereas usually the Frenchman dismisses the advances of League One strikers with nothing more than a slight drop of the shoulder and an inquisitively-raised eyebrow, today his performance stunk like a rotting block of Camembert. One pass in particular - straight to an onrushing Crawley attacker (don't know which, so let's pretend it was Gary Alexander) - was the poorest example of French decision-making since Napoleon Bonaparte announced "I reckon we can take Waterloo" in 1815.

In the dug out... "We still pushed them all the way," said Russell Slade after the game which, even if true, is a somewhat underwhelming ambition for a team challenging for promotion playing against mid-table strugglers. Still, the big man is toying with his tactics, resting players and presumably has his mind on the play-offs, so we shouldn't be too hard on him. Though it has to be said: we're not going to get very far if our only tactic whenever Chris Dagnall is playing is to boot the ball over the top and watch him scuttle after it like a minor-league Toxteth drug dealer on the run from the bizzies.

View from the opposition... "Kyle McFadzean is my John Terry," said Crawley boss John Gregory after the game, presumably not implying that his central defender is a racist adulterer. But he did go on to say that playing Orient would be "incredibly difficult", suggesting his scouts may well have attended the Gillingham game, but probably not Bradford.

Not Dean Cox
Tweet of the week... "Not everyday I get stopped in south woodford and asked if I want some weed" tweeted  Dean Cox this week, presumably furious he couldn't find the coke, pills and ketamine he was actually after. I jest, of course, if you happen to be reading this and you're a lawyer. It was actually growth hormones he wanted.

17 April 2014

"This team are more like brothers than team mates" - Errol McKellar interview

As one of the longest-serving members of the Orient backroom staff, Errol McKellar has seen a few things. 

Here the youth coach gives his insiders’ view on the success of this season, the challenges of bringing through young players and why he offers customers a 20 per cent discount at his car garage if they get checked out for prostate cancer...

Errol, so far this is the most successful season in your 16 years at Orient. What’s the secret of this success?
I’d say this management team is very close to being as strong as it gets. Russell Slade is exceptional in getting players to raise the bar in whatever they’re doing. And the team spirit: they’re more like brothers than team mates. They’re very close – I don’t think there’s anything they can’t achieve.

Moses Odubajo, who came through our youth system, has been a vital component of the team this season. What are the challenges to bringing more players like him through at Orient?
Our programme is very strong. We’re a small club, but what we can say to people is that if you come here, you have a chance of playing in the first team. We’ve been fortunate in that we’ve always had managers who are brave enough to give younger players a chance. If they’re good enough they work with the first team. If we can produce two or maybe three players a year that make it through then that means it’s working for us.

You’ve worked with some great players in your time – David Beckham, Ledley King... erm, Billy Jones. Who’s been the most impressive?
Well, I worked with David Beckham from when he was eight until 12 years old. I coached Sol Campbell, Ashley Cole... I worked with Kevin Lisbie for two years as a youngster. It’s hard to say who’s the best. But I’m passionate about the players I work with at Orient. It’d be unfair for me to single one out.

Errol in action for Men United
You’ve been heavily involved with Prostate Cancer UK after suffering from the disease yourself. When were you first diagnosed?  
I was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010 after my wife insisted I go to the doctor to help sort out my snoring. While I was in the waiting room I picked up a leaflet which was encouraging men to take a PSA test, which can detect early signs of the disease. Little did I know the next 10 minutes would change my life. The test indicated some problems and it amplified from there: they told me my prostate was covered in cancer and that it had to be removed.  Thankfully four years later I’m still here.

And you now offer a discount to customers at your garage if they get themselves checked out...
Well, I wanted to turn a negative into a positive. I give people a 20 per cent discount at my car garage in Hackney if they go and have the PSA test done. In the last two years 24 people that have come in have been diagnosed with the same problem. What’s frightening is one in eight men will get prostate cancer – and one in four Afro-Caribbean men. This test takes 10 minutes – it’s a simple blood test – and if there’s a problem it’s better if it’s dealt with early.

Lawrie McMenemy presents Errol with the
man of the match award for Men United
You played for Prostate Cancer UK’s Men United team against a Parlimentary XI at the Den. Did you pull any Dean Cox-esque moves?
Put it this way. We were winning 4-0 at half-time. Then I went in goal for the second half and we lost 6-5.

Sounds like the sort of thing Orient would do...
Well, the good thing was that the MPs were donating another £100 for every goal they scored. One of them lobbed me from the halfway line. I still got man of the match though!

What’s been your proudest moment as an Orient employee?
It was when my stepson Aiden Palmer made his debut at Oxford in 2004. He gave proof to the fact that young players can come through and make it to the first team. But everything about the club makes me proud. The support that Orient have given me since I was diagnosed with prostate cancer has been amazing.

For more about Errol's battle with prostate cancer check out his interview with ex-O Leon McSweeney

If you want to find out more about prostate cancer visit Prostate Cancer UK

Help beat prostate cancer by joining Men United ... and if you're feeling really motivated why not get involved in the London to Amsterdam challenge, which begins at Brisbane Road on Friday 6 June

This year Prostate Cancer UK also asked bloggers from all over the country to nominate the Football League's Greatest Captain. Here's my attempt to convince everyone it should be Orient's Steve Castle 

Prostate Cancer UK's Men United football team
Errol prepares for action 

13 April 2014

GUEST POST! Leyton Orient 5 Gillingham 1, 12/4/14

There are many reasons why I was unable to attend yesterday's game against Gillingham. Most of them involve the fact I'm currently in Berlin with no passport (long story). Luckily Andy Brown - Orient blogger for WAGU and The Two Unfortunates - loves a dead rubber and rocked up to Brisbane Road to give his views on the game...

A game in which... a beautiful princess awoke from a deep and disturbing two month slumber after a kiss from a handsome prince… Or the Orient version where I can only assume the Nando’s chicken (fresh from Monday’s charity efforts) snogged David Mooney, inspiring the misfiring striker to a splendid (almost offside-free) performance, because this was the Os back to their scintillating best.

With the monkey of automatic promotion off their backs, Orient played like men free of fear and utterly possessed in a first half display of total domination that was as good as any they have put in this season. Playing the kind of passing football that has been devoid of late, the Os put a hapless Gillingham team to the sword, prompting a chorus of “you might as well go home” and “easy, easy “from the South Stand as early as the 35th minute.

Dean Cox II: Electric Boogaloo
Moment of magic... Dean Cox. For his stunning twenty yard strike to make it 2-0? Nope? For his 42 goals and 62 assists in 4 seasons at Orient? Nope. For his breakdancing spectacular as he raced to keep a ball in by the touchline, a feat that would have put The Rocksteady Crew to shame? Hell yes!  Get that man on Soccer Am.

Moment(s) of madness... David Mooney was only caught offside twice all game by my reckoning, and spent the rest of it putting in the kind of performance that has typified his brilliant season, rather than his recent below-par showings. His first, a clinical slot under the keeper, an assisted lay-off for Orient’s second and a top corner drive for Orient’s third, this was Mooney at his absolute best. It puts him at 20 goals for the season - the first time since an Orient player has achieved this since Jamie Cureton. (Not really, Carl Griffiths, I think.)

Top gun... Other than Mooney and Lisbie, and superb performances from Odubajo and Cox, it was Everton loan man John Lundstram pulling the strings in midfield that was the key reason behind such a dominant performance. Despite five in midfield, Gillingham couldn’t live with his passing and movement, and his link play with Vincelot, Cox and Odubajo was a joy to watch.

Little donkey(s)... The entire Gillingham team, who were even told by their own fans to “jog on” in no uncertain terms at the final whistle. But it gives me great pleasure to single out standout offenders, West Ham “academy” product Joe Martin and Southend “reject” carthorse Adam Barrett for special treatment as both players were embarrassed all afternoon.

In the dugout... “It was a really dominant performance and we were clinical and ruthless in our finishing” commented Russell Slade after the game. He wasn’t wrong - this was vintage 2013/14 Orient and Os fans will be hoping the team can take this form into the remaining four games of the season and the play-offs.

View from the opposition... Full credit to Gills fans for their chants of “easy, easy” after their consolation to make it 5-1. They took a sound beating pretty well before heading to the exits at 5-0, despite vocally requesting a full refund at 4-0. Steve Morris pretty much summed up their performance “We were absolute shite and you were awesome. Looked every bit a top team…”

Desperate times at Wycombe 
Tweet of the week... Things are bad at Wycombe. Really bad. They are staring possible relegation from League 2 in the face and it’s got so bad that they’ve resorted to depending on ex-O Dean “two left feet” Morgan to dig them out of trouble. This T-shirt - retweeted by the great man himself - is designed to make things a bit simpler for Gareth Ainsworth.
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