23 May 2014

Play-off final: The ten ways Orient can beat Rotherham

So in advance of Orient's biggest game in decades I thought I'd calm nerves by revealing 10 ways our east London heroes can win at Wembley. Worryingly I could only think of five. 

Luckily Os fan and Times journalist James Masters came up with another five, so together we present you the cold hard evidence that Orient will be in the Championship next season. Possibly. 

No need to dress up for the
Wembley cameras, Romain
1. Play the game, not the occasion
Yes it's Wembley, yes it's a big day out and yes, there will be half and half scarves, but it's important the players treat the game like any other. That means no waving to your loved ones on the way out of the tunnel, no stopping on the edge of the area to check out the big screen to see if your hair is in place and no smiling in the tunnel at your opponents. It's just another game. You're there to win - Wembley is not a place for losers.
James Masters

2. Out-sing the Millers
If you're one of the 19,000 new fans Orient seem to have acquired in the space of the week, you've got some catching up to do to learn all of our terrace chants. To be fair, that catching up will take you about seven seconds given we only have about three songs, but you'll need to sing them loudly and proudly to drown out the famously catchy Rotherham ditty "It's right grim oop north, but if thi'ivver does owt for nowt, allus do it for thissen".
Matt Simpson 

"We've got THIS much money!"
3. Don't mention the money
Steve Evans, who is rumoured to sleep in Egyptian cotton sheets, much to the dismay of the local UKIP councillors, hates nothing more than hearing how Rotherham have bought their success. The Millers have only paid for one player in their squad - one more than Orient, mind you. Forget the fact that chairman Tony Stewart has pumped in £30 million in the past five years and built a brand new stadium. Compare that to Orient who can't even get the Wi-Fi to work in the press box after running out of 10p pieces.
James Masters

4. Take out Revell 
Though there is no statistical evidence for it whatsoever, it is 100 per cent fact that all footballers score a goal whenever they play against a former club. Behold Rotherham's Alex Revell, then: he of chiselled jaw, ice-white teeth and one profitable season at Brisbane Road. The big striker has been strength training by trying to roll Steve Evans up a slight incline and will be a menace to Nathan Clarke and Mathieu Baudry throughout the final. Our defensive duo will need to be at their eye-bulging best.
Matt Simpson 

5. Don't concede early
You can't win the game in the first 10 minutes but you can certainly lose it. Don't start like Arsenal did last week at Wembley - still in the changing room with the headphones on whiling away time to what today's kids call "hip hop". Yes, Arsenal fought back but Orient probably aren't going to be able to bring Rosicky and Wilshere off the bench. Take a breath, stay calm and do what you've done all season. It's just another game.
James Masters 

Shaun Batt: unpredictable 
6. Unleash the Battman
When Russelll Slade brings Shaun Batt off the bench with 20 minutes to go - you can set your watch by it if you like - the Rotherham defence will know they're in for a rough time. The striker is delightfully unpredictable: sometimes, for example, he'll knock the ball 30 yards ahead of himself and then charge after it and sometimes he'll knock the ball 35 yards ahead of himself and charge after it. Two of Orient's three play-off semi-final goals were set up by the Battman, and he's sure to have a say in the final one way or the other.
Matt Simpson

7. Back our big man
Big games call for big game players and you won't find many men bigger than Kevin Dearden or Steve Evans. Dearden has grown into his role as a figure of fun, serenading fans with chants regarding his rather rotund waistline. Evans, whose list of misdemeanours is as long as his daily order a the local kebab shop, is far more prone to explode and lead to allegations of him pulling down his trousers. Wembley are apparently so concerned about the two men meeting that they've been given separate departure times to walk out the tunnel.
James Masters 

This guy's lined up to take a penalty for Orient
8. Do not let the game go to penalties
A word of advice: if the scores are still locked after extra-time you might as well cut your losses, leave early and beat the traffic rather than watch Orient lose a penalty shoot-out. The Os have already missed six out of 11 this season and in the vain hope of finding a reliable spot-kicker have rotated the duties between Mooney, Lisbie, Omozusi, James, Ada the groundsman and an 11-year-old boy who looked to have promise when he put one past Theo the Mascot in a sponsored shoot-out at half-time.
Matt Simpson

9. Keep it in the family
While Rotherham's "comical" duo the Chuckle Brothers might have got a giggle back in the 1990s with their famous "to me, to you" gag, Orient supporters the Lloyd-Webbers have brought the house down with their musical talent. While Julian chills out on the cello, Andrew has raked in the cash with Evita, Aspects of Love and Starlight Express - as well as Stephen Ward the musical, inspired by the Wolves and Ireland left-back. Nobody does a showstopper like Lloyd-Webber and his experience will be valuable to the Os on the biggest stage of them all - Wembley.
James Masters 

Robbie Simpson: secret weapon
10. Rely on our secret weapon
Every final needs a hero, and could it be that on Sunday that hero comes from the most unlikely place? Has Russell Slade been keeping Robbie Simpson well away from the pitch in the latter half of the season purely to preserve his strength and fitness for the ultimate play-off cameo? The answer is definitely no, but if Orient are losing with minutes to go, maybe - just maybe - the manager will throw one last roll of the dice and bring on Simpson. And then fate awaits...
Matt Simpson 

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