Leyton Orient have the looks, Peterborough have the money. But who is better placed to advance to Wembley through the play-off semi-finals?
I thought I'd find out by scientifically* matching up the teams' relative attributes. However, since it was only a week ago that I discovered Peterborough were actually in the same division as us – I thought they were in League Two – I know literally nothing about them. Luckily James Masters is a proper journalist for The Times and stuff, so he's written all the bits about the Posh players...
Jamie Jones versus Bobby Olejnik
Former Everton trainee Jamie Jones guards the Orient net like a Scouser fiercely protecting his six-pack of Tesco own-brand lager from fellow guests at a Toxteth house party. Take a shot at Jamie and he’ll almost certainly save it; drop a ball from a great height and he’ll almost certainly waft a punch at it like a nine-year-old girl half-heartedly trying to burst a pinata. But never mind that: Jones is Orient’s best goalkeeper in years – maybe ever – and his prowess could prove critical.
Bobby – or 'B.O' as the kids in the changing rooms at school are alleged to have called him – was born in Vienna where he became a national dancing champion with his famous waltz. Little Bobby’s quick dancing feet and 'can, can' attitude has made him a favourite at Posh where he was named player of the year and celebrated by busting moves to Haydn, Mozart and Schubert.
Nathan Clarke versus Jack Baldwin
A towering physique, threatening tattoos and a look of cold, hard terror in his eyes... which makes it all the more strange that when Nathan Clarke opens his mouth he sounds like an ageing bit-part actress from Coronation Street. Luckily the only words he needs to say on the pitch are: "Shit lads we’re losing, I’m going to luzz it into the mixer so get your fookin’ nonces on it." Not much gets past Orient’s Captain Fantastic, so the Posh will have their work cut out.
JB is the defensive rock – the young wolf who keeps the back door slammed shut. He cost £500,000 from Hartlepool earlier this season, a figure so large nobody in Leyton has ever managed to count to it. Balders, who ironically is well endowed in the follicle department, was actually born in Redbridge but was never welcomed at Orient – a club where there’s only room for one bald winner.
Romain Vincelot versus Michael Bostwick
Watching Romain Vincelot go about his job you’re minded not just of a footballer, but of an over-zealous French serial killer frantically trying to cover his tracks by eradicating all the witnesses to his many crimes. Yes, the immaculately-bearded midfielder is everywhere, tearing into opponents, breaking up their play and amassing enough yellow cards to build them into a full-sized replica of the Pyramids of Giza. This guy is immense.
Posh’s enforcer, known as 'The Boss' because of his unyielding desire for victory and not his range of Hugo Boss underwear, is well known to O’s supporters. It’s unclear whether Bostwick has taken out an injunction over what I’m about to tell you…but he used to play for Stevenage. I say play, he used to run up and down while the ball went over his head. Posh paid £800,000 for him – imagine how many Bovril lids Orient could buy with that.
The Prima Donnas
Dean Cox versus Nathaniel Mendez-Laing
Orient's diminutive winger has a special talent – and I don't just mean his ability to enter and leave buildings via the cat flap. So far this season Tiny has 15 goals and 13 assists - the most in League One - proving he's absolutely critical to the success of the Os. Recently Russell Slade has been playing Cox in a position called "just fucking run about and try to do something" rather than on the wing, but wherever he's stationed, he's sure to be a threat.
Pies, doughnuts and a lifetime supply of Ben and Jerry’s – those are just three of the guilty pleasures which may or may not have contributed to NML turning up to pre-season a bit heavier than he was supposed to. His talent has never been in doubt but neither has his ability to seek trouble – as he did in November 2012 when he was cautioned by police after a wild night out and promptly transfer-listed. It is unclear if he escaped by eating his way out of the cell.
David Mooney versus Britt Assomalonga
Over David Mooney's time at Orient he has metamorphosied from a slow-moving caterpillar – all criss-crossed legs and malfunctioning antennae – to a beautiful butterfly, soaring to the top of the League One scoring charts in the early part of this season. Since chipping the keeper at Swindon back in November, Moon's will now only ever attempt to score through the medium of a lob. Despite this he remains a major threat.
There are not many men fortunate enough to share a name with Jewish ritual circumcision but Britt is not any ordinary man. This guy, rather aptly, has so much cutting edge that he can scythe through the spurious bullshit espoused by UKIP on a daily basis. He cost a cool £1.5 million from Watford but his 17-point scrabble surname means he’s always a favourite at the local old-aged home.
Russell Slade versus Darren Ferguson
Legend has it that Russell Slade broke into football management only after erroneously turning up at Notts County's Meadow Lane when intending to interview for an assistant head of PE position at the nearby Nottingham Girls' High School. And when I say "legend", I mean I have made this up. But a lack of playing pedigree hasn’t stopped the balding Berkshire man from crafting a team of free transfers into Championship prospects – a feat that puts him right up there with the best football managers of the moment.
When Darren Ferguson retires he’d like to move to Turkey and become an expert in kebabs – that’s the word on the street in Leyton. What other explanation could there be for his constant presence in local haunt, Anatolia, on Leyton High Road, which even has its own shrine to Fergie in the gents toilets with a personalised hairdryer. It has also been revealed that every time Fergie washes his hands, he looks in the mirror, waves and says, 'Halloumi'.
And the final score?
Leyton Orient: 51/60
Peterborough United: 49/60
And THAT'S science so you can't even argue with it. Bring on Wembley!