16 May 2014

Play-off semi final: Leyton Orient 2 Peterborough United 1, 13/5/14

A game in which... everything finally made sense for Orient fans: all those bitterly cold 0-0 draws with Macclesfield; those long, gruelling trips to Carlisle to watch us lose 5-0; the toothless capitulations to lower league opposition in cup competitions; and the entire reign of Paul Brush... All that was worth it for this: a night of glorious payback courtesy of our gutsy, resilient, never-say-die squad and their heroic manager.

Something is different in the east London air this season - and I don't just mean Kevin Dearden's ongoing flatulence issues. It feels like this brilliant team genuinely has the talent, momentum and belief to go all the way. Or, as Russell Slade himself put it: "We're not just going to Wembley to make up the numbers." 

Let's all pile in on Coxy 
Moment of magic... The celebration that followed Dean Cox's opening goal in which the diminutive winger was descended upon by all his team mates and half of the North Stand. It looked dangerous: like the entire sumo wrestling community of Tokyo had inexplicably decided to attack a small guinea pig. That Tiny came out alive is a miracle. 

Moment of madness... When, in the fifth minute of injury time, Chris Dagnall decided that instead of herding the ball into a corner he'd unleash a loose speculative shot at the Peterborough goal, almost as if he hadn't seen - let alone played - a single second of football in his entire life. The Scouse goal hero apparently explained his folly in his post-match interview, but all I could make out was a repetitive high-pitched screech tempered occasionally with a word I believe to be "cheese".

Top gun... All of them. Really, all of them. This was a performance of collective brilliance and commitment. Admittedly the spectre of history loomed large in the dying minutes when it almost looked like 'new Orient' were going to revert to 'typical Orient' and blow their two-goal lead with all the staggering carelessness of a Euro Millions lottery winner who accidentally leaves his ticket on the bus while on the way to collect his cash. Thankfully they held firm, and were even confident enough to let Peterborough's Craig Alcock have a free shot on goal in the last action of the game. 

In the dug out... You have to hand it to Russ: he's got a sense of humour. Why else would he have played right back Syam Ben Youssef up front in 2012 or signed Marc Laird? His pre-match interview with Sky Sports was classic Slade:

Interviewer: Have you practised penalties?
Slade: Of course.
Interviewer: Are you confident you can win if it comes to that?
Slade: Not from what I've seen.

View from the opposition... You could make a book out of a season's worth of increasingly hollow tweets from the Peterborough trolls. However, that book would be the worst book ever printed, the literary equivalent of an embarrassing uncle still desperately trying to get a laugh by placing his glasses slightly askance on his face. Still, respect to all their proper fans at Brisbane Road who kept up a relentless chant of "When the Posh go steaming in" throughout the game. Good luck "steaming in" to the likes of Fleetwood Town or Burton Albion next season, lads.

Tweet of the week... Respect to the legend that is John Mackie, who's currently in the process of trying to round up the 2005/06 promotion-winning squad via Twitter for a trip to the play-off final. John tweeted this picture of the team in Las Vegas, where they appear to have been photo-bombed by a pasty white English guy on a stag do... Oh, no, hang on, that's Joe Keith. It seems there's one member of the squad who won't be getting an invite though: Joe Dolan. "He joined the year after," clarified John, who has perhaps erased from his mind the full horror of Joe's two appearances in the 2005/06 promotion season. Awkward. 
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