10 May 2014

Play-off semi-final: Peterborough United 1 Leyton Orient 1, 10/5/14

Peterborough prepare their pitch for today's game
A game in which... Peterborough did everything they could to stop Orient - ploughing their own pitch with an industrial-sized bulldozer, for example. Yes, this first leg proved exactly why the Os are in the play-offs as they took the game to the expensively-assembled home side and really should have come away with more than a draw.

The consequences of failing to win when dominant will become clear on Tuesday, but what's not in doubt is that this is a team burning with belief, desire and commitment.

Moment of magic... The moment in the second half when Mathieu Baudry, after riding a couple of tackles, began to stride majestically up the pitch like a returning French war hero leading a victory parade up the Champs-Elysees before spending the night in an expensive bordel. The move ultimately came to nothing, but it epitomised an epic performance from the central defender.

Moment of madness... The moment Kevin Lisbie - who, incidentally put in an awesome shift that belied his 56 years of age - found the ball popping up to him in front of goal in the first half. It was one of those at a height that makes a striker think "Should I volley it or head it?", although inexplicably Lis choose neither and instead opted for belly-flopping towards the ball like a fat kid trying to impress his classmates at the local swimming pool. It didn't work.

Top gun... Particularly excellent performances from Cuthbert, Baudry and (in the second half) Vincelot, but man of the match has to go to Moses Odubajo for a) a driving, penetrative 45 minutes down the right flank after half-time and b) somehow resisting the weight of Orient's entire history and not spooning his shot at an open goal over the bar.

Not quite so top gun... By his standards, John Lundstram had a disappointing game. At one point in the first half he gave away the ball four times in quick succession, the only explanation being that since he's been on loan so many times he literally forgot what team he was playing for. Either that or he was temporarily possessed by the ghost of Paul Terry.

In the dug out... You have to hand it to Russell, this season he's shown that he's not afraid to experiment when it comes to making substitutions. For example, sometimes he's brought Shaun Batt on with 20 minutes to go, and sometimes he's brought Shaun Batt on with 19 minutes to go. Today the manager went renegade, ripped up the rule book and brought Shaun Batt on with 21 minutes to go. It worked, mind, and the big striker was instrumental in Orient's equalising goal.

Orient's player budget for 2013/14
View from the opposition...  "Why does everyone think we come from money?" moaned the one-joke wind-up merchant
Secret Posh Fan, apparently without irony. "We spent just under £2 million on players this year." Yeah, we spent just under £2 on players this year, mate - and that was for a couple of packs of party poppers and a Twix to help the team celebrate securing a play-off place.

Tweet of the week... "Strange day today. No Prem games and no academy fixtures to watch," tweeted former Stoke City benchwarmer Michael Owen this morning, almost as if he had literally no idea that football existed beneath the Premier League. Next Tuesday: Michael expresses surprise when Sky Sports televises Leyton Orient v Peterborough: "Enjoying the Kabbadi from east London on TV tonight. In many ways, it seems to be a similar game to football."

Ready for the second leg? Read James Masters and me running the rule over the relative merits of Orient and Peterborough 
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