|"He's left Scott Cuthbert on the bench!!!"|
Anyway, the players tried to make sense of the latest strategy, which I'm going to generously describe as 4-3-3, and actually fashioned a few chances in the opening minutes. These mostly came through the endeavour of Jay Simpson, almost as if the ex-Premier League striker might have come in useful in the preceding 15 games in which he was mostly sat on the bench. Hey ho.
Still, unsurprisingly Orient failed to convert anything until Swindon – who appeared to be deliberately trying to lose the game – gifted us a penalty and got their goalkeeper sent off. Lloyd James is of course the Os most reliable spot-kicker so it was with grinding inevitability that he chose this moment to miss.
Following that Swindon did everything in their power to gift Orient a goal, until finally figuring out that the only reliable way to do so was to just give the ball to Dean Cox and let him do the rest. He duly obliged.
And so, with 45 minutes to go and results in other games going our way Orient were halfway to safety. What was needed was one of Fabio Liverani's legendary team talks – a stirring call-to-arms translated by Rob Gagliardi while he teased the tangles out of his hair in front of a full-length mirror.
Matt Baudry gave away a pointless foul on the edge of the box. Swindon scored. Fabio Liverani switched to 5-3-1-1. Swindon scored again. The players looked to the manager for some indication of what they were supposed to be doing. He responded by playing Scott Cuthbert and Matt Baudry up front. The final whistle blew. Orient were relegated.
Did we deserve it? One hundred per cent. If you spurn a two-goal lead against a 10-man reserve team with nothing to play for then you're asking for it really. If you can't win a single one of your last seven games when relegation is staring you in the face, then you can't really complain. (And, looking at the final league table, just one victory in one of the games we lost would've kept us safe.)
Let's leave the final word to ex-CEO Matt Porter, who knows a thing or two about football, and a thing or two about Orient: "Dear oh dear. No words to describe what a waste of a perfectly good football club and a completely avoidable situation this is. Devastated."