29 August 2015

Leyton Orient 2 Bristol Rovers 0, 29/8/15

A game in which... Orient couldn't have been more workmanlike if they'd played the entire 90 minutes drinking Tetley tea, bearing their bum cracks and shouting sexist insults at women. Remember this was a Bristol Rovers side that haven't lost away from home for a year and the Os needed to be at their most patient and efficient – and were excellent in controlling large parts of the game. Add the touch of class that comes in the human form of Jay Simpson and you're looking at a team who probably won't ever lose again. (Send your complaints to me marked "Jonah" after Luton stuff us 8-0 on Tuesday.)

Shane Lowry
Jump off your seat moment... Three of them actually, all courtesy of the aforementioned Jay Simpson. The goal, of course – by way of some crazy-paving footwork – and then two sliding, last-ditch tackles down the other end of the pitch that demonstrated his utter commitment to the cause. What a joy it is to see such a talented player giving it his all in League Two rather than sulking like a spoilt three-year-old girl upset that not enough people have praised her pigtails in the last four minutes. Or Shane Lowry, same difference.

Give that man a medal... Jay Simpson again, obviously, but let's focus for a moment on the excellence of Sammy Moore. Fans rightly worried that without Romain Vincelot not only would Orient be short of quality beards, but that we'd be playing in the Ryman Isthmian League Division One South by 2019/20. (You do the math.) Not so! AFC Wimbledon fans used to sing "He's here, he's there, he's everywhere" to Moore, and not just because he used to surreptitiously follow people home after matches. His industrious performances should be equally valuable to Orient this season.

Taxi for... Referee Darren Drysdale. If the RAF sergeant took the same approach to his day job as he does to officiating football matches then I suspect he would discharge half his squadron for unregulation eyebrows while the other half would be given medals of honour for mistakenly dropping bombs on their own airbase. What I am saying here is that he was woefully inconsistent. Still, at least he didn't try to launch his own clothing range called Superdrysdale. Oh hang on...

In the dug out... Ian Hendon actually utilised three different formations at different times in this game, much like Fabio Liverani, although probably not because he'd forgotten how many players make up a football team. What is becoming evident is that the manager is a Top Man in more ways than just his choice of suits. He actually seems to know what he's doing.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Our esteemed president's match day behaviour is becoming increasingly bizarre, from his walk on before the season opener to high-fiving fans from his blacked out limousine after the Dagenham game. Today, according to reporter John Walker, Sr Becchetti was jumping up and down in the tunnel after the match with the joyous abandon of someone who'd just evaded capture by the Albanian police force. What next: running round the touchline naked? Apologising for single-handedly relegating us? The mind boggles...

19 August 2015

Leyton Orient 3 Stevenage 0, 18/8/15

A game in which... Orient stared League Two in the face and said "You're not as hard as you think
you are, pal. And you can give me my dinner money back too." Yep, this tough, well-disciplined Stevenage side were a good indication of the type of school bullying we can expect in this division but the Os matched them in intensity during the first 70 minutes, albeit without fully hitting their stride.

That all changed in the final 20 minutes when Orient blew away the opposition with some breathtaking attacking and three goals: one good, another excellent and another that's already contender for goal of the season. Go straight to the top of the class Blair Turgott. And stop picking your nose.

Deano bringing his mazy run to a conclusion 
Jump off your seat moment... So many to choose from, not least Blair Turgott's aforementioned screamer – volleyed straight in from a Sean Clohessy cross, itself a volley – but let's focus instead on the moment Dean Cox decided to dribble around the entire Stevenage team 42 times each. Had he been able to finish from his ridiculously mazy run, it would have been the best goal scored by anyone in any sport in all time. Instead he decided that the only fitting coup de grâce would be to cut a couple of breakdancing moves on the penalty spot while the ball bobbled away to safety. Still, great helicopter.

Give that man a medal... Comparing Bradley Pritchard's performances of this season with last is like comparing the complete works of Beethoven to the sound of a spoilt six-year-old screeching for more sugar while repeatedly scraping her fingernails down a blackboard. And then vomiting. Tonight the former Charlton man made sweet, sweet music in midfield with another display that hit the right notes. (Honourable mentions too to Sean Clohessy and Sammy Moore.)

Taxi for... Dean Wells. It was certainly a novel move on Stevenage's part to place a convicted football hooligan in their squad and tonight the defender came up against the team whose fans he'd fought outside Liverpool Street Station in 2010. It seemed, however, that without his firm to back him up, Wells the Hooligan was all mouth and no Stone Island trousers. With the might of Ollie Palmer bearing down on him in injury-time he ran for cover, stumbled over then lay on the ground trembling in fear as the Orient striker slotted the ball into the net. Come and have a go if you think you're hard enough? Oh, you're not.

In the dugout... Given that he's now selected the same XI for three League games running, it would be easy to describe Ian Hendon as the polar opposite of Fabio Liverani. But then again, it would be easy to describe anyone with even the faintest notion that football is a sport in which eleven players try to get a ball into their opponents' net the polar opposite to Fabio Liverani. What is evidently true is that the new manager has engendered a team spirit and has got the squad enjoying playing football. Something that only the most depraved of masochists could have said of last season.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Respect to Pór Bæring Ólafsson for travelling all the way from Iceland – the country, not the shop – to watch his beloved Leyton Orient. He got to meet Francesco Becchetti, but it wasn't all bad because Pór also rubbed shoulders with Paul McCallum and witnessed the Os in superb form. What a top geyser. (Yeah, sorry, my Iceland material is pretty limited.)

09 August 2015

Leyton Orient 2 Barnet 0, 8/8/15

A game which... was preceded by a sort of 80s rock band reunion version of the Cheery Os, which saw Francseco Becchetti, Alessandro Angelieri, Ian Hendon and two other random blokes take to the pitch. But just as quickly as fans thought "Hey, I didn't know Flock of Seagulls had reformed" and meted out a mild ripple of token applause, they were gone again.

If we were underwhelmed by that, then the first half really let us down when Orient were out-muscled by a physical, if profligate, Barnet side and it became apparent there was a huge Romain Vincelot-shaped vortex in the middle of the pitch. But in the second 45 minutes the home side were transformed, almost as if the half-time team talk was delivered in the English language, and put the opposition under the cosh with some neat passing and attacking verve. Seeds of promise, then...

Jump off your seat moment... What a joy it was in Orient's first chance of the game to see Paul McCallum rather than David Mooney clean through on goal. "At least he's not just going to try to chip the keeper," thought every fan who'd been exasperated by our former striker's season-and-a-half's worth of failed lobs. Hearts sank when McCallum did actually try – and inevitably fail – to chip the keeper, though the new front man did redeem himself later when he stuck his laces through a fortunate rebound to put Orient 2-0 up. This is League Two lads – leave the showboating on the training ground.  

Give that man a medal... It's one of the immutable laws of physics that if Bradley Pritchard is within a five-mile radius of a football match his bodily matter will instantly teleport and rematerialise in the starting XI. And so it was with grinding inevitably that the fifth Orient manager in succession deemed the midfielder worthy of selection, and a typically lightweight first-half performance left fans once again scratching their heads as to why. In the second half, however, Pritchard showed what he could really do – which is play very short passes near the touchline to players better able to cross the ball. As such he was instrumental in both Orient goals and made a good case for further influence this season.

Martin Allen. That's not the sea: it's his sweat
Taxi for... Martin Allen. Although it would have to be a taxi in which the interior was entirely covered in water-resistant plastic tarpaulin, such was the rate at which sweat was cascading from every crevice of the Barnet manager's ample body. Particularly from his arse crack, interestingly, making his choice of beige chinos a particularly curious one. Either that or Mag Dog had genuinely shit himself at the prospect of facing Orient, which really would be a first for an opposition manager.

In the dugout... When Dean Cox finally departs this earth and is presumably playing in the Heaven FC first XI, what are the chances that even God thinks it's a good idea to play him at the tip of a diamond? And so it was that Ian Hendon – like every Orient manager before him – figured to himself: "Hey, Tiny is my best player so let's get him more involved and play him behind the strikers." NO, IAN, NO. THIS NEVER WORKS. It's like chucking a dwarf into the path of 11 onrushing juggernauts. Leave Coxy out wide, where he can do far more damage.

Meanwhile on Twitter... "Football is back!" tweeted an excitable Jamie Jones, almost as if he'd forgotten he's going to spend the whole season sitting on the bench. Still, that should leave him plenty of time to bait the fans of the club that paid his wages for five and half seasons, eh Scouse?
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