29 September 2015

Leyton Orient 1 Carlisle United 2, 29/9/15

A game in which... the cracks in Leyton Orient became deep ravines, much in the way Andy
Hessenthaler's face has evolved over the years. For what might have previously been described as minor wobble has now become evidence that much more needs to be done if we're going to get out of this division.

Yes, yes we had loads of chances – approximately 478 in the first 15 minutes of the second half – but if you don't score them and then give away stupid goals it's futile to bemoan our luck. Especially for five games in a row. Jay Simpson is going to have off days, and Dean Cox can't score a wonder goal every week, so someone needs to figure out some other ways for Orient to win.

Jump off your seat moment... The moment when Andy Hessenthaler quite literally did jump off his seat in an apparent effort to play peacemaker in a mild verbal clash between Ian Hendon and Keith Curle. Turns out Orient's assistant boss is the world's worst peacemaker as his method of arbitration involved massively inflaming the situation then getting sent off. Next week: Hessenthaler attempts to reunite the Labour Party by punching Jeremy Corbyn and Liz Kendall in the face.

Give that man a medal... Poor Mathieu Baudry. Playing in League Two, he must feel like a sophisticated French epicurean forced to eat in an Aberdeen Angus Steak House every week. Against Carlisle tonight the centre back avoided metaphorically vomiting all over pitch (Connor Essam did that for him) and instead repeatedly chewed up and spat out the opposition attack. Nice goal too.

Taxi for... Is Ollie Palmer the new Shaun Batt / Jonathan Tehoué? By this I don't mean "Can he DJ?" or "Could he down a KFC Family Bucket in one gulp?", but rather: Is he a player that can only create impact off the bench? Because after a game-changing substitute appearance against Wycombe Wanderers, the big striker hasn't done much in his two subsequent starts, and tonight missed a couple of fairly presentable chances.

In the dug out... To diamond or not to diamond, that isn't the question according to Ian Hendon, who said after the game: "Don't talk to me about formations, pal, I got formations coming out of my arse. What we need is the rub of the green, and by that I mean I'm simply hoping that if I keep doing exactly the same thing over and over again then we might get lucky at some point. What's that expression about even a broken clock being correct twice a day? Well, I only need it to be correct once or sometimes twice a week, so we should be fine I think." I'm paraphrasing a bit here, obviously.

Meanwhile on Twitter... "Honeymoon period is over" tweeted fan BenLOFC after the match, quite correctly, though I'd suggest that if Orient's current form is a figurative post-wedding holiday then it is one in which the bride has run off with a local barman, the groom has third-degree sunburn and Olly Murs is the headline act at the hotel's cabaret night. On a more serious note, Orient clearly need more depth in their squad. I'd venture another striker, a more experienced left-back, and an additional winger. Think we're ok for central midfielders for the time being though...

20 September 2015

Leyton Orient 1 Wycombe Wanderers 1, 19/9/15

Action from Orient v Wycombe  
A game in which... Wycombe were so willing to wrestle Orient players to the ground yet feign injury at the mildest retaliation it would be no surprise if their entire squad were issued with spandex leotards and signed up for WWE Smackdown. I say this with only a little bit of massive disrespect because in many ways this was a consummate League Two performance from the away team and Orient were unable to match it for much of the game.

Luckily Ian Hendon has a plan B, which any idiot can see is much, much better than his plan A. So with the diamond ditched, substitute Ollie Palmer in immense form and the continued brilliance of Jay Simpson the Os managed to salvage a point. Can't complain when we're still top of the table, but Orient are going to need to better get to grips with the physical side of League Two if they're going to stay there.

Jump off your seat moment... There have been few times in Orient's history when fans could with near-certainty predict that if a striker had sight of goal, he'd score. Personally speaking I usually took the moment an Orient front man was put clean through as a cue to go get a cup of Bovril. No longer, for Jay Simpson is the lethal finisher we've been craving for years and today took his goal with typical panache.

"Stone Cold" Ollie Palmer 
Give that man a medal... If Wycombe Wanderers were pretenders to the WWE then Ollie Palmer was the real deal: a Stone Cold Steve Austin of League Two. In the 45 minutes that he was on the pitch the chiselled man-giant put in one of the most commanding, physical performances seen at Brisbane Road since the time Jonathan Tehoue piled in on Marc Laird for taking a spoonful of his half-time trifle.

Taxi for... The young lad – no doubt fuelled by nitrous oxide or insect urine or whatever it is the youth take for kicks these days – who decided to invade the pitch in the second half. Curiously no steward appeared to deem it necessary to intervene until it was finally left to a fluorescent-jacketed 92-year-old to stagger in slow motion towards the interloper, a scene eerily reminiscent of the entire Orient career of James Scowcroft.

"Come on Bradley, I'm sure you can manage 60 minutes"
In the dugout... Today Ian Hendon did not select Bradley Pritchard. Let that sink in for a moment, for it is the first time in Orient's 134-year history that the midfielder has not started and finished a game. Admittedly the former Charlton man was injured, but that didn't stop Fabio Liverani playing him on the wing on one occasion with two broken legs, third-degree burns and chlamydia. Man up Hendon! Aside from that, the manager claimed he was "delighted" with his team's performance, suggesting perhaps he was stuck in traffic until the 70th minute.

Meanwhile on Twitter... George Porter has been called up for England! No, not in his own mind. No, not on Fifa 16. Like, for real. Yep, the "Non-League Messi", as he's often referred to by no one but himself, got a call up to England C this week and wasted no time in boasting about it on Twitter. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Except Jamie Jones I suppose...

13 September 2015

Cambridge United 1 Leyton Orient 1, 12/9/15

"I think they're giant cats, Maureen" 
A game in which... Leyton Orient's urban-dwelling fans were utterly bemused by the sight of a herd of cows outside of Cambridge's Abbey Stadium. Were they giants cats? Radioactive guinea pigs? And why was a bloke who looked suspiciously like David Mooney trying and failing to hit them on the arse with a banjo?

While this confusion reigned, a football match broke out – to some extent anyway. Orient dominated for certain periods and probably should've scored more, but without the benched Dean Cox the quality of the final ball was noticeably lacking. A point away from home is never a disaster, but it's fair to say this wasn't a game that'll live long in the... what was I saying again?

Jump off your seat moment... The exquisite, floated pass from Mathieu Baudry – performed totally blindfolded – that put Jay Simpson through to score Orient's equaliser. Worth mentioning too how well the Frenchman and Connor Essam are complementing each other in central defence: Baudry the footballing equivalent of an evening of foie gras, Châteauneuf-du-Pape and a discourse on the merits of Descartes; Essam more 14 pints of Fosters, a curry and a visit to A&E.

Give that man a medal... Bradley Pritchard is apparently going to play every single second of every single Orient match until the end of time. But at the moment that is no bad thing for the midfielder is proving the value of having someone run around a lot and play very short passes to nearby team mates. Once again the former Charlton man was instrumental in much of the Os' more forthright football.

Frazer Shaw 
Taxi for... So far he's been excellent but today wasn't the best day for Frazer Shaw. Once past the halfway line, the left back's powers seemed to drain from him, like Superman faced with Kryptonite; Indiana Jones in a pit of snakes; or Francesco Becchetti in the company of an Albanian law-enforcer. The fine young player that he is, Shaw will come good again though.

In the dug out... With Coxy carrying a knock, Ian Hendon reverted to a formation often favoured by Fabio Liverani: the four central midfielder classic. Where the current manager differed from his predecessor is that a) he didn't also select four central defenders b) he's not insane. And while fans might liked to have seen Blair Turgott given more time on the pitch, the fact we're still sitting on top of the league table suggests Hendon does still have some idea what he's doing.

Meanwhile in the press room... Robbie Simpson cupcakes! I kid you not, and Orient commentator Dave Victor had the photographic evidence to prove it. They reportedly came in two flavours: mediocrity and despair, and fell to pieces as soon as they got anywhere near your mouth. *taps microphone* *winks*

02 September 2015

Johnstone's Paint Trophy: Luton Town 2 Leyton Orient 1, 1/9/15

These two were on the bench for Orient
A game which... Ian Hendon did everything in his power to lose. He wore a tracksuit; he selected a bench made of up three 11-year-olds and two unfortunate holidaymakers who'd got lost on the way to Luton Airport; he played Bradley Pritchard at left midfield for part of the game; he deliberately substituted off all his reliable penalty-takers when the game was level at 85 minutes... And yet still Luton wouldn't take the bait until they guaranteed themselves victory by going down to 10 men.

So, Operation Concentrate On The League ended perfectly for Orient. And while for obvious reasons it wasn't our most fluid performance of the season, there were also some encouraging moments from this makeshift, youthful team.

Jump off your seat moment... The moment in the first half when Luton's creaking behemoth of a centre back Stephen McNulty tried to shepherd the ball back to his keeper only for Scott Kashket to dart in front of him and nearly steal a goal. Indeed, the battle between the pair throughout the game was reminiscent of an ageing rhinoceros trying to lazily swat an irritatingly persistent dung beetle with his tail. What I'm saying here – the dung beetle comparison notwithstanding – is that Kashket was pretty good.

Give that man a medal... Since Joe Maguire only signed on loan from Liverpool yesterday, he obviously didn't get the secret memo from Ian Hendon that spelled out in morse code: "WE MUST LOSE THIS GAME BUT MAKE IT LOOK A BIT LIKE WE AT LEAST TRIED TO WIN BECAUSE I THINK IT'S ILLEGAL TO THROW GAMES." What else could explain the fact he actually looked pretty assured in central defence?

Jack Marriott: princess
Quiz question... If you're a professional footballer who's just missed a point blank header in front of the opposition fans, who then mildly goad you, do you: a) ignore them, being that you're a professional footballer b) ignore them, being that you're a professional footballer, then score your next chance to shut them up or c) sarcastically applaud them, stick your middle finger up then get sent off? If you answered c) then you're Jack Marriott, in which case what the hell are you doing reading this blog? You should be out doing things more consistent with your apparent level of maturity, such as playing peek-a-boo or dressing up as a princess from Frozen.

In the dugout... According to Ian Hendon, a number of players were taken ill before and during this game, including Sean Clohessy who came off at half-time. Did someone spike Orient's traditional pre-match meal of a massive fry up at a greasy spoon cafe? Did someone (other than Ian Hendon and every single Orient fan) want the Os to lose at any cost? I do not know the answers to these questions, but I did see Andy Hessenthaler buying 37 packets of laxatives at a chemist on Leyton High Road earlier in the day. You do the math.

A "club source" pens news of Jack Payne's
impending signing back in 1843
Meanwhile on Twitter... "Football. Bloody hell," said Sir Alex Ferguson once of the unpredictability of our beloved sport. And given that we never quite know what's around the corner it probably makes sense not to promise to tattoo your own face if a certain player signs for your club. Or similarly, best not pledge to "shit in your own hands and clap" as Dan Slawinski did when the Jack Payne to Orient rumours began back in the year 1843. Jack: welcome to Orient. Dan: hope you've got some strong detergent.

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