16 August 2016

Leyton Orient 3 Stevenage 0, 16/8/16

A game in which... Orient proved that they're not necessarily as shit as every single performance of the last two seasons might suggest. In fact I'd go as far as to say that this was the most enjoyable 90 minutes at Brisbane Road since the play-off semi-final of 2013/14.

Stevenage were rubbish, obviously, but you can only beat what's put in front of you, unless that's Newport and you lose. But Orient were in swashbuckling form, penetrating the opposition defence time and again with the near-forgotten tactic of actually passing the ball along the ground. Throw in some highly promising individual performances – Kelly, Massey and Erichot for starters – and it starts to look like things aren't quite as dire as they seemed on Saturday. Let the good times roll.

Jump off your seat moment... The moment Dean Cox – God knows it's good to have him back – scored with a header from the edge of the box, a feat that until tonight every single expert from the world of science and Professor Brian Cox had deemed physically impossible. From a Stevenage point of view this is beyond embarrassing: like Sir Bradley Wiggins being overtaken by a kid on a tricycle; or Lionel Messi being nutmegged by Bradley Pritchard.

Give that man a medal... Well done to Harry Cornick Jr for repeatedly getting dangerous balls into the box like an inverse Sean Clohessy. This was the type of blistering loanee winger performance that Ryan Hedges could have put in had he not had Fabio Liverani screaming insanely into his brain for 90 relentless minutes every time he played. But if this is the shape of things to come from Cornick, and Simpson stays and shakes off the rust, we may actually score more goals.

Taxi for... What a joy it was to see Jamie Jones kicking the ball with the same reckless regard for consequence with which he manages his Twitter account. How pleasurable it was to see him fumbling crosses almost like he was playing for Orient during the 2013/14 play-off final. And it would be an utter dereliction of duty of me not to end this paragraph with the words: Enjoy your relegation battle, Jamie.

Jamie Jones reaches for a cross
In the dug out... Positioning Dean Cox in a more central role is usually the last roll of the dice of an under-pressure Orient manager and it never works. Tonight, by total accident, this ruse actually paid off for Andy Hessenthaler and the 4-2-3-1 formation presumably dictated to him by the president looked to have promise. The thing is: Orient do have a good team on paper. Of course, that doesn't help you get promoted: after all, Ian Hendon should have been a good manager on paper, until it turned out that paper just bore a picture of a sunburnt holidaymaker furiously berating Ryan Air ground staff for the fact he's left his own passport in the hotel room. Where was I? Yes, Orient have a good team on paper and if Hessenthaler – let's just call him Yessenthaler and be done with it – can negotiate around the lunatics running the club then we may have a chance of achieving something.

Meanwhile on Twitter... "Just got told the biggest load of nonsense in my life" tweeted Paul McCallum, minutes before kick off, almost as if an Ian Hendon tactical team talk from last season had finally registered in his brain. Make of that what you will, but in the meantime let's turn to our former manager himself. Yes, his fiery-fingered wife Linda Hendon has been at it again, with this: "Ian Hendon and I have been informed by Becchetti that we are not welcome at Brisbane Road to support Orient or Hess. #completeclownofachairman." Which suggests that Linda and Ian were trying to score free seats rather than just paying like the rest of us mugs. Unless of course Mr Becchetti scrutinises the sale of every ticket to ensure no one inappropriate turns up. Wouldn't put it past him. Though in which case how did Connor Essam slip through the net so many times? The plot thickens...

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