10 November 2019

FA Cup: Leyton Orient 1 Maldon & Tiptree 2, 10/11/19

A game which... answered the question as to whether it was possible for there to be a worse Orient manager than Alberto Cavasin. "Hold my beer" said Carl Fletcher as he somehow contrived to ensure his team lost to opponents four tiers beneath them in the pyramid – statistically the worst result in the club's history.

Except he didn't say "Hold my beer" did he? He said: "I've been working on passing my beer to someone all week, though if we knew why no one held it we'd all be millionaires wouldn't we?"

And it's not just that we lost. Shit happens. It's the fact that in the space of five games Fletcher appears to have rabbit-in-the-headlighted us from a team that seemed to be establishing themselves and holding their own in League Two to one catastrophically lacking in morale, motivation, organisation, tactics and ability. So to speak.

Moment of magic... All the moments of magic came from Maldon & Tiptree, who were superb and fully deserved their victory. And good luck to the Salty Jam Lads (I'm guessing that's their nickname, right?) in round two. Back to Orient, and curiously we did actually score a goal courtesy of substitute James Dayton who will now be fined his entire match fee for ignoring Fletcher's instruction to "stay in your own half Dayts, we've got Matty Harrold up front, he doesn't need any support".

Taxi for... Ooh, tough one this week. I'm going to go for... Carl Fletcher. It is possible that the new manager's first weeks at the club could have gone worse, but only if he inadvertently poisoned the entire squad with his welcome gift of homemade flapjacks; accidentally burnt the entire Breyer Group Stadium to the ground while frying an egg in the club kitchen; and re-signed Connor Essam.

Now, if I sift through all the clichés and nebulous blandisms in Fletcher's car-crash interviews I think what he's trying to say is that he wants to the team to play in a certain way and that'll take time to work. That certain way appears to be lumping the ball to an isolated lone striker and hoping for the best. That could indeed take time to work. All of time.

No one wants to return to the managerial merry-go-round of the Becchetti era, and I do hope that the Fletchmeister, as no one will ever call him, turns it round. But I'll say this: so far it appears the manager is so far out of his depth that there are as-yet-undiscovered species of marine life swimming past him wondering how he hasn't exploded under the 16,000 psi of pressure typically found in the Hadalpelagic Zone of the oceans. (Thanks Wikipedia.)

In the director's box... "Every time I looked at what we was looking for he ticked every box," said Martin Ling of his decision to hire Carl Fletcher. Which begs the question: what were the boxes? Was this perhaps the result of a catastrophic mix up of forms and in fact the former Bournemouth man was simply applying for a free ticket to the Plymouth game to scout Marvin Ekpiteta? Or perhaps an enthusiastic local teenager named Carl Flitcher had applied to be a ball boy and wires got crossed? Or perhaps the other 39 applicants were just really bad at ticking boxes and kept smudging the ink and stuff?

Meanwhile in the press room...

Media officer: Right Fletch, you ready for your post-match interview?
Fletch: Like I said, I've put in 110%.
Media officer: You didn't say that, but fine - you're ready?
Fletch: I take each interview as it comes. So to speak.
Media officer: Fletch, you know it might be better if you used fewer clichés...
Fletch: Like I said, a stitch in time saves nine.
Media officer: Ok. Just try answering the questions honestly Fletch...
Fletch: If we knew how to answer questions we'd all be millionaires and wouldn't be here.
Media officer: You're thinking of the TV show Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, Fletch, rather than a post-match interview.
Fletch: Depends how you look at it. So to speak.
Media officer: Just get out there and try not to embarrass us too much.
Fletch: Like I said, I'm just focused on the next interview.
Media officer: No Fletch, you haven't done this one yet...
Fletch: A good interview is better than a bad one, but a bad one is worse than an ok one.
Media officer: 😐

13 October 2019

Leyton Orient 3 Walsall 1, 12/10/19

A game in which... Joe Widdowson scored. Take that in for a moment and spare a thought for Eliud Kipchoge who, just hours earlier, became the first human to run a sub two-hour marathon only to find that by teatime his feat was only the second greatest sporting achievement of the day.

But wait, there's more: Joe Widdowson scored the goal – his first since 2009 BC – with his right foot. Remember, the defender is so left-footed that he rarely even bothers booting up his right, preferring to take to the field wearing a single novelty Spiderman slipper he received for Christmas a few years back. Occasionally he simply leaves his right foot with kit man Ada for safe keeping.

And so, in scoring a right-footed screamer, Widdowson's achievement transcends that of sporting endeavour and sits proudly alongside man's first landing on the moon; the mapping of the human genome; the development of vaccines; and the French Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen.

From an Orient perspective the sheer euphoria of the goal propelled them to perhaps their most convincing 45 minutes of football this season, scoring twice more in the second half and cruising to victory. And there was only the one catastrophic defensive calamity too, which is progress.

Moment of magic... Widdowson aside there was also the fortifying sight of Matt Harrold scoring his first career goal that wasn't either a header or a tap-in during a last-minute scramble in the six-yard box. And thank the Lord that when Craig Clay was put through on goal by a Walsall mix up he had enough time to remember he couldn't shoot for toffee himself and therefore the good sense to square the ball to his ginger-headed team mate. Tidy finish it was too from Harrold, who is likely to lead the line for the next three games thanks to Conor Wilkinson's attempt at strangling an opponent to death.

Taxi for... James Alabi. And I mean that in the kindest and most literal sense: Alabi would have needed a taxi home after expending so much energy chasing down lost causes in his first three minutes on the pitch that he was subsequently unable to even drag one foot in front of the other. This was unfortunate as in his fourth minute on the pitch he was actually played through on goal and could do nothing more huff to a bewildered stand still. Which is a shame as he would almost definitely had scored had he made it anywhere near the goal. Right?

In the dug out... It's incredible to witness how simply removing the title "interim head coach" from Ross Embleton has liberated him into making sensible footballing decisions like not playing five at the back and dropping Sam Ling. Yes, yes I know he's injured, don't write in. Credit to Ross though, he seems to have got the team into something of a groove, just about in time for a new manager to come in and rip it all up again.

In the bars... On Friday night fans of the recently introduced O's Lager – all zero of them – were left shell-shocked when it was announced that the lukewarm dishwater was to be replaced in the bars around the stadium. By what, though? Well, the logic from CEO Danny Macklin appears to be that since it would be impossible to find a lager universally liked by all Orient fans it was safer to opt for two that are universally despised, namely Budweiser and Coors Light. The last word, however, went to the club's social media manager who cheekily chose to celebrate victory on the official Twitter feed with the off-brand message "If Carlsberg did second-halves..." I say "last word" because he's now been fired.

Meanwhile in the Director of Football's office... 

Kent Teague: Hi Martin, what's up?
Martin Ling: Not much
KT: Just wondering how the search for a new manager was coming on Martin
ML: It take time to read 40-plus application forms Kent
KT: Right, I estimate it would take about four or five hours. It's been three weeks
ML: I also have to cross-check them on Wikipedia
KT: Ok, but again that's probably another three or four hours' work...
ML: And I've been on the phone to Colin Calderwood
KT: Great! What about?
ML: Oh nothing, just saying hi really
KT: Martin...
ML: Yes?
KT: Have you lost the application forms?
KT: Martin?
ML: I think they're definitely somewhere... Sorry. I heard Ryan Jarvis has got his coaching badges. No?

30 September 2019

Leyton Orient 3 Port Vale 3, 28/9/19

A game which... began with a miracle right up there with feeding the five thousand, the raising of Lazarus and the 1848 apparition of the Lady of Lourdes: namely that Port Vale's defence appeared to be actually worse than ours. "Hold our beers" said the Orient back five as they set about undoing this celestial aberration by conceding two typically calamitous goals and ensuring the team went into the break 2-1 down.

Something was clearly said at half-time, that something being "Get in the shower Ekpiteta you donkey, you're off" and the Os reverted to 4-4-2 and some semblance of balance. Well, at least Port Vale weren't getting in behind our "wing backs" – and, yes I am making quotation marks in the air right now with a sarcastic look on my face – quite as often.

There was also a lot more attacking intent and impetus, which is nice to see – well done – not least because it's now clear that we're going to need to score at least three goals to even get a point in every game from here on...

Moment of magic... An absolute banger of a goal from Conor Wilkinson who I might have accidentally said had no end product last week. In fact the former Dagenham and Redbridge man is showing increasing evidence that he might actually be quite good, also setting up the O's opener with a delightfully-placed cross. He needs to be careful though: if he starts to put in a decent shift and score a lot of goals then a large proportion of Orient fans will demand that he is dropped, as is our quaint tradition.

Praise be... Did you see Josh Wright's attempted bicycle kick in the second half? Well, I say bicycle but perhaps broken scooter doused in petrol then set ablaze and thrown into a canal might better describe his affront to the art of acrobatic goal attempts. Aside from that a good day's work – two goals and a few telling interventions – from the Essex Exocet, as he's known to no one.

Taxi for... Craig Clay. And I obviously write this with great regret because I put my heart and soul into supporting that guy last season and didn't even slag him off once apart from one time at the start of the campaign when I made him the punchline of a cheap joke about Charlie Lee. So let's try to be calm and balanced about his display against Port Vale and simply say it was the worst performance by any sportsperson in any sport in all of time.

In the dugout... The crowd sung Ross Embleton's name at the conclusion of the game, which is some achievement since it's a name syllably-inconsistent with most traditional football chants. No matter: Ross deserves it for taking on a role he never aspired to at a time of great emotional distress for the club. He is a man of dignity, integrity and total professionalism and should continue to command the highest respect among our fans. That said, employing the failed 5-3-2 formation again – what a twat.

Are we going to be relegated? Well, let me put it this way: has a team that concedes at least two goals every game ever stayed up? I have literally no idea what the answer to that is so feel free to hit me up with some stats if you're Neilson Kaufman. I should say that there was enough in the second half to give me faith we'll avoid the drop: Conor Wilkinson's increasing influence; George Marsh's maturity in midfield; Jordan Maguire-Drew's peach of a cross for the last-minute equaliser; and Matt Harrold's all-round gingerness. It's going to be a bumpy ride though, isn't it?

Meanwhile on Soccer A.M.... 

Ross Embleton: Right lads, we're on You Know The Drill this week. We need two volunteers - first come first served. Who's up for showing what skilled players we have at the club?
Conor Wilkinson: I'm in gaffer!
RE: Nice one Sargent Wilko. Anyone else?
James Alabi: Me too gaffer!
RE: .... ... ... ... Anyone else?
JA: You said first come first served
RE: I think I said we'd draw names out of a hat
JA: No, you said first come first served gaffer. It was like three seconds ago.
RE: You know it's a shooting drill James?
JA: My speciality!
JA: I mean my speciality compared to say goalkeeping or embroidery
RE: Just try not to embarrass us James
JA: Message received and understood gaffer...

Watch what happened here: https://twitter.com/SoccerAM/status/1178248766626902022 

18 September 2019

Leyton Orient 1 Crewe Alexandra 2, 17/9/19

A game in which... after six consecutive seasons of either boom or bust, Orient returned to their normal resting state of being mildly shit. This means that anyone who began supporting the team post-2012/13 will now be experiencing a sickening realisation akin to Charlton Heston discovering that the Planet of The Apes was actually Earth; Keanu Reeves uncovering that humans were being farmed for energy by a race of artificially intelligent beings in The Matrix; and fans of Milli Vanilli receiving the news that Fab and Rob didn't actually sing on their own records.

Yeah, don't come here expecting any contemporary cultural references, right? Otherwise I'd have used the shattering revelation that Drake doesn't write his own raps. I digress: my point is that fans longer in tooth will have felt the warm glow of familiarity in seeing Orient fail to trouble an opposition goalkeeper for 90 minutes; give away sloppy goals; huff and puff a bit to no discernible effect; and make all the wrong substitutions at the wrong time. In other words business as usual for the years 1881 to 2012 with only a handful of exceptions. Welcome back Orient, we've missed you.

Moment of magic... A penalty! Rejoice. Oh hang on, Angol's gone off injured. Shit. And some bloke who made it as far as the judges' houses in the 2013 series of The X Factor has wandered onto the pitch to take it. Oh, he's missed...

I mean, to be fair Dale Gorman – sensing the impending catastrophe – did initially try to take the ball off Jordan Maguire-Drew, but the winger stuffed it up his shirt to prevent him doing so. Either that or Maguire-Drew was reprising his hilarious training ground skit – "Look lads I'm pregnant! Did you hear that - pregnant!! Hahahahaha!!" – which at least two of his team mates found mildly diverting the first time, less so the 57th. Whatever – he must never ever take a spot kick again.

Praise be... Hilariously the sponsors – clearly well into their seventh bottle of Echo Falls by this point – gave man of the match to Conor Wilkinson. So let's go along with that for a laugh shall we? Conor Wilkinson has tidy feet, no one can deny that. Equally he worked industriously in the final third of the pitch, winning a few headers and holding on to the ball, all of which amounted to literally nothing. Zilch. Diddly squat. No end product whatsoever. He's the footballing equivalent of a master civil engineer who spends years painstaking designing a bridge to traverse a ravine, only to accidentally leave a gaping hole in the middle, yelling madly "EVERYTHING WORKS FINE APART FROM ALL THE PEOPLE FALLING TO THEIR DEATHS!"

Taxi for... Let's get back to Jordan Maguire-Drew shall we? I mean, there's no denying he has hair and tattoos. I would also back him to casually chip the keeper and score if ever gifted the ball by an opposition defender, as was the case in this game. Unfortunately we can also rely on "The Magpie" (is that his nickname? Let's agree it is) to repeatedly give the ball away in dangerous areas and generally arse around to little effect for much of the game. Let's give him the benefit of doubt and call him an "enigma" for the moment though, ok?

In the dug out... Well, you have to feel for Ross Embleton when he thinks to himself "I need to change things up here" only to turn around and see James Alabi looking up at him with the expectant eyes of yapping cocker spaniel. Mind you, Embleton was probably the idiot who removed him from the transfer list so what goes around comes around. Still, calling for his head is ludicrous. I might be old-fashioned, but I'd rather give a new manager more than nine games to prove his mettle. He can have ten.

Are we going to be relegated? I refer you to my earlier point: we are mildly shit, which means we'll likely spend most of the season mathematically in danger of relegation but probably just keep above the danger zone by virtue of inexplicably against-the-run-of-form victories against northern teams away from home. It is probably also fair to say that a number of our players have yet to fully adjust to League Two, but let's not have them summarily executed just yet, hey? We must restrict ourselves only to the more courageous activity of being sarcastic about them on blogs and social media.

Meanwhile in the Orient programme... 

Editor: Hey Jordan, we need a recipe from you for Tuesday's edition.
Jordan: My recipe is to score lots of goals hahahaha!
Editor: Right. I'm going to need an actual recipe.
Jordan: Sorry.
Editor: What's your favourite meal?
Jordan: I eat defenders for breakfast hahahahaha!
Editor: Yeah, again, I need an actual meal.
Jordan: Sorry. It's steak and eggs.
Editor: Do you know how to cook steak and eggs?
Jordan: Yes! You cook the steak and then cook the eggs.
Editor: But how?
Jordan: ... could you write that bit?

05 August 2019

Leyton Orient 1 Cheltenham Town 0, 3/8/19

A game which... was always going to be a difficult one for players and fans, imbued as it was with the tragedy of Justin Edinburgh's death in the summer. The club is still reeling from the loss of not just a great manager, but a great man.

We can take some solace in the legacy he leaves behind, not least the fact he built a squad that knows how to win football matches – or at least not lose them that often. So despite the high emotions, the opening game pressure and a resolute Cheltenham side, win they did. And the fact we had to endure a nervy final 10 minutes clinging on to a one-goal lead against nine men was evidence that despite everything, Orient will always still be Orient. I mean for fuck's sake...

Moment of magic... The pre-game tribute in which Cheltenham fans revealed the banner they'd created in honour of Justin Edinburgh and donated a collection to the Justin Edinburgh Foundation. Absolute respect for that: Edinburgh had no particular connection with the Robins – this was just a moving example of the football family coming together. That said, I'll still never forgive them for selling us JJ Melligan.

Praise be... There are many things to admire about Josh Wright: for example, his tousled hair, chiselled jaw, strong cheekbones and dreamy eyes. But he's not only in the team for his boy band good looks, he's also there to scrappily put away bobbling loose balls in the area, as he duly did for Orient's winning goal. And as a close friend of the Edinburgh family and Justin's last signing it was only fitting that he did so. Near brought a tear to my eye. Did I mention the boy band good looks?

Are we any good? Let's reserve judgement on that, for it was inevitable that this would be a jittery start to the campaign. Some promising signs, but the Os need a bit more time to gel – not unlike Jordan Maguire-Drew, whose floppy fringe could have done with more attention to its shape and body.

In the dugout... Ross Embleton looked to stamp his authority on the squad early doors by dropping Joe Widdowson on account of him having his hair cut. "I've read chapter 16 of Book of Judges in the Old Testament," the gaffer explained after checking Wikipedia. "Samson was never quite the force at left back once he'd lost his locks." Yes, yes, I know he was injured. Don't write in. Aside from that it was pretty much business as usual, with the Os lining up in the familiar 5-3-2 (or 3-5-2 depending on whether James Brophy is bothering to do any defending).

Meanwhile in the club pressroom: 


Press officer: Right James, as you know we make a gif of every player doing a celebration and post it on Twitter when they score
James Alabi: Great, so you won't need me for a bit then?
PO: We like to cover all eventualities. We've done one for Arthur Janata too.
JA: Then count me in!
PO: Great: one, two, three, four...
PO: James?
JA: Sorry, I meant count me in as in "Let's do this!"
PO: Right. Are you ready now?
JA: LET'S DO THIS! [rips shirt off]
PO: You have to pay for the shirt.
JA: Do I have to pay if I do it in a match too?
PO: Let's not worry about that for the moment James...

21 May 2019

FA Trophy Final: Leyton Orient 0 AFC Fylde 1, 19/5/19

A game in which... the Orient players staggered onto the pitch ravaged physically, mentally and emotionally by the demands of a three-week post-promotion bender. Just hours before kick off Dean Brill was wearing nothing but body paint and glitter as he danced at a Full Moon party on Koh Pha-ngan beach; Craig Clay was in the 56th hour of a psychotropic experience with local shamans in the jungles of Bolivia; Matt Harrold was lying face-down in a pool of his own bodily fluids in a Berlin crack den; and James Brophy was stumbling up and down Leyton High Road with a bottle of blue WKD and a half-eaten kebab wondering where everyone else had gone.

AFC Fylde, predictably, took advantage and created almost a million chances in the first half, though curiously failed to convert any of them. Their second-half goal was enough to clinch it for them, however, despite the Orient team somehow finding hitherto unknown reserves of strength to mount some sort of fight back. Hey ho.

Moment of magic... Do you remember that time Joe Widdowson nearly scored a goal? That's right, it was against Braintree just a matter of weeks ago. I mean, when I say "nearly" obviously I mean "was on a football pitch during a game in which it was not theoretically impossible that he could be the last object a ball connected with before crossing the goal line". Funny thing is, Joe actually nearly scored a goal at Wembley. Read that again and question every facet of your entire existence. He even hit the post. Somewhere in an alternate universe Joe Widdowson is banging in 25 a season, surely?

Praise be... So when I mentioned that Orient mounted some sort of fight back in the second half, what I should have said was simply "Jordan Maguire-Drew came on" for the winger single-handedly took on all team responsibilities – including defending, attacking, goal-keeping, tactics, hydration and physiotherapy – for the entire 45 minutes. He hit the post too, goddammit, with a cheeky free kick.

Taxi for... Wembley. And Orient's "Wembley curse". We've now played there probably 30 or 40 times (*checks*: ok, it's three) and lost on every occasion. With that and the stadium's outrageous policy of charging the same price for beer as a London pub and refusing to allow anyone other than origami experts to bring bags in, it all amounted to a terrible day out for Os fans. And when I say fans I actually mean only the "magnificent" seven people who were sent a text message by Alan Bowers during his failed takeover bid of the club. The rest of us 24,000 part-timers who haven't been to every single game since 1881 deserved everything we got.

And so what does this result tell us about next season? Well, fan opinion seems to be divided between "WE'RE DEFINITELY GOING TO BE RELEGATED" and "WHAT DO YOU MEAN WE'RE GOING TO BE RELEGATED I'LL FUCKING KILL YOU" so it's good to see that promotion and a day out at Wembley haven't stifled healthy debate. Personally I'm torn between the result telling us either nothing, nada or fuck all.

And a word for those departing... Shame about Alex Lawless since I never got to describe an unblemished performance of his as "flawless", but in all seriousness he never let us down and had a beard. Good vibes to Jay Simpson and Charlie Grainger too, and let's not forget that Orient were unbeaten in 23 of the 26 games in which James Alabi featured. Hashtag impact.

But let's leave the last word for Charlie Lee. Whatever happens next season, we now won't be singing "We all love Charlie" except in the event we sign another player called Charlie who we love, which could happen. If not any popular player named Blow, Dust, Line, Rail, Snow, Stash, Pearl, Bump, Flake, Toot, Yeyo, Prince Charles or Colombian Marching Powder would allow us to keep the double entendre going. Over to you Martin Ling...

29 April 2019

Leyton Orient 0 Braintree Town 0, 27/4/19

A game in which... Orient won the league. Read that again and weep actual tears, for this is only the third time that's happened in our 138-year history and comes just two years after an Italian psychopath nearly poisoned the club out of existence through a deadly mix of megalomania, spite and Valpolicella.

Sink down to your knees and praise the Lord, then, for this gutsy, determined and talented group of players, who have taken us back to the holy land of League Two and the sunny uplands of Morecombe, Crawley and Stevenage (pictured below).

Greater glories would surely await a team of this calibre were it to stay together, though other better-resourced clubs are already coveting our jewels. For now then let's just enjoy the heady glow of success in a season with so many magical moments.

That said, failing to beat an already-relegated bunch of part-timers from Essex at Brisbane Road in the final game – absolute disgrace.

Moment of magic... The moment, of course, that the referee's final whistle signalled that the title was ours – although the South Stand had recklessly thrown caution to the wind 15 minutes earlier by singing "campeones" even though it was still possible for Salford to come from behind to win and Orient to concede five goals.

That didn't happen, despite many of the most weathered fans believing that it would be "typical Orient" to somehow blow our chance of taking the honours right at the death. What utter nonsense from these doomsayers. It would actually be far more "typical Orient" to get relegated again the next season then spend the next 15 years in the National League.

Praise be... It looked very much like Joe Widdowson might score the first goal of his entire career in this match – or at least it would have looked like that to anyone who hasn't previously seen Joe Widdowson play. (Which, given the 8,000+ attendance was presumably quite a lot of fucking part-time glory hunters who weren't even there when we won the Third Division South in 1956.)

Anyway, when Macauley Bonne ill-advisedly slipped Widdowson clean through on goal the left back ran and ran and ran like a frizzy-haired Forrest Gump before hitting an immovable object many, many hours before he presumably intended to finally get a shot off. Joe will never, ever score a goal, but boy what a great season he's had.

Taxi for... The Orient fans, who according to Josh Koroma have been "a joke all season". Today even the euphoria of winning a league title wasn't enough to prevent supporters dividing into two warring factions. On one side were those who remained on the pitch for the trophy presentation, on the other those who were furious at the turf-dwellers for blocking their view, starting up a chant of "OFF THE PITCH" to the tune of Napalm Death's From Enslavement to Obliteration.

The warring factions were then divided into further sub-warring factions: those who believed Bonne should've been dropped in February and those who didn't; those who have meltdowns and those who complain about people having meltdowns; those who embrace the idea of part-time fans coming to Wembley, and those who think they should be summarily executed; those who'd like Dean Cox back, and those who wouldn't; and finally, those who actually quite rated Dean Morgan and those who didn't, which to be fair was just me versus everyone else. God I love you guys.

In the dug out... But not this week the actual dugout, but the "third dugout", a madcap innovation from the commercial team that allows select fans to watch the game from a bus shelter on the corner of the pitch and to take over responsibility for the tactics for a 15-minute period of their choosing in the second half.

This Saturday that presumably coincided with the time during which James Brophy was unshackled from any notional responsibility he previously had to maintaining team shape and buzzed about spraying the ball around randomly as if he'd set off a fire hose in his own brain. Still, the lucky fans got a pizza delivered to their bus shelter at half-time for their troubles, something that Kevin Dearden tried and failed to do on many occasions during his stint at the club.

And finally... Big up to CEO Danny Macklin who, by 11pm on Saturday, was so intoxicated on success and serotonin that he launched into a lengthly, loved up exaltation to Orient on Twitter that had all the hallmarks of an 18-year-old at their first warehouse rave when suddenly everyone is their new best friend for life. Fair play to Danny, he had a hard act to follow in Alessandro Angelieri but his passion, commitment and good sense shine through. So thanks Danny, thanks Kent, thanks Nigel, thanks Martin, thanks Matt, thanks Justin, thanks Ross and thanks everyone connected with the club. I'm still in the queue for fucking Solihull tickets though, guys...

23 April 2019

Solihull Moors 0 Leyton Orient 0, 22/4/19

A game in which... Orient showed nerves of steel, fists of iron, balls of fire and guts of glory – which was just as well given that Solihull's tactics largely consisted of propelling 11 human-shaped blocks of concrete in their direction for 90 minutes.

And I don't mean this disrespectfully, as the Moor Men (is that their nickname? I shan't bother to look it up) are very, very good at this and in the first half made it impossible for the Os to find any rhythm at all – much like the time Josh Coulson ill-advisedly attempted to body-pop at Faces nightclub, Gants Hill, after downing two expresso martinis and a WKD Mango Crush in quick succession.

The second half saw more chances – for both sides, to be fair – but this gritty, resolute Orient team held firm. And with Salford – still reeling from Man Utd's 4-0 defeat to Everton – losing to Fylde, promotion is now within Orient's grasp. It's in touching distance. The fat lady's about to sing. It's ours to lose. Or to put it another way: it's the equivalent of us being 2-0 up at Wembley at half-time in a play-off final. What could possibly go wrong?

Moment of magic... Two, actually so let's worship at the altar of Dean Brill and probably bring him some hot cross buns or something as he gets hungry a lot. On 75 minutes he somehow managed to claw the ball off his line and smother it to prevent the Moor Men (?) taking a late lead. Earlier he pushed a goal-bound header round the post with an acrobatism that belied his hefty frame to such an extent that any watching quantum physicist must have scratched their head and thought "Right, I think we may need to look at the laws of the universe again."

Praise be... It says something about the brilliance of this squad that in any other campaign any of Craig Clay, Jobi McAnuff, Macauley Bonne, Joe Widdowson, Josh Coulson, Dan Happe, Josh Koroma, Marvin Ekpiteta or Dean Brill would be a shoo-in for player of the season. Everyone else has played a vital part too. I mean, consider this: if we lose on Saturday but still go up on goal difference then we'll be parading James Alabi around the streets of Leyton for his late leveller against Halifax in September that will have made the difference. How's that for impact?

In the dug out... Justin Edinburgh described watching this game as "hell", an overstatement that demonstrates he probably never saw Orient play in the 40-odd years before he became manager. Sit through 90 minutes of an Alberto Cavasin-era performance, mate, I'll show you hell. Anyhoos, as he's done pretty much all season the manager got the selection, tactics and substitutions spot on – all the while sporting a chinos/trainers/open-necked shirt combo which suggests that post-match he'll be heading to a mid-market seafood restaurant on the Marbella beach-front.

Meanwhile on Twitter... Orient celebrity fan Julian Lloyd-Webber set the tone for the day with this: "Setting off this morning for @SolihullMoors V @leytonorientfc Can't remember feeling this nervous since the first time I performed @BrittenOfficial's Cello Symphony!" – something I think all fans can relate to.

"Some gloriously non-League row ordering" tweeted Dave Fawbert in response to the quirky seating arrangements at Damson Park (his picture below). Mid-game the home supporters lobbed a flare at us, which is apparently a traditional greeting in some parts of the West Midlands. "Solihull fans using their team tactics in the stands. Fair play. That flare went straight up in the air as high as they could get it," observed Matty.

But the final word has to go to Keith Goldhanger, who perfectly captured the mindset of an Orient fan with this prediction for Saturday: "Salford will lose, Orient will lose 1-0 and Solihull will win 9-0 at Dagenham." Hold tight all...

19 April 2019

Leyton Orient 2 Harrogate Town 0, 19/4/19

A game which... was the footballing equivalent of joyously stuffing yourself with a massive chocolate cake shortly after entering a restaurant, then nervously picking at the cheese plate over the next 90 minutes, before finishing with a glorious single McVitie's Ginger Nut. Yes, that's right readers, the laboured metaphors are going to be OFF THE SCALE this evening, so hold tight.

So, while Orient certainly weren't at their flowing best for much of the game, they did restrict fellow promotion-contenders to a handful of chances and played with such grit that Waltham Forest Council have asked if they can spread the team across icy roads come winter.

Anyway, this was a victory of huge significance, especially given Salford's late winner at Boreham Wood which was no doubt celebrated wildly by whichever of their 38 fans in attendance didn't miss the goal because they were sneakily watching a YouTube compilation of Nicky Butt's best Man Utd goals on their iPhones.

Moment of magic... Another late goal from the "Ginger Alabi" Matt Harrold, who joins that special pantheon of Orient players who can consistently change games from the bench but are largely ineffective should some freak set of injuries ever require them to play 90 minutes. Efe Echanomi, Jonathan Tehoué and Shaun Batt to name but three (because I can only name three) all have a place in fans' hearts, as will Harrold if he can do the same against Solihull or Braintree...

Praise be... Let's all take a moment to appreciate the full glory of the walking-forehead-with-a-few-other-smaller-body-parts-attached-to-it that goes by the name of Josh Coulson. This guy has been immense this season and today bookended the game with a goal – expertly spammed from bonce to back of the net – and a flying interception that prevented a last-ditch Harrogate equaliser.

Taxi for... Now, referees in the National League have a very tough job, so we shouldn't criticise them lightly. We should criticise them very, very heavily because God knows we have been on the receiving end of some howling decisions of late. Last week James Dayton was sent off for having his ankle dislocated, and today Craig Clay was yellow-carded for the little known football offence of "having the same surname as the material used in pottery".

In the dug out... An interesting revelation about the art of the manager from Dean Cox this week in E10 Mess's superlative four-part podcast on the 2013/14 season. Apparently Russell Slade would send the diminutive winger into the Supporters Bar after games to find out what fans thought about the tactics and formation, and then would GENUINELY TRY TO IMPLEMENT THEIR SUGGESTIONS IN TRAINING! Seriously. Fans are notoriously idiots! We know nothing. Obviously Justin Edinburgh isn't resorting to such lunacy otherwise he'd have listened to the "drop Bonne" Brigade and we'd have been relegated. And just imagine if Ian Hendon had paid attention to fans' calls to never ever allow Connor Essam, Sean Clohessy or Armand Gnanduillet near a football pitch again. Where would we be now? Oh, hang on...

Meanwhile... "We have received reports that fraudulent tickets for Solihull Moors on Monday are being sold on Leyton High Street" tweeted the official club account today without any apparent irony or being hacked or anything. First up, lads, it's Leyton High Road not Leyton High Street you flaming idiots. Secondly, I took it upon myself to check the authenticity of said tickets – pictured below – and found them to be flawless copies of the originals, which does me a favour as I can now finally leave the queue after two weeks. See you in Solihull...

06 April 2019

Leyton Orient 2 Halifax Town 2, 6/4/19

A game which... began with only three points being good enough, yet ended with Orient fans wildly celebrating a draw thanks to a last-gasp bundle into the net by the illegitimate son of Princess Diana and a gingerbread man.

Some stuff happened in between – mostly our defence looking uncharacteristically baffled at the sight of a little circus fella with a top knot running at them with the ball. But fair play to Orient, coming back from 2-0 down takes character and the late goal will be psychologically significant if nothing else. That said, failing to beat a building society team – what the fuck?

Praise be... Josh Koroma, a player whose selfishness has such force it is sucking all the world's limelight inexorably towards him. A player whose stats today read: attempts at goal: 467; passes: 0. And a player who'll shoot from any angle, including from within the home dressing room or the team coach. But by God if he keeps scoring the type of screamer he did today, keep being selfish mate.

Taxi for... Come on, you think I'm going to single out a player for criticism when we're pushing for promotion? Well you're right, I am. Jay Simpson: terrible performance. Almost as if he came to us having played virtually no football in a country more renowned for sports such as baseball, beer pong and cheerleading. Don't worry, though, he'll come good.

In the dug out... I'll say one thing about Justin, he's not afraid to throw everything at a victory, and by the time the game ended today there were only two defenders left on the pitch, one of whom is the club's most prolific goal-scorer of 2019. Meanwhile four strikers, three wingers, Craig Clay and a kitchen sink all piled into Halifax's box, and I'm pretty sure every single one of them – and perhaps even James Alabi who wasn't even playing – got a touch in the scramble that led to the equaliser. In Just we Trust – unless we don't get promoted then sack the fucker immediately.

Are we going to get promoted? Well, we ain't gonna do it the easy way, but God bless this spirited group of players for getting us in the position where it's still in our own hands with five games to go. They are knackered, clearly. Macauley Bonne has played so much football this season he no longer bothers taking his kit off between matches and just jogs around the dressing room from Saturdays to Tuesdays to keep warm. Dean Brill rarely has time to have more than 6 or 7 meals a day. James Brophy's left foot is so tired that today he kicked the ball with his right for the first time in his career, with predictably catastrophic consequences. Keep the faith though, readers.

Meanwhile... The club's attempt to enter the Guinness Book of Records for slowest moving queue in history is proving highly successful, with some fans waiting up to three or four hours before being able to shuffle forward another six inches today. Yes, in a time when we can land craft on Mars, grow human organs in a laboratory and build robots to perform complex tasks, Leyton Orient Football Club cannot get its shit together to issue tickets to more than four people at any one time. There are still some unfortunate fans queueing for tickets to the promotion decider against Bury in 1962, while those waiting for a chance to see our FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal in 1978 still have many years before they're going to be near the front...

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