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?
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