09 March 2020

Leyton Orient 2 Cambridge United 1, 7/3/20

A game in which... Orient did the footballing equivalent of a reformed 90s indie band who get a festival crowd going by playing all their early hits, then shoot themselves in the foot by announcing mid-set "Here's a new one we wrote..." thereby extinguishing all goodwill, before just about pulling it back again by finishing with one of the same early hits played for the second time.

Look, what I'm saying here in this tortuous analogy – obviously – is that the Os were so dominant in the first 63 minutes that to then concede and find themselves hanging on at the death was rather pointlessly self-destructive. That said, what an impressive 63 minutes it was, where it almost appeared that Orient were a coherent football team. Well done.

Moment of magic... Orient's out-of-character first goal, in which James Brophy – a left back who's never knowingly made a tackle – executed a crunching interception, then Craig Clay – a box-to-box midfielder who's never knowingly run box to box – took the ball the length of the pitch to lay it off to Jordan Maguire-Drew – a man who's never knowingly passed a mirror without stopping to conduct a three-hour personal grooming regime – who then actually scored.

Praise be... So many candidates for praise today but let's start with Jobi McAnuff for an explosive return to the pitch, where in the space of 15 minutes he covered more distance, completed more passes and took more shots than he did during the entirety of his Becchetti-era spell at the club.

Next: Craig Clay. Incredibly, he's raised his level from last season. His level is now mid-to-lower table League Two midfielder. Respect.

Next: Danny Johnson. Now, it may be true that the striker has had absolutely no discernible impact on any game of football he's ever played in, other than scoring tap ins, but by God if you need someone to not miss too many open goals from six inches out then he's your man.

Next Laurence Vigouroux, whose personal motto appears to be: "Why do something the easy way, if instead you can do it with a load of shithousery thrown in." Remember, this is a man who once paid a £50 fine with 5,000 1p pieces, a philosophy he brings admirably onto the football pitch.

In the dug out... Say what you like about Ross Embleton's formations, selection or tactics, but his philosophy of playing half the team out of position finally paid dividends today and for that I salute him. And moreover, he did that without Dean Brill – off sick – by his side with a clipboard which meant no one knew who they supposed to be marking at corners.

Meanwhile in the treatment room... 

Ross Embleton: Sorry to hear you're injured Wrighty – shame you'll have to sit this one out
Josh Wright: No, no gaffer – I can play, it's only my quad that's gone
RE: Do you know what your quad is Wrighty?
JW: Yep, it's the muscle that allows me to execute four varieties of sideways pass
RE: What are the four varieties?
JW: Short, quite short, very short and really short
RE: So if you can't do that, what else do you think you'll contribute to the game?
RE: You're back in next week

11 January 2020

Leyton Orient 1 Grimsby Town 1, 11/1/20

A game which... heralded the start of a bold new era for Leyton Orient, albeit one that differs from the previous era only by the fact Ross Embleton has blacked out the word "interim" on his business cards with a felt-tip pen.

So, same old, same old, with the new Orient paying homage to every single Orient team of the past by being mostly shit, then getting a bit of a head of steam up and nearly scoring, only to concede catastrophically before somehow rescuing a point.

But let's not be too harsh, hey, because even though the board have clearly given up on this season, the team haven't and put in a fair degree of effort for at least 20 minutes of the second half.

Converting pressure into goals might help, but Rome wasn't built in a day – indeed, if the Leyton Orient squad had been tasked with constructing the eternal city it would probably now resemble Stevenage.

Moment of magic... An outrageous bit of showboating by Conor Wilkinson in the second half when he weaved Lionel Messi-style in and out of probably at least 40 Grimsby players before collapsing to the ground in the penalty area dazzled by his own brilliance.

Jordan Maguire-Drew, of course, was hugely affronted by this blatant land grab for his title of Official Resident Showboater and immediately pulled off a defiant –if entirely pointless – succession of stepovers. Not to be outdone, James Brophy then attempted to dribble the width of the pitch – and I do mean width, not length – only to lose the ball, allowing Grimsby to score. Great work lads.

Taxi for... Josh Wright. Not because he was particularly bad – he never particularly is – but because he's in danger of joining the ranks of players such as Tom Newey, David Hunt, Tom Parkes and Andrew Cave-Brown who made numerous appearances for Orient with no discernible impact, good or bad. Let's call them The Forgettables. The type of players about whom, towards the end of a match, you wonder aloud as to their injury status, only to find they've been on the pitch for the entire 90 minutes.

In the dug out... A chance for head coach Ross Embleton to prove he was his own man and set himself apart from his predecessor interim head coach Ross Embleton. That meant leaving Lee Angol on his own up front trying to deliver flick ons to himself; Josh Coulson inexplicably returned to the side; and recent goal-scorer Ruel Soteriou without a part to play. As you were...

Meanwhile, in the director of football's office... "I'm 100% convinced Ross Embleton is the right man for the job," said director of football Martin Ling this week, which is why it only took him until January to appoint Ross even though he's been at the club for years. "Football is a results business," he went on, neatly explaining why he's backing a man whose record in League Two is played 23, lost 9, drew 8, won 6.

I jest, of course, and I'm hardly going to question Martin Ling's judgment just because in Steve Davis and Carl Fletcher he made the two worst appointments in managerial history, so to speak. Truth is, I'd also have given it to Ross who is the most decent bloke you're likely to come across in football and deserves a shot at this, even if the process by which we arrived there appeared to have the hidden hand of Alessandro Angelieri guiding it...

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