Saturday, 10 May 2014

Peterborough United - Play Off Semi Final 1st Leg - 10th May

Honours are still even after the first leg.

The Match - On a pitch more akin to the Battle of the Somme than a professional football team, both teams battled it out to try and get a hold of the semi final. As it turns out, we're no closer to finding out who will be heading to Wembley on the 25th. But still, with the O's creating enough chances to win the game, if we can play on Tuesday like we did today then who knows if we'll be hearing Rocking All Over The World?

The London Road Pitch

Assombalonga unsurprisingly got himself another goal, his 33rd in all competitions, but whilst we prefer to spend £1.5 million on a new stand rather than a striker, he was kept relatively quiet by Clarke and Baudry.

There were several occasions throughout the game where a steadier foot on the difficult surface could have led to a goal, particularly in the first half. Mooney, Cox and Lisbie all had great opportunities in front of goal only to find themselves face down on the turf with the ball scrambled away. 

The Players - So much has been made of the team spirit this season, and once again it came to the fore. It was great to see the players and staff gathered in a huddle after the game, a show of unity that is rarely seen on the pitch.

Mo fully deserved his man of the match award for the way he tormented the full back throughout the second half. It wasn't the most convincing of tap-ins for the goal, but we'll let him off.

The defence was solid as always. As previously mentioned, Clarke and Baudry kept Assombalonga relatively quiet whilst Cuthbert had another superb game at right back. 

The Manager - At times this season, the changes that Slade has made have left some fans scratching their heads. Today, he got it absolutely spot on. With Lundstram struggling on the difficult pitch, he replaced him with James and Batt was brought on for the tiring Lisbie. Both players had a part in the move for the goal so hats off to Slade for getting it right. 

Hats off

Up Next -  The second leg. With the game at home and hopefully on a much better pitch, we should be able to get the ball down more than we were perhaps able to today. It's only half time, there's still a long way to go, plenty of football left to play and a whole host of other clich├ęs still on their way. Hopefully Sir Alex will make an appearance this time

Up the O's!

Follow me on Twitter! @lauriehann

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Colchester United - 1st March 2014

Orient gain victory over Colchester but drop to 2nd in League One.

A quick review - This game was billed as the A12 derby before kick-off. The Hearns seem to know their stuff when it comes to sports promotion, but I think even this was a step too far for them. Anyway, in a derby that is rivalled only be the El Clasico, it was Orient who came out on top to secure a hugely important 3 points.

After a lively opening in which efforts on goal were pretty limited, it was Orient who took the lead through Mooney as he rifled an unstoppable shot past the keeper following a Cox cross. It was no more than Orient deserved as they restricted Colchester to long range efforts and set pieces.

In the second half, Colchester threw caution to the wind in the search of an equaliser and if it wasn't for some heroics from Jakupovic, we could've found ourselves level much earlier than we did. Eventually Colchester did get a deserved equaliser, Marcus Bean heading home despite Jakupovic's best attempts to save it. It was poor defending in the build up though, as Dickson was given too much time to pick a cross on the left.

Thankfully Colchester showed some tactical naivety as they went in search of a winner, and it was from this that Orient were able to break with pace firstly through Batt, who bundled the ball through to Odubajo who finished confidently.

It wasn't a great performance by the O's, but it was a massive result with Brentford dropping points at Carlisle.

Man of the match - the match sponsors gave the award to Moses, who in fairness did have a good game but personally, I'd have given it to Eldin. His triple save at the start of the second half was something special as he denied Massey. The transformation he's brought to the side has been phenomenal with his commanding presence giving the defence a much needed confidence boost after the 3 consecutive defeats in February. I also particularly enjoyed the way he fell to the ground after claiming a cross late in the 2nd half.

On the other hand, Jabo showed all the reasons why we love him. His turn on the touchline to get away from Sawyer, run 40 yards to goal then pass it to a player about 25 yards out summed him up quite perfectly. As much as we'd all love him to come back, I don't think he's as good as what we currently have, but he was a proper handful for Clarke and Cuthbert, and it was nice that he acknowledged the great reception he got after the game.

What next? - Notts County. With only 12 games remaining it doesn't take a genius to work out that every game is vitally important. Our next two games are away at teams who still have something to play for. Notts County are scrapping for their lives, and they will be keen to make amends for the thrashing they got off Rotherham yesterday. Port Vale also still have an outside chance of sneaking a play-off spot. All we can do is focus on what we're doing, and if we can grind out another win it will keep the pressure on the teams around us. 

Up the O's!

Follow me on Twitter! @lauriehann

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Swindon Town - 22nd February 2014

Orient return to the top of League One with victory over Swindon.

A quick review - With a lot of focus being understandably put upon the game at Griffin Park it was important Orient didn't lose their focus, and they didn't as they were rarely under threat from a weakened Swindon side. 2-0 probably wasn't a fair reflection of the difference in quality of the 2 sides. 

Both penalties came from great play from Chris Dagnall, who I felt put in his best performance since Crewe away last month. The 1st, he put a lovely through ball to Odubajo, who drew the foul from the full back. For the second he played another great ball behind the defence, and Mooney was bundled over by Troy Archibald Henville.

I'm not sure if Archibald-Henville's first sport is football, but his performance yesterday certainly suggests it shouldn't be. The phrase "bull in a china shop" is probably the most apt way to describe what was one of the worst individual performances I've seen since Geraint Williams decided to give James Scowcroft a run out.

Swindon looked pretty jaded after their JPT defeat in midweek, something Orient fans can relate to having gone out at the same stage last season. However, despite this they will need to improve drastically to find themselves in a play-off berth come the end of the season. Ironic jeers greeted the play from the away end after they finally managed to work the ball out wide, only for the winger to find the TJS with his cross.

Man of the match - Lloyd James took his penalties well, and what I mean by that is that he scored them. With our penalty record this season, it wasn't surprising that most fans (and even some of the players) were unable to watch. Thankfully Lloydinho was able to give the keeper the eyes and send him the wrong way each time. 

It wasn't just Lloyd who had a good game though. The defence was as solid as it has been all season, and it was nice that Omozusi was able to slot straight back in having missed the last couple of games through injury. 

Dagnall up front was superb too, setting up the two penalties and was also unlucky not to have a couple of goals himself - one effort dropping agonisingly against the post and another effort being ruled out for a push, which nobody apart from the referee saw. 

What next? - Colchester United. Another home game for Orient and with Wolves and Brentford having a couple of games in hand, it's important that we make these home games count. If we perform like we did yesterday though, I see no reason why we can't pick up another vital 3 points. With the team seemingly settled again with a reliable goalkeeper at the back and with a very strong bench should we need to change things around, it's setting up the last dozen or so games nicely. What's also nice is that we are now level on the same points as Tranmere finished on last season - so the chances of us "doing a Tranmere" seem pretty slim not don't they?

Up the O's!

Follow me on Twitter! @lauriehann

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Stevenage - 18th February 2014

Orient return to winning ways against Stevenage

A quick review - A game in which Orient had things pretty much sewn up by the end of the first half. The first goal came about after some nice interplay down the right. Dagnall probably should've done better with his initial effort but it came back to Odubajo who made no mistake. With the second goal, Mooney, Dagnall and Cox pressed very well high up the field and on an evening where Stevenage were very direct from the back, the one time they weren't was taken advantage of as Dagnall and Mooney exchanged passes to make it 2-0. I'm not sure if there was a shout for offside when the ball went to Mooney but a 2nd goal was the least the O's deserved.  There was only one real effort of note from Stevenage in the first half, Jimmy Smith taking advantage of his ghost-like presence to hammer a shot straight at Jakupovic.
In the second half Stevenage did improve and were unlucky not to grab a goal with some great defending from Clarke preventing Darius Charles from breaking through and big Edin making a great save in injury time. Trevor Kettle also had Graham Westley boiling over after turning down loud shouts for a penalty, Westley throwing a tantrum that a toddler would've been proud of.

Man of the match - It was a much more assured performance from the O's, particularly after the last home game against Bristol City. Jakupovic (one dodgy kick aside) was commanding in goal with one particularly excellent save in injury time, Sawyer was much improved at left-back, James had an excellent game in midfield and Dagnall was lively up front. Standing out though was Moses who provided a constant threat all game on the right. He also supported Cuthbert well in defence and more than deserved his goal.

What next? -Swindon Town. With Brentford facing Wolves this weekend, this could arguably be classed as the biggest game of the season so far. With 2 more home games to come, followed by 2 very winnable away games, it sets up the Brentford game in front of the Sky cameras nicely. We now have 64 points on the board, a total we reached with only 4 games remaining last season. With 14 games remaining we've got a great platform to reach our initial 75 point target quickly and who knows where that will take us to the end of the season. With Omozusi hopefully to return this Saturday we could have a fully fit squad to pick from, and with Lisbie getting a rest last night, it's boding well for the next few games.

Up the O's!

Follow me on Twitter! @lauriehann

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Bristol City - 11th February

The O's suffer a 3rd defeat on the spin to Bristol City

A quick review - A game in which Orient flew out of the blocks like an asthmatic man with a limp, we found ourselves 2-0 down before actually touching the ball. Ok a slight exaggeration, but it's been a while since Orient were completely outplayed like they were in the first half hour of the game.
Again the defending left a lot to be desired.  Sawyer did little to prevent the shot from Baldock to come in for the first, a free header for the second which seemed to go through Odubajo who was stood on the far post and the less said about the third the better.
In between the goals conceded, once we finally did get going after 45 minutes, we did look reasonably good going forward. Lisbie followed in well to snatch a goal back, and only stoic defending from Bristol City prevented an equaliser going in. As Slade said after the game, at 2-1 the next goal was the important one, and we failed to get it. The 3rd took the sting out of the attack afterwards and despite plenty of effort, no clear cut chances were created.

Man of the match - Not many candidates again for this one sadly. Baudry seemed the only one intent on actually playing football in the first half, playing some nice balls forward but even that fell apart in the second half. Lisbie was excellent up front, held the ball up well and took his chance well. Cox's delivery was pretty good but apart from that it was a very disappointing performance. The defence was very shaky, probably not helped by the perfromance by Jalal in goal and the midfield was struggling to pick up any second ball.

What next? - Preston North End. Having made a pig's ear of the games in hand, it's important we pick up a result here to avoid us getting sucked into the race for the play-offs behind. It'll be interesting to see which line-up Slade will go with. What's important is that we get Omozusi back as soon as possible. He's arguably been our best player this season, and against pacy wingers, he's a class above Sawyer, as was evidenced with Baldock last night. The 'keeper situation also needs sorting and it seems there's already a queue of people ready to drive up to Hull to go and pick Jakupovic up. With Jalal's confidence already shot to pieces, it will be interesting to see if Slade goes with Larkins. He may still be inexperienced, but there's not many goalkeepers who will make their 2nd career appearance in front of a crowd of over 28,000 and perform as well as he did. We can at least console ourselves with the fact that we'll do a job to play worse than we did yesterday.

Up the O's!

Follow me on Twitter! @lauriehann

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Peterborough United - 8th February 2014

The O's suffer back to back defeats for the first time this season.

A quick review - It was a game we probably didn't deserve to win, but there's no doubt we didn't deserve to lose it in that manner.

The first half was pretty even, Orient playing some lovely attacking football and we could easily have been leading at half time with Cox's volley thumping the post. It wasn't all one way traffic though as Peterborough could easily have been given a penalty for a handball and they too played some nice football.

In the second half we pressed higher up the pitch, and we took the lead after a lovely free kick from James on the right. Peterborough always looked dangerous though, Jalal tipping Assombalonga's curling effort onto the post just before we scored, with the rebound fired wide when it seemed easier to score. The equaliser came from a set piece which was very disappointing. Clarke being beaten to the first header and Assombalonga given the freedom of Leyton to head home. The winner again could've been avoided, Rowe given too much time and space to fire in a shot from the edge of the box, which Jalal should've done better with.

In a game that was tighter than a pair of Simon Cowell's trousers, Slade should've brought on Bartley to shore up the midfield for the last 10 minutes. Alas, he brought on a striker who sometimes plays in midfield in Simpson and although we could've scored again after he came on, it was the wrong change to make.

Man of the match - David Mooney. Took his goal nicely and was easily our most effective attacking player. He won most of his headers and linked up nicely, particularly when Lisbie came on. It's clear to me that our best strike pair is Lisbie and Mooney, purely due to the great understanding they have. Although that's not difficult, has anyone heard Dagnall's accent? Subtitles definitely required.

What next? - Bristol City. If we're to maintain our push for a spot in the top 2 this game is massive. Yesterday was our game in hand after Brentford and Wolves had their games postponed and although we lost, we have another opportunity to go top this Tuesday. What we have to ensure is that we start to see out games like we have done so many times this season, we could easily have had another 4 points if we had seen the last 2 games out better. Still, that's all part of supporting Orient.

Image of the day -

This was how the away end was left by the "Posh" fans. I can only presume their nickname is ironic. 

Up the O's!

Follow me on Twitter! @lauriehann

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Rotherham United - 1st February 2014

The O's suffer only their 4th league defeat of the season at Rotherham.

A quick review - It's never nice losing to Steve Evans.

The first half was a largely forgettable affair, going behind early on to a goal that could easily have been avoided whilst chances were at a premium up the other end. We were lucky not to fall further behind as we struggled to cope with the crosses coming in. It was only after Slade changed things round, bringing Mooney on for the ineffective Simpson, that things picked up, Odubajo finishing with aplomb to level it up. But in difficult conditions we lost it to another goal that should've been avoided, Revell scoring with what was to be fair an excellent finish after sloppy play from the O's.

The manner in which the goals we conceded was most disappointing. For the first goal Cox gave the ball away too easily on the left, and with no pressure on either the impressive Pringle who swung the ball in, or the striker left unmarked in the middle to nod home.  For the second, in a desperate attempt to launch a counter attack, Alnwick contrived to kick the ball about a 3rd of the way down the pitch (something more regularly seen during the half time game between the Under-8s) and with no pressure on Revell from the back 4 he planted a decent finish in the bottom corner. Both could easily have been avoided and who knows what the end result could've been.

Take nothing away from Rotherham though, they adapted well to the windy conditions and on balance they probably deserved the 3 points. Shame about the fat embarrassment who ran on the pitch after the winner though, given the freedom of the O's 18 yard box until Romain tried to usher him off. Rumours that it was Steve Evans are yet to be confirmed. What the "stewards" were doing was unknown at the time, but after the game it became clear that they were all busy holding up metal fences outside.

Man of the match - Unfortunately, there's not many candidates this week with a host of players playing below the high standard they've set themselves this season. If I had to pick one player though it would be Omozusi. Resolute in defence as always, he was also one of the few O's players who were able to find their teammates with a pass. In fairness the conditions were atrocious, but it's a shame so few players managed to adapt. An honourable mention to Dagnall who did superbly to set up Mo's goal, doing what's known in League 1 as a "Mo" by skinning the full back before clipping in a great ball.

What next? - Peterborough. Although this result is a setback, with 5 out of our next 6 games coming at home we've got an excellent chance of re-claiming a spot in the top 2. Hopefully with Mooney getting closer to full match fitness and Lisbie confirmed to not be out for long by Slade, we'll see a more effective striker pairing from the start than Simpson and Dagnall. With a bit of luck, we won't have to play in a galestorm this time and Slade will be able to keep his hat on. 

Up the O's!

Follow me on Twitter! @lauriehann