Looking back, I didn’t mind Saturday. I didn’t mind it at all.
OK, we weren’t much better than usual, and the stand seemed to be disintegrating around us. But there is nothing quite like 3 points on the road. Especially since the last one I witnessed was at Bramall Lane in 2010. That’s right, I missed Oldham. I missed Hull. I missed Portsmouth. I missed Scunthorpe.
I’m no City-slacker though. While I’m not at every away game, I do make a fair bundle over the course of the season. It just so happens that all the places I go to, we don’t win at. Most of you will have similar problems obviously.
As frustrating as it’s been, at least the places we’ve travelled to so far this year have turned out to be interesting. Orient was no exception.
Arriving – seeing all the Olympic venues
Leyton Orient is close – really close – to all the oddly-shaped venues that had us so captivated over the Summer. It was sentimental stuff. The closest I got to the Olympics was a bit of Japanese fun at the Ricoh. Even if you’re just whizzing your way past the Hockey arena and that building that looks like a cuboid Michelin Man, it’s hard to explain the sense of fondness you feel towards the place. I can see why Orient want to get involved in the legacy.
Just around the corner from all that is Brisbane Road, right in the middle of everything, with a kind of Highfield Road feel about it.
I’m not much of a pub-goer, so like to avoid boozing when I go to the football. Unfortunately, this meant I was sober whilst being frisked to buggery by a very officious steward. He had me open up the numerous pockets of my winter coat and justify my Boost, glasses case and emergency gloves. Thorough stuff, but a bloody nuisance as it ruined my strategic confectionery placement.
Being there – not being able to see things
We knew there was going to be an almighty pillar holding the stand together, but unfortunately when pillars are combined with various large people surrounding them, being able to see stuff becomes more of a challenge.
That’s nobody’s fault. It annoyed some people a whole lot more than it did me. This one lad and his dad turned up, took one look at the view and immediately entered into a ten minute long “Who can be more annoyed about the same thing?” dynamic.
“What a fucking waste of money”.
“A fucking waste of money”.
“Such a fucking waste”.
Hilarious stuff. Not for them, obviously. They were genuinely livid.
We weren’t really on our game again, but the key here was that Leyton Orient most certainly weren’t on their’s either. Defensively, they were extremely shaky, which seemed to be a clear symptom of their current bad form and tenseness.
I want to say that we took advantage of that, but in reality, we barely did. The mistake by the keeper which resulted in the early goal was the first of many opportunities handed to us, but the only one we were able to capitalise on. As is mandatory at the moment, McGoldrick was the one on hand to convert comfortably.
Robins made many changes to the starting line up, and while the possession continues to be an issue, there did feel like there was a bit more grit about the performance. What’s been called for of late, on the Nii Lamptey Show especially, is a nasty bastard in the middle of the pitch. This performance provided signs that Jennings could be that man after all. He doesn’t tackle cleanly, but he jabs his leg in loads, and he does so forcefully.
The midfield pairing was a seemingly cautious move, but prior to the game the hope was that they would be a bit more competent in possession than others this season. That didn’t really happen, as both players fell typically into the team’s panicked nature. It was a shame to see two players who I’d recognised as being solid holders of the ball look so uncomfortable with it.
Gary McSheffrey returned to the side just behind the main striker, and all in all, put in a surprisingly effective display. He missed a couple of gilt-edged chances when through on goal in the first half, but even so, he was lively and threatened with his movement. He was certainly far closer to the player we need him to be. Often he responds better to being left out – the key is whether he can find the motivation to perform once he feels he’s got a foot in the team.
It became clear in the second half that the approach in this game was simply to grind out a result, and if a counter-attack presented itself, we’d think about taking it. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t that impressive, but it got the job done in a match up between two teams clearly striving for a spark. I won’t suggest it to be a turning point just yet, as a better team could have easily picked us off, but at least they held on this time. That clean sheet in itself is an achievement following previous events of this season.
I gave some initial player ratings immediately after the match. Here they are, with a little extra detail as to my reasoning:
Joe Murphy – 6
Clean sheet, and a decent bit of keeping at the death meant he should be pleased. Continues to be planted to his line though, which from my perspective, leaves us vulnerable.
Cyrus Christie – 6
Came into the team and added an additional physical edge to the defence. Wasn’t as noticeable as he often is, but good return to the action.
Richard Wood – 7
Mopped up pretty much all that was thrown at him, in what was a forceful display.
William Edjenguele – 8
Straight back into the team, and I was really impressed. It all got a bit scrappy near the end of the game, but Billy Edge sorted all that out. I used the word imperious at the time – I stick by that.
Jamie Reckord – 5
He was prone to the old jelly legs again, and left me concerned on plenty of occasions. Not his best.
Carl Baker – 5
Really disappointing, yet again. Had a couple of moments, and did have the tame shot for the goal, but for a captain, the quality of his play is well below what is expected.
James Bailey – 5
Fairly anonymous, really. Had a few tough tackles to chuck himself into, but didn’t really perform well when in possession.
Steve Jennings – 6
We weren’t sure if he and Bailey could work in the centre together, but while the possession was off for the most part, the unit seemed to have some solidity. Some nasty tackles – not sure if that’s a good thing or not, but I know many people will want that from at least one of our midfielders.
John Fleck – 6
Showed flashes of quality. Does struggle on the left to get as involved as we’d like, but even so, it feels as though he’s gradually starting to have an influence on things.
Gary McSheffrey – 7
I was happy with his impact. Could and should have scored (the first chance was particularly wasteful), but for a return to the starting 11, it was promising.
David McGoldrick – 7
He scored again, which was great. He seemed to be a class above the defenders at points. However, did have one very greedy moment where he should have laid in McSheffrey, but chose to do it all himself, and messed up.