Arrivederci league one..

Posted: February 15, 2016 in Uncategorized



A match report from The August 2015 edition of leyton Orientear

Swindon Town 2 Leyton Orient 2

So the scene was set for the biggest end of regular season encounter involving the O’s since that glorious afternoon at the Kassam stadium 9 years earlier- or was it? Let’s be honest, I suppose that most of the 2,000 Orient contingent making the trip were just about resigned to the idea of league two football and re-aquainting ourselves with the likes of Hartlepool and Northampton after a 9 year absence.
And yet there was still an outside chance that we could sneak out of it at the death as our rivals for the three remaining relegation berths all had tricky looking matches to negotiate to save themselves. One win, allied to a superior goal difference could lead to the most unlikely escape acts since the days of Harry Houdini. I was one of those punters who took advantage of the free travel laid on by the club for this game and as we made our way into Swindon we tried to look for some positive omens in and around the town. We soon found ourselves surrounded by Orient related street names such as ‘Slade Road’, ‘Holland Avenue’ and the ominous ‘Sackville Close’ which looked as if it could have been getting ready to welcome a new resident moving in by 3pm in the afternoon. Even so, after getting into the ground and being greeted by the news that Swindon had made nine changes for this game hopes started to rise.
It had to be said that we got off to a flying start and got right in amongst a home side that could barely get out of their own half. Simpson, Dagnell and Wright all go close before we get a penalty after their keeper upends Lloyd James and gets sent off for his trouble. After an eternity in making the substitution the spot kick is finally taken by James (usually reliable) only for him to scuff it badly and give the keeper the chance to make an unlikely stop. At this point people were slipping into ‘Typical Orient’ mode and to be honest you couldn’t blame them.
Yet the O’s still come forward. Corners being cleared off the line, Dagnell and Simpson go close again and In-between Orient raids Swindon get a rare shot away but it is pushed away by Cisak. At last Cox scores after latching on to a through ball and smashing it past the advancing keeper after 40 minutes. The relief all around is immense and we have given ourselves a shout in the survival stakes. Orient go in at half time 1-0 up but I am not exaggerating when I tell you it should have been 6-0. At this point people’s phones are being studied like euro million tickets when you’ve got 5 numbers up and a ball to come and it turns out that we are in 20th place at the break and safe for now.
Round two starts off in exactly the same fashion. We dominate from the off and Dagnall slips number two home within two minutes from the re-start. Not long after this Dean Cox sends a shot smashing against the crossbar and it can only be a matter of how many we are going to score. Swindon go close with a distance shot but Josh Wright responds with an effort that shaves the upright. Then the story of the season; Swindon Score from a free kick after sloppy defending from Baudry gives Anton Rodgers the opportunity to tee up (it has to be said) a quality strike that flies into the top corner. All of a sudden we look venerable and collectively the team is found wanting when the chips are down. Swindon are now posing a real threat and Liverani decides to throw McAnuff on for Simpson and later Cuthbert on for Cox which doesn’t go down well with a few O’s fans as we desperately try to hold on. Meanwhile away from the County Ground results are still going our way and we are still a league one club. That is until Colchester Score against Preston and the most unlikely result out of the three that could go against us looks as if it’s going that way and taking our 9 year stay in this division with it.
Sure enough four minutes later O’Neil makes a rash challenge on the right hand side of our penalty area when he brings down Sam Ricketts. For those of us who saw the same player give away an identical penalty at Crawley six weeks earlier it made grim but predictable viewing. Up steps Andy Williams to send an unstoppable penalty past Cisak and we have blown a two goal lead in a game that should have been wrapped up 20 minutes earlier. However, in a frantic finish the O’s force a corner only for Josh Wright to put his header over from 8 yards. Shades of Ian Juryeff 30 years earlier and with the same bitter outcome as six minutes later we are relegated amid scenes of Scott Cuthbert arguing with some Swindon players and our own team on their haunches and defeated like they were at Wembley almost a year ago. Or was that a lifetime?
Liverani stands impassively by the dug out with his arms folded. It’s probably the first time today that they haven’t been whirling around like an epileptic wind farm but for him the writing is on the wall. He has got to go. So have a few of the players, too. It has been a season of turmoil virtually from day one and nobody can come out of this saying that they are blameless. I have been following this club for 35 years and from the three other relegations I’ve suffered I can say that this is the worst of the lot. Why? Quite simply because the other three came on the back of financial crises and Orient did well to stay in business. This time around we have had the biggest playing budget in our 109 year history as a league club, but the bottom line is that Becchetti, Milanese, Angelieri and Liverani have ran the football club like a bunch of crack addicts playing ‘FIFA15’. The result has been our relegation and humiliation over 9 months of self inflicted pain for the regular followers of this club to have endured in the process.
What does the future hold for the O’s? Your guess is as good as mine, but you just have to wonder if there is worse to come from the owners? I’d like to think that everyone in charge will take stock when the dust settles and look at how we got here. Then to form a plan of action and appoint people with some sort of pedigree at this level to get us back on our feet and become a proper football club again. Is relegation a disaster? A few will say no as it gives us a chance to start again from scratch and come back stronger. That is true but only up to a point. Historically, Orient never ‘bounce back’ from a relegation and it’s usually taken four or five years to get back on our feet after a season such as this one with some pretty terrible times wedged in between. I’d like to think that that this time next year we’ll be making plans for league one but this club has a massive rebuilding job to contend with before we get anywhere close to that.


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