The west stand is being replaced by a new stand/leisure complex so that left just the new-ish south stand & ancient (ex-Tooting&Mitcham 1953) main (East) stand in which we sat at the north end (where I’d been with the PNE lads for the 3-0 years ago). However, at half-time my old Orient mate Steve came over to say hello & suggest that the north end may never be built, even though planning permission for a stand had been given, and the consortium was running out of money so the partly-built west side may not proceed further. Shades of the
The programme had a column from the club chaplain, Rev. Alan Comfort. He had been O’s left-winger, & explained how he thought he was moving to
It had been very wet during the day, but the pitch proved less oleaginous than feared. However, during the game subcutaneous puddles did appear and affected footholds & ball behaviour. One change from Saturday: Maher for the cup-tied Howe. Is “H” intending to loan Eddie elsewhere soon? We kicked off towards the south end, in the sky-blue version of our home strip. First blood to Cherries – Stock firing over the bar. Bit difficult to see that one – our view was obscured by a stanchion. We could see the SW corner flag & the south goal, but not the area in between. O’s came back into it, & looked strong & eager. The wind came into our stand, affecting flight. Cummings was often the out-ball, and was involved when Hayter was bundled over. The free led to our (cleared) corner. Then Elliott appeared at left-half, which concerned me big-time. Stock lost the ball and exposed our gold-leaf defence – pretty on paper but thin & ineffectual as O’s shipped the ball in & out, a chip over & the no.10 headed into Moss’s right corner. 1-0, 12 mins. This was a game neither could afford (literally) to lose, with both clubs desperate for money from a cup run, & O’s were all over us. The no.7 hit over from a great cross, then Young’s cross led to a header for a corner; 3 pings at the goal but bodies were in the way. Another left-wing cross was just too far for the no.7 to connect; Taffy Fletch then overcooked a free well over the bar. Elliott’s left-footer from wide right was caught under the bar, so we weren’t out of it, but Browning’s poor passing kept giving O’s the advantage. He was not the only culprit, as the no.8 showed aggression & skill in beating 3 players & shooting over. Elliott responded with a great low cross to the near post.
We were really messy; O’s were on top, with Holmes having to make 2 good defensive headers. Apart from the occasional neat pass this was his main contribution; I don’t like sledging people, as it doesn’t help morale especially if players read these reports, but as I’ve said before Deadly gives everything of his very limited ability (& even less mobility). The no.3 shot just wide – as it turned out, the last warning sign. Stock broke out of defence, slipped the ball to Cummings & you felt the instincts suddenly fall into place. He beat his man & barged through, passed inside, a lay-off & Browning hit a screamer into the goalie’s top right-hand corner. What a beauty! 1-1, 33 mins.
O’s took a deep breath, & Broadhurst was yellowed for bundling over their player in their half. Stock made 2 good tackles but the 2nd was adjudged a foul. Elliott over-hit the cross after another good, weaving run. Hayter to Elliott, cross, 2 shots at the keeper then wide showed we’d gained the ascendancy. We adopted a policy of shoot on sight – amazing! We’re better when we raise the tempo & pass quickly.
Starting where we left off, Holmes laid off Cummings’s cross but Elliott hit over. Hayter was bundled over but we were offside from the free. Elliott’s trickery & cross saw Holmes head back; a lay-off & Taffy Fletch shot wide. Cummings & Elliott were being brought in all the time – is this O’Kelly’s influence, or Grant’s absence? Elliott put in a low cross too near the keeper, then O’s fought back with a corner; the resulting shot saw Moss tip over brilliantly. Class act. Their defender ran rings round Holmes, but Cummings had followed up & so was on hand to take advantage of an appalling mix-up between defender & goalie to take the ball, dribble round the prostrate keeper & perform the football equivalent of transubstantiation – not turning water into wine, or bread into flesh (that’s Rev. Comfort’s dept.), but turning the ball into the net. He raced over to us & stood, chest out & grinning wildly, receiving the plaudits. 1-2, 64 mins.
Loads of blue pressure, with Elliott breaking constantly. Right-wing corner, Stock raised 2 hands so far-post. Hayter was in his traditional position – unmarked at the back stick. He put the outside of his right foot to the ball which went across the despairing keeper & in the far corner; nonchalance personified. 1-3, 71 mins. Clear blue water between the sides; O’s now a mess. Even so, from a corner they shot & headed wide. They kept trying to go forward, but ineffectually, with poor passing. Hayter even tried a back-heel through the defence to Holmes. Elliott’s strong attack let Hayter cut back & shoot at the keeper. Stock gave Young the chance to cut in & shoot left-footed & wide. Connell & O’Connor came on for Holmes & Stock respectively, & ran around in a ship-shape manner. Taffy Fletch was yellowed – but I missed it; probably behind the pillar.
O’s shot wide twice; the 2nd drew “almost in the same postcode” from behind me. We were having fun. Twice Cummings crossed to almost Connell, O’Connor shot wide, O’s headed over and we applauded the Blues off the pitch. FT: 1-3.
Job done, with thankful accent on attack. Some questions still on defence & its midfield cover, but that’s 10 goals in 4 games so let’s appreciate that. An historic evening – our first win here in 55 years, & the first win seen by my friends Izzy & Jim at the 4th attempt.
Elliott – just, over Cummings – for always looking to attack & bamboozle his marker. He’s almost back to his best.
AFCB (4-4-2): Moss; Young, Broadhurst, Maher, Cummings; Elliott, Browning, C. Fletcher, Stock (O’Connor, 87); Hayter, Holmes (Connell, 86).
Unused subs: Stewart, Coutts, Rowe