With Arter suspended (again) and Tubbs thankfully dropped, Eddie opted to depart from his usual 4-4-2 with a five man midfield and Grabban on his own up front. On this showing it was an experiment that may not be repeated in a hurry.
At first Bournemouth were at least competitive without threatening to test Jones in the Orient goal. A draw looked to be the limit of our ambition, but it was to prove well beyond us. Orient’s first goal after half an hour was a mess defensively. Baudry’s long ball caught Seaborne out of position and he compounded his error by assuming that the ball was going out for a goal kick and neglecting to chase back until it was too late. Unfortunately Mooney did decide to chase the ball, getting there before it went out and pulling it back for MacDonald to convert a simple chance from six yards out. Jalal subsequently had a lengthy and heated exchange of words with Seaborne.
Seaborne almost made amends for his error with a header from Francis’ cross which struck the underside of the bar before running down the arm of Vincelot on the line. Some half-hearted appeals for a penalty were turned down, probably correctly, although with the interpretation of what is deliberate currently favoured by some referees who knows?
Our task was made considerably harder early in the second half following another defensive non-masterclass. Cook was about to deal with a routine long ball but either failed to call or was ignored by O’Kane, whose attempt at a header went backwards, cutting out our entire defence and leaving MacDonald to run in unopposed for his second goal.
Pitman replaced Fogden, which seemed to help a little. He had a well-directed header turned over the bar by Jones and then scored with an exquisite cushioned left foot volley inside the far post after O’Kane picked him out with an equally good diagonal ball.
The ineffective Grabban was replaced by the ineffective Tubbs, but the late rally never materialised and hope was eventually snuffed out by Orient substitute Lisbie with a coolly taken goal after Ritchie had been beaten by the impressive Odubajo.
A deserved win for Orient, who would not have been flattered had the score been four or five. A fit Elphick and Daniels would doubtless solve most of the problems, but until that happens it’s hard to be too optimistic. Ritchie, considering he’s rather short and a right winger by trade, is by no means the worse left back we’ve ever had, and was certainly one of our better players on the day, but would be more gainfully employed further forward. It seems harsh to criticise Eddie after what has been achieved in a short time, but while Zubar may not be the perfect centre back he is quicker, better in the air and works harder than Seaborne. That Baudry chap wasn’t too bad either, as he demonstrated today.
Several formerly impressive players are now desperately out of form. Grabban had so little impact on this game he might as well have been Tubbs, O’Kane, magnificent ball to set up our goal aside, was a shadow of the player that was controlling midfield a month ago, and Hughes’ normally sure technique appears to have gone missing. Pugh was at least trying to run at opponents, but without Daniels in support was usually overwhelmed by weight of numbers. Porous defence, misfiring midfield, non-scoring strikers, this may be Eddie’s greatest test in either of his management spells at Dean Court.
Simon Francis put in his usual solid performance despite the shambles going on around him.
AFCB: Jalal, Francis, Cook, Seabourne, Ritchie, McQuoid, O'Kane, Fogden, Hughes, Pugh, Grabban
Subs: Allsop, Partington, MacDonald, Fletcher, Pitman (for Fogden, 55 mins), Tubbs (for Grabban, 74 mins), Fraser (for Pugh, 85 mins)
Richie Barker, Leyton