Question of the WeekHow important is data in League 2 football?
The Oriental Way
By: Andrew Doherty
THE sun rises in the east. This is the east of London where we return after our previous day of glory and celebration, but this time it’s more mundanely for our season’s opening fixture at Leyton Orient.
In a division where there is only one obvious villain in my mind, of whom more no doubt in a later report, and with others maybe to emerge, the home club today fall on the other side by offering tickets to home and away supporters at £10 a throw. The unfortunate thing is that because of availability, rail strikes and the cost of travel, I’d guess, not all supporters can take advantage. Many supporters including myself were squeezed out of games at the end of last season because of ticket limitations, and it looks to be the same this year. There were very few seats left in the Town section today, with 1,242 vocal fans contributing to the total crowd of 8,557. Fighting to get tickets will be no fun, and ultimately will lead to a loss of interest if we’re not careful, assuming the team performances and results don’t manage to achieve that. At this moment with no games played optimism reigns supreme. In his pre-match address Chief Guru Hurst advised us not to be over-emotional. There was going to be no danger of transgression on the Wise One’s part, I was sure, as he now cautiously leads us into new Promised Lands.
An unknown quantity is the footballing side. Pre-season results are no guide, no-one knows if Town’s new signings will fit in and I have no idea if Leyton Orient have strengthened their squad. They no doubt like us are optimistic. On the face of it we seem to be short on strikers but are looking good otherwise. Today’s game was an early but far from definitive benchmark. The team on show for Town today was: Crocombe – Efete, Waterfall, Smith, Glennon – Holohan, Green, Morris, Clifton – Kiernan, McAtee.
A week ago we were demolishing Tenerife B on their home turf. I have visions of the home side playing their tiki taka football, Town winning a throw-in and Cropper causing havoc with one of his launched bombs into the box. No-one thought of that back in the days of Iniesta and co. I doubt Leyton Orient are a team which embraces tiki taka. Time to find out. Town were in the new royal blue away kit. Orient wore their customary red. Both sides passed the ball around. Town looked to be finding their feet while Orient played with greater purpose at the start. The first action came on 4 minutes when Crocombe punched a Moncur shot clear. A mistake by Green was almost punished when Moncur found Sotirion, whose shot dribbled wide of the post. On 13 minutes Town launched an attack with a quick passing move. Clifton and Glennon worked together. A low cross came in from the left. Kiernan was unlucky not to poke it home. Town followed this up with a corner. A Clifton error saw Smyth break clear but Morris did well to shepherd him away. A sublime chip from Thompson over Town’s defence fell to Smyth who dragged his shot wide. It was Town’s turn on 22 minutes when nice work on the right from Efete resulted in a Holohan volley which went straight to Orient’s keeper Vigouroux. The game stopped for 5 minutes for an injury to Holohan who continued with a freshly bandaged head. On resumption, James slipped, McAtee took possession and started a move but no-one could get on to Glennon’s cross. A foul on Clifton led to a Glennon cross but Smith was offside, as Town got back into the game. On 33 minutes Orient attacked. Smyth shot. Smith was there to block it but the ball caught his arm: free-kick on the edge of the penalty area. Moncur stepped up and blasted it wide of the wall and wide of the post. This was now end to end. Clifton made a good interception. Glennon foiled Archibald. Morris had a shot which Vigoroux fumbled. Orient cleared. McAtee attempted an audacious and unsuccessful chip over Vigouroux. This was a good open game. McAtee robbed Pratley but his shot was neither hard or wide enough to beat the heavily employed Vigouroux. Town pressed. Holohan forced Orient into the corrner. James was booked for kicking the advancing Clifton in the stomach. A nice move between Efete and Kiernan earned Hunt a booking as Town finished the half well on top after Orient’s earlier sharp play. 0 - 0 at half time. Lessons learnt so far: opposing teams think and play quicker at this leve, and will punish mistakes. But Town matched Orient and look to have plenty of armoury of their own.
Town started the second half as they had left off. A diagonal pass from McAtee found Kiernan whose low cross to Holohan was perfect but Holohan screwed his shot wide. Orient countered on 48 minutes. Moncur cut up the left and blasted a shot from outside the box which struck Waterfall. Moncur appealed. The referee awarded a penalty. Waterfall had no chance. Crocombe went the right way but Moncur’s penalty was well placed and went under Town’s goalkeeper. Town 0, Orient 1. Town struggled to deal with this and looked distracted. On 55 minutes an Efete tackle led to an Orient corner. The ball was cleared to James 30 yards out. Instead of lifting the ball in, James saw the opportunity for a volley and crashed a left footed screamer into the top corner, leaving Crocombe with no chance. Orient 2, Town 0. To step things up a bit, Maguire-Drew and Taylor came on for Green and Kiernan. Kiernan had been particularly impressive with his control, running, crosses and positional play. This was on 65 minutes. Orient won a free-kick immediately deep in Town’s half and from it Clifton was lucky not to concede an own goal with his sliced clearance. From the corner Sotirion turned and Town were again lucky that his shot went inches wide. Not only were Orient dominating play but they looked sharp and were professional in the way that they managed possession and time. Town struggled but did win a throw after a long Maguire-Drew clearance to McAtee, who himself won a free-kick after 75 minutes 35 yards out on the right. Maguire-Drew’s delivery was poor and the cross went straight to Vigouroux. McAtee then got in a fracas after impeding Vigouroux. The game had become ill-tempered and nightly. This wasn’t helping Town. On 77 minutes a cross ball from Efete found McAtee who for the second time this afternoon tried to chip the keeper but the party piece didn’t work and the shot went wide to McAtee’s frustration. Cropper and Wearne now came on to replace Clifton and Glennon. Efete went out left. But no progress was made. Instead, Crocombe got into a tangle when trying to dribble the ball past Orient’s Smith, but fortunately for Town Smith pushed Crocombe in the process. Town’s Smith then did well to cut out a pass from Sotirion and a clear goal scoring opportunity. This was like Orient Men v Grimsby Boys at this stage. The crowd around me got frustrated with Town’s players, ignoring Leader Hurst’s counsel, as Orient marked their men, leaving no options as Town passed the ball across the pitch in the vain hope of finding an opening. Town had lost their way. Orient were closing the game out. There were incidents but mostly of the wrong sort. Twice Cropper gave a master class in the art of long throws to his Orient counterpart, and following one of them Taylor had a shot blocked. McAtee was given a yellow card after another altercation after attempting to block a Vigouroux clearance before continuing the argument with the referee. Orient looked the more likely to score, and both Moncur and Archibald had good opportunities to increase the lead following good play and lapses in concentration, Archibald’s shot being flicked away for a corner. Five minutes were added but Town had long since run out of ideas. So it ended: Leyton Orient 2, Town 0.
This is what we are up against. The Wise One is right. We do have to step up, and although we were good in patches, we were unable to control the game as Orient did, lacked a strike force and weren’t ready for this higher level of skill and intensity. Clearly, the team has to get to know each other. I think that Orient will be one of the higher placed teams so as our leader says, we must not get over emotional about this. We must remain Zen. I believe this is something they are good at in the Orient.
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