Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Orient Express

When invited to the posh seats at Leyton Orient, one expects to rub shoulders with some retired armed robbers, or perhaps a local pie and mash entrepreneur.

Thus imagine my surprise when the seat next to me was occupied by renowned classical cellist, Julian Lloyd Webber.

Lloyd Webber is of course a huge Orient fan, and is considered very much the 'Phil Neville' of the music world......not as rich or talented as his brother, but unfortunately no better looking by way of consolation.

To be fair to the guy, he's clearly no casual fan. He was clattering into every tackle and challenging for every header with his beloved Os, and when he was out of his seat early in the first half insisting Jonjo Shelvey should be 'OFF!', I thought he might well be.

Charlton are doing a very passable impression of a football team right now. For the first time in nearly two years, there is finally a very real and deserved sense that we've turned a corner.

The most pleasing aspect of the night was not the third win, or some of our passing which was again very fluent, although we took a while to get it going.

Instead, it was the very clear sense that every single one of the players on show was absolutely committed to the cause.

Combined with the fact that the midfield especially contains some outstanding players at this level, and it's possible to feel good about the team again.

I'm comfortable enough with my sexuality to acknowledge too, that Phil Parkinson really does look terrific in a suit.

The contrast with the dumpy training kit and boots worn by his former assistant in the home dugout, could not have been starker. If more of our fans were women, we might have sung a few songs about Parky by now (a few more wins like this however, and he won't have too long to wait).

The first half was a rather scrappy affair, full of honest endeavour by both sides, a little too much to be frank particularly from Charlton. Controlled aggression is an attractive trait, but giving away stupid fouls in unthreatening positions is not.

Given that it takes perhaps half a dozen accurate and consecutive passes to set up a promising crossing opportunity, it is infuriating when we gift the opposition the chance to do exactly that from a dead ball and with a ten-yard space infront.

Orient's opener came from just such a situation. Going nowhere down the right flank, Therry Racon challenged unlawfully rather than standing his ground, and from the subsequent free-kick, the delightfully-named Tamika Mkandawire rose unmarked to steer home.

Deon Burton had already gone close with an opportunist far post effort, whilst Shelvey could not find the ideal finish to the game's best passing move, shooting over with his weaker left foot from twelve yards. His superb second half strike more than compensated for his profligacy.

At half-time our hosts acknowledged that Charlton were the better side, but one feared it would be one of those infuriating nights. The faithful Addicks that filled the East Stand had been fairly quiet, awakening only to confuse the team with its occasional chants of 'Come on you Reds'.

Although Charlton dictated the tempo throughout the second period, it was Orient's Ryan Jarvis that had the first real chance, screwing his shot wide of Rob Elliot's upright when the ball squirmed free on the edge of the box.

Charlton's best opportunity meanwhile had come from the unlikely left boot of Miguel Angel Llera, sporting menacing-looking protective headgear but showing no shortage of guile, with a terrific free-kick that was tipped over by Jamie Jones.

However with the Addicks taking a real stranglehold of the game, and with Racon particularly beginning to pull the midfield strings, the patient approach finally paid dividends in the 64th minute.

In truth the goal was uncharacteristically 'route one'. A low driven Elliot kick was flicked on by Burton before being helped on by Lloyd Sam into the path of Shelvey.

The youngster still had plenty to do but you wouldn't necessarily have known it as he chested down, swivelled and fired home all in one motion. An ecstatic moment for the travelling Addicks, but perhaps not what we needed if we want to hold on to his precocious talent.

We were now all over the Os like a cheap suit (not that Parkinson would recognise that concept), although clearcut chances were few and far between as the home side defended doggedly on a beautiful evening in East London.

Again the winner when it came was fairly direct, suggesting that for all of our enterprising passing football, sometimes it pays just to lump it.

Fraser Richardson's hopeful punt forward was misjudged by Mkandawire, and Burton completed a hard-working but largely quiet night with a calm finish over the stranded Jones. His second goal of the season remarkably similar to his first up at Hartlepool.

Clearly my impersonation of a Leyton Orient fan had been a respectable one, because Lloyd Webber turned to me and said, "That's not what we needed." No it wasn't Julian, no it certainly wasn't.

Parkinson handed Chris Solly a rare cameo in place of the impressive Sam, as the team defended its lead for the final few minutes.

Thankfully there was none of the blind panic on show which characterised the final stages of the Wycombe victory, and the players and their coaching staff celebrated joyously in front of the 3,500 hardy Addicks. For the first time in a very long time, we were all again as one.

Here are my ratings:

Elliot 6 - a couple of straightforward saves from long-range efforts, but stranded for the goal and possibly at fault too; I remain concerned about his lack of presence

Richardson 6 - a solid and delibrately unshowy display; rarely troubled by Jason Demetriou and claims an assist for the winner

Youga 6 - came more into the game in the second half as an attacking presence, but defended with the assurance that has sometimes been lacking

Llera 7 - won several important headers, although one suspects Mkandawire was probably his man for their goal; has the looks, style and presence to be a cult hero someday, especially if keeps throwing his shirt into the crowd

Dailly 7 - his experience often gets him out of trouble when you fear he's been beaten for pace, or mistimed a ball; would appear a more obvious captain than Nicky Bailey

Semedo 7 - arguably the most important player in the side, and the fulcrum around which the rest of the team pivots; acknowledges his limitations and leaves the flair to others

Racon 7 - kept the team driving on in the second half, and was unlucky with a long-range speculative effort; his commitment to the cause was obvious and pleasing

Shelvey 8 - began the game with the maturity of a temperamental toddler, but showed his class in the end; plays with the freedom that Semedo is denied

Bailey 6 - showed some rare second half glimpses of genuine wideplay, and was unlucky with a typical late-arriving header; generally quiet however

Sam 7 - a handful for the opposition all evening with his pace and trickery, upon his return to Brisbane Road; plenty still to work on but his attitude seems spot on

Burton 6 - largely manhandled out of the game, and was probably about to be substituted for Andy Gray when he scored his opportunist winner; a thankless role in a 4-5-1 formation


At 10:09 AM, Blogger Kings Hill Addick said...

I agree with all that and your comments about Burton's 'thankless role' needs to be addressed.

If we are going to keep the midfield players (Shelvey in particular) Burton is going to have play to bring the best out of the side.

I don't believe that we have another player that can perform that role but for some reason he is a target for some of the fans.

Rather like Semedo he needs to be recognised for what he does, and what he brings to the side. We can't have ten flair players and rather like Kish of yesteryear we (as fans) need to learn to appreciate those less glamorous players, and the jobs they do.

It was a good night though wasn’t it?

At 10:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did you sit on your hands when the winner went in??? Surely then Julian would have known?


At 11:28 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a few observations.

1. I was sitting with the home fans in the South Stand and given the number of people supressing grins when burton scored the winner, I don't think I was the only Addick in with the East London riff-raff.

2. Shelvey was disappointing in the first half again - he seemed disinterested and perhaps thought he was above League 1. Totally different player in the second half - skilful, committed and probably the best player on the pitch. He seems to thrive on the crowd chanting his name (like any 17 year old would!).

3. Still unconvinced about Llera - he's direct which may be good enough for League 1, but his touch is not confidence inspiring. Dailly on the other hand is starting to look like a super signing.

4. Bailey is def one of our better player, but he seems to be getting a little too caught up with arguing with the ref etc. I'd suggest giving the armband to Dailly or Richardson (captain at Leeds).

5. Share your concerns about Keeper Elliot. Looks like a boy doing a mans job.

6. Overall - fantastic evening. We're going to walk the league!

At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent report , but can't agree with you on Burton .
I thought he was absolutely magnificent. He plays against 3 or 4 6ft plus defenders and wins ball after ball. He's the best target man weve had since Shaun Bartlett.
Other than that , wasn't it great ???

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Rod Hambo said...

Great blog. Burton was certainly the topic of conversation around me last night at Brisbane Rd. I think his cool, relaxed approach gives the impression he doesn’t care but those with greater football intelligence (I make no apologies for saying that!!!) will be well aware that he is a very important player for us this year, and the way he celebrated the winner tells you everything about his desire. And the way things are going, he could well chip in with a decent amount of goals. A top night that signifies so much more than 3 points from a win. I think we all are begining to believe we've turned a corner...and God, I hope I'm right.

At 8:20 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just registered and wanted to pop in and introduce myself to the community. Let me just say that it is a great forum that you have here.

Here are some other web sites and blogs that might be of interest to you.

[url=][/url] -
[url=][/url] -
[url=][/url] -
[url=][/url] -

skin care products and tips and tricks


Post a Comment

<< Home