Leyton Orient visited the County Ground and, like recent meetings, they beat Swindon Town convincingly. Brendan Hobbs gives his own unique take on proceedings…
I don’t do many match reports for The Washbag and I’m beginning to realise why, to date I’ve written two, one covered an uninspiring home draw with Oldham, the other was to report on a home defeat by one Leyton Orient, so at least I get to re-hash the headline I used last year.
So to escape being called the Washbag Jonah, I think should just stick to doing the occasional podcast, T-shirts, logos and writing cynical ramblings in the Press Watch articles.
You’ll be pleased to hear though, my irrational Panini fuelled Orient hatred still burns bright (see here for explanation) and by Panini I mean the sticker albums, not the overpriced, plasticky toasties that overpriced, plasticky coffee bars seem to sell to overpriced, plasticky people.
My match day didn’t start well, my neighbour spotted me getting into my car with my red and white scarf and yelled “fantabulous day to smash the Orient wouldn’t you say young fellow?” (he’s about 3 years older than me.) Now as well as his choice of words making me feel that I’d time warped back to Victorian times, it’s always a really bad sign when he passes judgement and makes scoring predictions. His last effort was when we were supposedly going to ‘wallop the Saddlers’ and we all know what happened there.
Mark Cooper made some minor adjustments to the starting eleven who like the Viking Olaf Tryggvason triumphed on some barren Essex wasteland near Colchester. One Thompson brother dropped out whilst the other returned, Alex Pritchard in place of Louis and Nathan replacing the ill Nathan Byrne.
Leyton Orient’s team read like a who’s who of experienced lower league players, all of which I’d happily like to have in Swindon’s squad – and it was those steady heads of Orient who had the first sight of goal. With two minutes on the clock, Scott Cuthbert reminded us all of his prodigious leaping ability with a towering header from a Dean Cox corner, but unfortunately for him, he showed a lack of accuracy as the ball sailed harmlessly over the bar.
Town started to find their feet and burst into life with a trademark run from Nathan Thompson, who dribbled into the box but unfortunately his effort was blocked.
Nicky Ajose was trying to match the havoc Nathan was causing on the right with a series of mazy runs of his own on the left, ultimately into a cul-de-sac each time, but still the threat was there. He then got his first glimpse of the onion bag on 12 minutes when he was played in by Massimo Luongo’s clever pass but the angle was tight and ‘keeper Jamie Jones made an easy save.
The next time Ajose saw the whites of the goalie’s eyes he should’ve scored, Cafu (Jay McEveley) scythed brilliantly through the static Orient midfield to slip a delicious pass into the diminutive striker’s path. While the Orient backline was a sea of raised hands and barked claims for offside, Ajose was steadying himself for a one-on-one with Jones, but the rising fans were soon crashing back to their seats as he promptly skewed the ball wide.
However, my comical, over-the-top disappointed sigh had barely cleared my lungs when finally Town got the breakthrough goal they deserved and that man Ajose claimed it.
Pritchard, in what was his only contribution of note, lashed a shot goalwards after some good interplay involving N’Guessan and Thompson left a pin-balling sphere just begging to be hit. An O’s defender managed a decent block but in the process he simultaneously set up Ajose while wrong footing his keeper, this time the striker made no mistake.
One-nil and on reflection, we deserved it, but with hindsight it turned out the worst thing we could have ever done. Straight from the standard kick-off routine, a lazy flick-on found Nathan Thompson seemingly daydreaming about what he was going to spend his win bonus on, leaving David Mooney to nip in behind him to snaffle the loose ball and brilliantly guide it over a static Wes Foderingham who was probably daydreaming about when his Bournemouth-based estate agent will call him back.
The whole game turned on that moment of defensive slackness and sheer brilliance from the Orient striker. From that moment on confidence just oozed from every player in gold, it was as if they all believed they were all worth the colour of their shirts – and they set about stealing an unlikely half-time lead. Swindon totally went the other way and never really showed the incisive passing and defence splitting guile again.
Meanwhile referee Chris Sarginson was getting annoyed by the lack of attention he was getting, what with all the nice passing and clinical finishing going on, so he decided to award a strange series of free-kicks, including one against Dany N’Guessan for trying to legitimately win a ball whilst it was being cuddled by an Orient player.
Orient eventually and predictably took the lead, a simple goal which again highlighted our defensive frailties. A straight forward diagonal ball freed up a roaming Kevin Lisbie. Once the ball was under control the striker pulled the back to a totally unmarked Dean Cox, who under no pressure at all curled a wicked delivery to the back stick where it was met sweetly by a diving Yaser Kasim, who steered it past the helpless Foderingham. Moses Odubajo claimed the goal, but from my vantage point it definitely looked like the Iraqi who got the final touch.
Half time finally came and if I thought the end of the first half was the stuff of nightmares, then the entertainment served up during the break was the stuff of horrific, sweat drenched acid trips. I mean, a human-sized robin sporting a Day-Glo T-shirt juggling huge inflatable dice in front of a fritzing advertising board. I checked my coffee for hallucinogens.
The obvious change came at the break with Pritchard, who was more anonymous than a sex-fantasy letter in Razzle, made way for Mohamed El Gabas.
Town allowed us all of sixty seconds of blind optimism before capitulating miserably. A series of really weak headers courtesy of Messrs’ Darren Ward and Grant Hall allowed Odubajo to turn sharply in the box and unleash a vicious strike. Unfortunately for him his effort was only going to trouble the paintwork of the ACE scaffolding advertising board, so in stepped Ward to finish with aplomb.
Great, I thought at least we now have a new great pub quiz question, “in which game did Swindon score three times but lose 3-1”.
Town pressed trying to get back in the game, with N’Guessan dragging a shot wide and Ajose lashing over from twenty yards following some more excellent work from McEverley. For all of Swindon’s effort and industry we simply didn’t look like scoring, whereas Orient looked likely to score with every attack. Town’s efforts were largely hampered by the incompetence of Chris Sarginson, who seemed hell-bent on turning the game into bad-tempered affair by giving a series of baffling infringements. In his pre-match blurb Sam Morshead mentioned that Sarginson’s one wish in life was to join England’s cricket supporting ‘Barmy Army’, it kind of makes sense now.
His actions were definitely creating a poisonous atmosphere in the ground, with most home fans getting more and more frustrated about Swindon inability to work Jamie Jones in the Orient goal, so a ‘fan’ in the Town End decided to take matters into his own hands.
The lively El Gabas twisted and squirmed into the box and went down a tad theatrically under the weight of a few Orient boots, the ref refused the pleading screams of the Town faithful and a minor dust up occurred. Meanwhile a brain-dead interloper slipped by the minimum wagers in fluorescent coats and squared up to Jones, maybe landing one punch.
Bad, bad stuff, but considering what goes on all around us in the world, children dying every second, civil wars orphaning indiscriminately, poverty and famine etc – so let’s not get too Daily Mail about this incident.
The Football League Show praised Jones for his restraint, he is indeed to be applauded, but seriously I would have loved it if he’d just flattened the intruder with one amazing punch Ivan Drago style, then nonchalantly wiped his glove on his shorts and carried on the with game.
I know, I know not the right thing to say, but there you go, anyway back to the game which in truth, like a pensioner’s sex drive, was just fizzling out. We had a couple of half chances courtesy of N’Guessan but that was that. Oh, and my man of the match McEveley got sent off right at the end, which summed it all up really.
Obviously it most definitely wasn’t ‘that was that’ in the social media world, as sadly that evening the apocalypse descended on us all again. The sheer amount of hate and bile which is typed into cyberspace due to a second home defeat (to the division leaders) at the end of November is truly astonishing.
I read a handful of tweets and turned off; I glimpsed a couple of Adver comments and then closed my browser. The despair I feel is extraordinary, not at the performance, not at our hapless backline but by our fans sometime to the reaction to such a defeat.
I didn’t access social media at all today, I built Moon Base Beta 1 Command Centre out of Lego with my son and felt a lot better for it – I recommend it to all guerrilla keyboard warriors out there, it does calm you the f#@k down.
Supporting Swindon is like building stuff out of Lego, the central premise still hasn’t changed for god knows how many years, all the pieces are basically the same. You build different things all the time, with the same raw materials, sometimes it’s good, sometimes not, but it always stays the same – even if you build something truly spectacular it still gets broken up and dismantled.
Consistency would really help Swindon at the moment, we’ve not had the luxury of that in heaven knows how many years. Orient had eight players on show that featured in the match day squad in last year’s encounter; Swindon on the other hand had three, and only one in the starting line-up.
So c’mon, chin up and start building your own Moon Base Beta 1 Command Centre, it does help.
The original 80’s packaging<
My (and son’s) effort – yeah, screw you! I didn’t have all the pieces; the set is almost thirty years old for Christssake!