To make a donation to the Bobby Moore Fund for Cancer Research Click Here >>>
Review - Game Ten: Leyton Orient 1-1 Exeter City
A gloriously sunny day awaited me in East London, as did struggling Leyton Orient who would be taking on newly promoted Exeter City. The Matchroom Stadium is a curious concoction, an office block which houses all the club administration and corporate facilities looms over the ground like a gravestone. At its base rows of seats house the main grandstand, but these look like an afterthought rather than a coherent attempt at making a football stadium. In each corner of the ground there are a block of flats, this land was owned by the club but sold to a development company who have cleverly marketed them for Orient fans. The balconies of two sides give great views of the pitch and at least you could buy your significant other a present with the money saved on a season ticket!
I picked a seat in the Tommy Johnson South Stand and waited for kick off. The first half was a busy affair, both Exeter and Orient were passing the ball fairly crisply and attempting to make inroads on either flank which made for some good end to end football. Orient had the better chances and a multitude of crosses and corners seemed destined to be powered in off attackers heads but the City goal lead a charmed life with each attack barely whistling over the crossbar. Around four or five of these chances were missed before Orient received a large slice of luck for the opening goal. A silly challenge allowed Orient a free kick a few yards outside the area, the ball was prodded to number 13, Charlie Daniels, whose drive was not powerful but took a huge deflection off a defender to leave Exeter keeper Oscar Jansson no chance as the ball tamely made it to the back of the net.
Orient`s fans and the team didn`t care, they have had some rough games so far at home with no wins to their name and the crowd really got behind the team, trying to make their dominance count. If anything Exeter had performed better in midfield but a lack of cutting edge up front meant that Orient had nothing to fear. They continued to work openings and Jason Demetriou on the left wing was easily the best player, despite the fact he had a tendency to go to ground a little too easily, a fact not lost upon a jeering and very vocal Exeter support.
With the first half finishing 1-0 many around me seemed confident that a repeat performance would see them deservedly take all three points. It was a surprise therefore to see a totally different Orient turn out in the second half. God knows what manager Geraint Williams told them but it backfired almost immediately, Orient looked nervous and a shadow of their first half selves. City, in contrast, played like they were three in front, their own left winger Craig Noone tearing apart right back Andrew Cave-Brown with ease. Noone has only just joined on loan from neighbours Plymouth Argyle and he looks to have been a great signing at this level.
Despite being pressured from the off and playing like a school team Orient almost doubled their lead when Scott McGleish fizzed a 25 yard screamer towards Jansson who managed to get a finger to the ball, pushed it onto the underside of the bar where it bounced off the line to be cleared. A few minutes later Demetriou galloped into the City area only for Jansson to come out and collect the ball, sending him flying. The Orient fans were baying for a penalty and in all honesty I just couldn`t tell, the ref didn`t give it and Orient were left to rue their missed opportunities in the first half.
This season M25 football seems to be a magnet for lucky unintended cross/goals. After one for QPR and one for Bromley it was Exeter City`s turn. Noone again stormed down the wing and attempted to whip in a cross, however the ball went looping over the keeper who desperately back-peddled but was unable to keep the ball out of the net. In fairness it had been coming and the Orient fans gave out a collective cry of frustration before laying into the keeper and the team in general. With ten minutes left Orient attempted to push forward looking for a winner but their precision passing had been left in the changing room at half time and the Exeter defence were comfortably able to mop up the long balls coming their way.
The final whistle was greeted with audible boo`s towards the Leyton team who seem bereft of confidence at the moment but in all honesty just aren`t good enough in defence to keep out pace. Both teams should survive in the league but I think it will be Exeter fans who have the longer nails come May.
Build Up - Bonus Game A: QPR v Crystal Palace
QPR were founded in 1882 but became QPR in 1886 when two local teams formed, St. Judes and Christchurch Rangers. Due to most players living in the Queens Park area of London this became their moniker.
QPR turned proffessional in 1889 and are known as The R`s or the Supahoops. They hold the league record of having had the most home grounds, currently at 20. Although Loftus Road, the current home, has been used the most, off and on since 1917.
Always the smaller club in West London to their hated rivals Chelsea, QPR also have rivalries with local teams Fulham and Brentford, and also with Watford, Luton and recently Reading.
Despite being a small family club, QPR are known for playing good, attractive football. With star players including Rodney Marsh, Stan Bowles, Roy Wegerle and Gerry Francis. They have also honed the skills of many great players such as Les Ferdinand, Trevor Sinclair, David Seamen, Phil Parkes and Daniel Nardiello(!!). Most people agree that the 1975/76 side were the greatest side never to win the First Division. Losing out to Liverpool after they beat Wolves with barely 20 minutes to go.
Recently they have been taken over by a number of multi-billionaires however this has done little to alleviate problematic relations between fans and boardroom and as yet has not yielded a much awaited return to the Premiership, of which they were co-founders.
Division One Runners-up 1975-76
Division Two Champions 1982-83
Division Two Runners-up 1967-68, 1972-73
Nationwide Division Two Runners-up 2003-04
Division Three Champions 1966-67
Division Three (South) Champions 1947-48
FA Cup Runners-up 1981-82
League Cup Winners 1966-67
League Cup Runners-up 1985-86
FA Community Shield Runners-up 1907-08, 1911-12
How to get there;
Tubes, H`smith & City line; Shepherds Bush, Wood Lane.
Central line; Shepherds Bush, White City.
Bus; 220 from H`smith Broadway towards Willesden Junction.
Overground train; Clapham Junction platform 2 to Shepherds Bush.