Date: 8th January 2006 at 10:21pm
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Orient rekindled the F.A.Cup memories of 1978 as they achieved their greatest result for some years at the expense of West London Premier League rivals Fulham. Goals from Craig Easton and Joe Keith gave Orient a 2-1 win at Craven Cottage in front of a travelling support in excess of 6,000.

Orient started with the same side that won at Boston last Monday with the exception of Michael Simpson who returned from suspension and took over from Daryl McMahon. The O’s settled well showing little sign of any big match nerves and any worries that Orient might have been overawed by the occasion were laid to rest as the O’s looked calm and assured in possession, passing the ball quite beautifully at times. Orient found themselves afforded a lot of the ball but were grateful for the linesman’s flag on ten minutes when Radzinski was put through and finished past Garner.

That offside gave the O’s a warning and just 7 minutes later the travelling fans were going absolutely crazy when Craig Easton shot home from the edge of the box following good work down the left from Keith. Fulham’s defence which could be described as rather poor to be polite, failed to deal with the cross from Keith and Easton smashed home past Warner.

Buoyed by the goal Orient grew in confidence and stature with Easton and Simpson bossing the middle of the park and Keith proving a threat down the left hand side. Fulham were finding it hard to break Orient down though Legwinski hit the corner of the bar rather fortuitously through a miscued cross.

Orient were in charge and with their travelling army in full support they were never going to give up without a fight. Alexander and Ibehre were giving the Cottager’s defence all types of problems as Fulham failed to mount a shot on target in the first half. With half time approaching and many fans heading to beat the queues at the food kiosks, Orient struck again.

Fulham were guilty of giving the ball away and Miller found Alexander who laid it back to Easton. Easton’s sweeping pass found Joe Keith who smashed past Warner to give Orient their 2nd goal and a place in wonderland. It really was the start of a fairy tale as the side from League Two deservedly went in at the break 2-0 ahead.

Orient played superbly in the first half with Fulham failing to hit one shot on target. John Mackie marshalled the defence superbly and the central midfield pairing of Simpson and Easton looked assured and in control.

Fulham came out with new hope in the second half as they sought to cut the deficit. Indeed they were buoyed by a goal just 4 minutes after the restart as Collins John got ahead of Zakuani and finished past Garner. Yet, those that thought this goal would lead to a Fulham fightback were mistaken as the goal seemed to kick Orient into action.

With Orient attacking the Putney End which housed their fans, the O’s continued to create chances notably from Shane Tudor who saw his shot parried by Warner and Craig Easton was inches away from connecting with a ball played across the box.

Orient were enjoying a fair amount of pressure but were caught on 69 minutes when Boa Morte ran into the box and was adjudged to have been fouled by Zakuani. It didn’t look like a penalty as it appeared that the challenge was more of a shoulder to shoulder affair, and having seen it on television it quite clearly was not a penalty. Yet, perhaps justice was served as Glyn Garner guessed the right way and saved John’s penalty which was to the ‘keeper’s left.

The roar from the away fans could have been heard back in East London as Orient continued to fight and Legwinski saw his effort turned over the bar by Garner inside the last ten minutes. With that aside Fulham didn’t really trouble Orient though Boa Morte fell over in the box, Mr Walton the referee was not interested. In fact, Daryl McMahon on as a sub for Shane Tudor almost increased the O’s advantage with a toe poked effort which sneaked just past the post.

With the injury time played which seemed to last forever and a day, Mr Walton blew his whistle to signal the end of the match and the beginning of a long celebration in the streets around E10.

Player Ratings

Glyn Garner 8
Garner didn’t have as much to do as he might have anticipated but when called upon he didn’t let anybody down. A fantastic penalty save and a moment he and I will probably never forget.

Justin Miller 8
Another assured display from Miller who played a part in the second goal. Defended bravely all afternoon and worked his socks off with all the other O’s players

Matt Lockwood 8
Locky didn’t start too well but soon found his form and provided Orient with a real menace down the left hand side. His partnership with Joe Keith will be incredibly important to Orient’s promotion push this season.

John Mackie 9
The O’s skipper was absolutely immense today, a true captain’s performance. He always puts his heart and soul into every game he plays and wears his heart on his sleeve.

Gabriel Zakuani 8
Gaby is so good that you tend to forget that he’s still a teenager. He was caught out for the goal but defended brilliantly alongside Mackie in the centre of defence. He certainly taught Fulham how to defend, that’s for sure.

Joe Keith 8
Has Joe Keith been reading www.orient.vitalfootball.co.uk?
If he has then he might have taken my criticism on board because today he was marvellous. He took his goal well but it was his all round contribution that stood out. His enthusiasm was infectious as he ran, passed and tackled for a full ninety minutes. If Keith can play like that all season then Orient will certainly benefit.

Shane Tudor 7
Tudor never really got into the game today perhaps feeling his groin injury. Even so he still managed to provide threat down the right and forced Warner into a smart save in the 2nd half. Not his best day, but he played his part.

Craig Easton 9
Easton was sensational today and perhaps proved why he is so highly regarded by Martin Ling. Easton bossed the midfield with such authority that at times you forgot which team was in the Premiership, a true testament to the midfield maestro and his team mates. He scored the first, set up the second and seemed to appear everywhere you tried to look.

Michael Simpson 9
Simmo had another outstanding game at the heart of Orient’s midfield. In tandem with Easton, Simmo helped to boss the game and leave Fulham chasing shadows. His range of passing was fabulous and his all round work rate was absolutely phenomenal.

Gary Alexander 9
He may not have scored, or even had a sniff of goal, but my word did he work hard. His work rate and strength were valuable assets in holding up the ball, winning free kicks and frightening the life out of Ian Pearce and Zat Knight. Alexander chased the Fulham defence down and played his part in Orient’s second goal.

Jabo Ibehre 9
Jabo, or ‘Yabo’ as the Fulham stadium announcer called him for some reason gave Fulham a torrid time. His pace, strength and skill proved too much for the Cottagers as they failed to handle him sufficiently. Jabo won a succession of free kicks and held the ball up beautifully hence relieving the pressure on the O’s defence. A very impressive performance indeed.

Daryl McMahon 7
McMahon replaced Tudor in the 72nd minute and almost increased Orient’s lead deep into stoppage time.

Wayne Carlisle 7
Replaced Joe Keith on 86 and managed to help Orient to hold on for a famous victory

F.A. Cup 4th Round Draw
Replaced Gary Alexander on 90 minutes. Did he touch the ball? I don’t think so but he was on the pitch when that full time whistle went!

Manager Rating
Martin Ling will be justifiably proud of his boys after a sensational performance. Orient more than deserved their victory having out performed Fulham on the pitch and in the stands where the Orient support was absolutely phenomenal. Martin has talked about the two banks of four that have served the O’s so well this season and today saw further evidence of it. He needed 11 heroes today and he got those heroes, not to mention the wonderful backing from the travelling fans. I’m sure Mr Ling will be enjoying this result and no doubt looking forward to tomorrow’s draw.

Orient are Giantkillers!
With Fulham having a few injuries and Orient in such fine form away from Brisbane Road there was always going to be a chance of an upset at Craven Cottage. Chris Coleman had warned his players and I don’t believe that he was guilty of any disrespect towards the O’s but his players just weren’t up for it. Orient were right in the game from the first to the last and will no doubt enjoy the media spotlight that they’ve thrusted themselves into.

Fantastic Fans
The Orient fans today were absolutely fantastic as they always are away from home. With over 6,000 O’s fans packed into Craven Cottage the noise was absolutely incredible. It was a proud day to be an Orient fan and the Fulham fans found themselves put to shame by the sheer enthusiasm of the travelling masses. There’s no doubt that the fans managed to push the players onto a famous victory.

F.A. Cup 4th Round Draw
The draw for the next round is tomorrow at 1.30pm on BBC 2, Sky Sports News and Radio 5 909/693. Orient are ball number 2 and the tie will be played on the weekend of Saturday 28th January. Make sure you’re tuning in for the draw. Will it be Arsenal? Maybe Man United? Perhaps it could be Chelsea? Just make sure it’s not a trip to Barnsley or Walsall!