Oh joyous happy day! All is right with the world as the sun beats down, the birds twitter their late summer songs in the trees, and Orient’s problems are finally over! What’s that? We’re still in the doo doo, and didn’t really deserve the three points? No matter, I’m keeping the Pessimistic Kid in a secret back garden complex in California (well, until Tuesday at least).
That said, much as I’d love to describe the win as a free-flowing and dominant performance, it was actually a low-quality match between two limited-looking sides. Still, seeing as Orient have managed to lose or draw every one of those this season, it was nice to see them actually grabbing the spoils for once – substitute Andros Townsend’s strike enough to decide this tense derby encounter.
The first half was something of a non-event, with Millwall starting the stronger without actually creating anything. The South Londoners had brought a large following over the river, and they were typically loud and boisterous during the opening few minutes, but thereafter were largely subdued as Orient’s solid defensive performance blunted their side (it was that, or someone had spread a rumour that TK Maxx had folded and they were all in mourning).
Orient had the first real attempt of the match, as Jason Demetriou carried the ball well down the left flank, but, having cut inside, could not strike the ball cleanly enough to beat portly keeper David Forde. Shortly afterwards, James Scowcroft could – perhaps should – have put the home team ahead after lumbering after a hoof over the top and stabbing the ball wide of the near post from around eight yards. Whilst he should have done far better with the chance, the big forward was having his best game to date in an Orient shirt; his physical presence causing the Millwall rearguard some awkward moments.
At the other end, Ben Chorley was dominating the aerial battle wih Steve Morison and Tamika Mkandawire again showed signs of coming into form. There was early nervousness in the full back areas, though, and had Millwall’s final ball been slightly better, they may have actually tested Jamie Jones. As it was, the young keeper dealt with every cross and set piece chucked in his direction, and didn’t have a serious save to make all game. Vaguly close headed efforts from Mkandawire and Morison rounded up the drab first half fayre.
The second half began much as the first had done, with Millwall having the better of the play and territory without ever doing anything with the ball. Orient were largely second to every loose ball and losing 50-50s in wide areas. The usual problems of having no-one in midfield prepared to take a touch in the absence of Thornton seemed to seep into everyone’s play – including loan signing Luke Summerfield who had had an impressive first half. However, the game was to change ten minutes into the second period.
Jason Demetriou sustained a badly cut eye and, although he would have been able to continue after a patch-up job, manager Geraint Williams chose to replace him immediately. Within a minute the move had paid off, as on loan Spurs youngster Townsend smashed the ball home after hesitancy in the ‘Wall defence. It was an excellent strike which gave Forde no chance, and the winger almost added a second ten minutes later. His mazy dribble from the halfway line ended with a fierce 25-yard drive which Forde did well to tip over the bar.
In truth, that was the last real effort of the game, as Orient dropped deep and defended well, whilst Millwall failed to make anything of their possession. In particular, record goalscorer-cum-mugworth Neil Harris was getting increasingly hacked off with his teammates’ inability to give him the ball, and got into a couple of tangles with Jones and the referee. Oh well.
Gary Alexander made his return from injury as a late substitute and got a good mix of applause and jeers from the home crowd. He won a fair few headers, and had one decent effort from outside the box, but it flew straight to Jones. At the end of the game there was palpable relief in the stands (well, three of them), and, as Rockin’ All Over The World blared out from the tannoy for the first time this season, a couple of seats landed on the hallowed turf. Well, you know you’ve done well if the Bermondsey muppet squad are hacked off enough to start damaging the ground. Huzzah! More please, Orient.
Jamie Jones 7
Didn’t have a save worthy of the name to make all game, but his kicking was generally good and his handling on crosses exceptional. The odd communication failure with his back four, which is something to work on.
Andrew Cave-Brown 6
Had a shaky first half, and didn’t get close enough to Chris Hackett at times. Made some poor headers too, but came back better after the break and contributed to Orient’s first clean sheet of the season.
Charlie Daniels 7
His best game for some time, though the performance wasn’t without the usual lapses in concentration. Didn’t see much of him in the attacking third.
Ben Chorley 9
The ultimate immovable object. Outmuscled and out-thought all of Millwall’s forwards. A colossus at the back for Orient, and, it must be said, a fabulous signing by George.
Tamika Mkandawire 7
Slowly, agonisingly, getting back to a semblence of form. Still lacking the composure of seasons past, but his reading of the game has returned, and the costly mistakes eradicated.
Luke Summerfield 7
Neat, tidy, two good feet, takes set pieces, can pick a pass, gets stuck in, reads the game. What’s not to like? If he can keep that level of performance up, there will be much clamouring for a longer spell.
JJ Melligan 5
Worked as hard as ever, to little effect as ever. Dutiful in defence though, and covered the inexperienced Cave-Brown well. Again failed to have any impact further up the field, mind.
Jimmy Smith 5
Another one who did his job in defence, but made no impression in the other half of the pitch. Invaluably good in the air, but seems to lack confidence on the ball – he never takes a touch, and always looks to play the ball first time.
James Scowcroft 6
Missed the one decent chance he had, but had a reasonable game; holding the ball up well and knocking the Millwall centre backs around a bit. Still not fit, so the 90 minutes will have done him good, even if he was shattered after 70.
Ryan Jarvis 5
Did an awful lot of hard yards chasing lost causes, but wasn’t given much of the ball, nor much protection by the referee. Needs to play closer to Scowcroft in future.
Jason Demetriou 6
Had an ok game, but drifted in and out of it. His slight awkwardness on the left was shown on occasionas when he could have crossed with his left, but chose to cut back and lost the opportunity. Injury didn’t seem serious.
Andros Townsend 8
Yet again came on and changed Orient’s atacking display for the better. Good goal, good runs and worked hard in defence when required to. Must start, especially at home on our super-wide pitch.
Scott McGleish 5
Came on for Ryan Jarvis, but saw little of the ball. Made no impact on proceedings.