The table never lies, a cliche always used in football but after 46 games Leyton Orient got what they deserved… relegation. Going into yesterday’s match at Swindon, the O’s knew that only a win and three results going in their favour would preserve their league 1 status. However, just like the previous 45, the East London faithful were given a glimmer of hope before the inevitable happened… relegation to the fourth tier after 9 years away.
In a season of turmoil, 4 managers in the first 5 months of the season says it all but off field problems continued on the pitch. After expectation for the first time in many years, what unfolded in the 46 games of the season was a surprise. The inability to beat 10 men was once again the case yesterday with Tyron Belford sent off after 20 minutes for bringing down Lloyd James. James missed the resulting penalty but Swindon who made 9 changes looked far from the side that dominated Orient in E10 earlier in the season.
That faint glimmer of hope was given with Dean Cox giving Orient the lead 5 minutes before the break with at that point Orient safe. But it was never going to be that easy despite Chris Dagnall putting Orient 2-0 up minutes after the restart. Another collapse followed. With results going against Orient, Anton Rogers clever free kick halved the deficit before Andy Williams levelled from the spot to condemn the O’s to life in League 2.
Swindon, who had the play offs at the fore front of their minds made 9 changes whilst Orient made 2: Josh Wright replaced Shaun Batt while Luke O’Neil came in for Scott Cuthbert. A 4-3-3 system or was it a 4-5-1 or 4-1-4-1 formation I don’t think many people knew but Orient started brightly looking for a goal from the off.
The O’s knew that they had to their job to get the win and see what happens elsewhere. Jay Simpson shot straight at Belford when played in before Lloyd James drilled wide for the away side. The Robins known for their free flowing passing were far from that highlighting the 9 changes made, Orient continued to press with opportunities beginning presenting but Josh Wright’s break forward saw his effort scuff wide.
Swindon first chance came when on loan Chelsea midfielder John Swift broke down the left to the byline and cross to Andy Williams but Alex Ciask saved well down to his right. The visitors were handed a lifeline after just 20 minutes, poor passing in central midfield saw Wright play in James, the former Southampton midfielder nicked the ball around Belford with the keeper bringing him down. No option for the referee and Belford was given his marching orders.
James saw his penalty saved as Orient season unfolded in their 46th game of the campaign. With the home side down to 10 and Orient lacking confidence, the O’s struggled to go forward with the large away following getting frustrated. Results were going their way at this stage but Liverani’s men were struggling to create chances. Jay Simpson looked lively on the right while Dean Cox and Marvin Bartley appeared up for the fight.
Chris Dagnall continued as always working hard in attack but saw his swiveled effort fly over the bar as Orient searched for the opener. But 5 minutes before half time, pressure from Orient saw another mistake with Cox nipping in and slotting home giving Orient the lead. Swindon only forced Ciask into one more save with Swift’s shot saved down to his right.
That glimmer of hope talked about pre match was there but all Orient fans knew that it would not end this way. Dagnall did put Orient 2-0 ahead after Simpson broke through the center, his shot fell to Dagnall who curled home for his first goal in 11 matches. However, news filtered through of Crawley’s opener and Notts County’s goal but the away side had to finish the job.
Dean Cox clipped the bar after being put through by Chris Dagnall in what could be his last game in a Orient shirt. With the numerical disadvantage Swindon appeared to grow in the game but Orient should have finished them off after Josh Wright clipped the post.
One of the major problems for the O’s this season has been the ability to defend free kicks, after Mathieu Baudry gave a silly foul away. A clever free kick routine saw Anton Rogers flick up the ball and volley beyond Ciask to halve the deficit. With Orient seemingly throwing away another game against 10 men, Swindon pushed for the equalizer. The travelling away contingent searched for good news in the other matches but news wasn’t going their way.
The Robins continued on the front foot with Andy Williams dazzling Matheiu Baudry down the left but his cross shot creeped just wide of the far post. Orient’s fight appeared to have diminished but Will Randell drilled wide after Andy Williams set up the 18 year old. Then somehow Orient escaped as Jack Bartham broke down the right, his whipped cross fell to John Swift 6 yards out and only the Chelsea youngster knows how he blazed over.
As Colchester took the lead against Preston, Orient crumbled for the upteenth time this season. Sam Ricketts broke into the penalty area on the left side, Luke O’Neil caught the on loan Wolves man, with the referee having no option but to point to the spot. Andy Williams stepped up and slotted home condemning Orient to relegation. Nathan Clarke went close in the final stages but as the Orient fans chanting “Orient till I Die”, it appeared that they were the only ones up for the fight for the season.
Orient relegated to the fourth tier after a 9 year stint away following promotion in 2006. But relegation was self inflicted throughout the club, the chairman’s inability to appoint a manager with any English league experience, too many backroom changes and poor summer signings costing the O’s. Yes the turmoil has not helped the players but just think of how many players have under performed… There are not many who haven’t, it says it all really that on loan Alex Ciask won the performance award for the season having only joined in February.
“The president should be the most disappointed man at the club” were words uttered by Liverani (via the translator) Well four words that spring to mind What about the Fans? Supporting through thick and thin, Orient is in the blood, engrained on the brain and will remain in my life forever but sometime you do think about why? Well @les_bristow is to blame, well one of the best decisions he made in life. You take the ups with the downs but it is amazing how much a club’s togetherness has changed in 12 months. I don’t know where to start but Orient needs freshening up on the pitch but 4 points from the last 21 available says it all for a team that never believed they could be relegated until the whistle blew yesterday afternoon.
Former O’s skipper John Mackie and chief executive Matt Porter were in the away end yesterday and summed up Orient on twitter:
Porter: Dear oh dear. No words to describe what a waste of a perfectly good football club and a completely avoidable situation this is. Devastated.
Despite the disappointment of this season, all Orient fans know that they will be there in pre-season and at the start of the season for the opening game, I mean who wouldn’t want an away trip to Newport on a Tuesday night. Orient is a way of life for some fans but what would you do without Orient? The summer will be a long one but come August we will all be there.