February, an up and down month where being a Leyton Orient fan literally puts you through the ringer. Keep on building under Edinburgh was the key and how far can we go in the FA Trophy?
First up a trip to Dover Athletic in the third round of the FA Trophy. Apparently It won’t be that interesting this one, well that was probably what most of us thought when the draw was announced. And how wrong were we. George Elokobi put the O’s ahead in the first half from a corner before the O’s highlighted their superiority just after the break. Macauley Bonne curled the O’s 2-0 ahead with a wonder strike before Matt Harrold struck home just minutes later. How many can we get? This could be any number?
Well, this is Orient and we never do anything easy. 3-0 up and cruising, then Orient do what they do best, crumble. Ryan Bird pulled a goal back before Orient should have buried Dover out of sight, Bonne twice should have netted but Dover responded. As the game hit last the ten minutes, Mitch Pinnock lobbed Brill after a mix up between Coulson and Brill. Then just minutes later, Ryan Bird equalised leaving the away end shell shocked and baffled to how their side have thrown it away. Then, the moment we had all been waiting for, 1533 days to be exact. A David Mooney chip actually coming off, the first since 23rd November 2013 (Swindon away). In the 4th minute of stoppage time Mooney’s delicate chip sent the away end in to raptures.
Safe to say, it is never dull being an Orient fan.
Away from the excitement of the trophy, Tranmere Rovers travelled to Brisbane Road. Much less excitement in this one with Orient create a few chances going forward but James Norwood should have put Rovers ahead but poked wide. Orient were holding their own until what was still their Achilles heel, a corner kick, no marking and a free header from Ritchie Sutton put Rovers ahead just before half time.
Elokobi was far from his best in this one, and Norwood should have doubled their advantage after he robbed the O’s center back but blazed over. Then a stroke of luck for Orient, Caprice’s low cross fell to Holman who stabbed towards goal, the ball cannoned off a Rovers player and nestled in the goal. Brill had to be in top form to preserve a point, twice making brilliant stops from Cook to keep Orient ticking over.
Next up a trip to AFC Fylde, one of my favourite grounds of the season. Newly built, well presented, smart, a club on the rise. Unbeaten at home since early October, could Orient end that run, indeed they could and it should have been more than just the one. Holman’s and Bonne’s link up was good all game with the former brought down for a penalty which Bonne duly dispatched.
Second half, I still am puzzled to how Orient did not make it two, three and four. Squandering chance after chance after chance, we will be made to pay for them and we nearly were. A stunning block in the dying minutes, ensured Orient of three points and a precious clean sheet.
A midweek, overnighter up North in Chester was next on the agenda. A club who had their money problems, something Orient knew all too well after last season’s campaign. In a turgid game where chances were few and far between Orient grabbed all three points when James Brophy’s shouldered home in the second half. Somehow Bonne couldn’t make it two when he skied over when inches from the goal. Who cares. Two 1-0 away wins on the bounce, a long while since that happened.
Last up Gateshead at home in the quarter final of the FA Trophy, we all know what happened in the last round. Josh Koroma curled Orient ahead with a glorious strike before the break and the O’s looked comfortable. In a game where it was streamed all round the world, they were presented with LOFC goal of the season when Ebou Adams thundered home from 30 yards to make it 2-0. Josh Coulson glanced Orient into that “comfortable 3-0 lead again”.
Then the game changer, Danny Johnson gave Gateshead home turning home with 22 minutes to go before Ebou Adams left the pitch with an injury. A blow which saw Orient sit deeper and deeper, a mix up at the back leaving Coulson on his heels saw Johnson nip in and make it 3-2 with 12 minutes to go. It wasn’t going to happen again was it? To right and every Orient fan knew the inevitable was coming. We have supported the O’s long enough to know that it was just what minute was the equaliser coming.
The 90th minutes was the answer when Richard Peniket glanced home the leveller to give the Orient fans a lovely, trip North to Gateshead on a Tuesday night. Cheers lads..
Normally pundits and ex professionals state 2-0 is the most dangerous score line in football. After February’s shenanigans being an Orient fan 3-0 is just as dangerous. A replay in the trophy coming in March but Orient should have sitting comfortably in the Semi’s. The question was how much would this set back affect them?