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Crawley Town v Leyton Orient fan's view
'This team never gives up' - a slogan used by the Orient media team throughout this season. An inspiring message and a largely accurate one too.
That was however, up until yesterday's defeat at Crawley Town that saw our albeit faint automatic promotion hopes mathematically dashed in the most insipid and frankly bizarre way.
It was all very strange. Seven days after the complete performance against Gillingham, the team came out against opposition of a similar standard, yet seemed to revert back to a game which involved tentatively knocking it long up to Dave Mooney's head.
And despite the aforementioned catchy line, the team did seem to give up. With the exception of a frantic last two minutes of the match where a Mooney shot was cleared off the line (after a comical Shaun Batt air-kick), the overall performance could only have been described as limp. Both goals came from lapses in the defence that were duly punished and will continue to be so in the play-offs, with even more ruthlessness.
The manager even had the audacity to say after the match that we "pushed them all the way." I saw painfully scant evidence of that having taken place, instead witnessing the same lack of fight that has characterised Orient in the past few games - with the exception of last Saturday, which is what made yesterday so puzzling.
What happened to the free-flowing football and team goals that were so heralded all over the internet this past week? Thumping wins are meant to spur a side on, not retreat them back into their shell - Jekyll and Hyde spring to mind.
Before kick-off, it was unlikely that Brentford would choke with a seven-point lead. But we simply had to push them all the way, come out of the blocks firing on all cylinders and make the Bees sweat until the 46th and final game.
Furthermore, third place is still a must, as Peterborough are undoubtedly weaker than Preston and Rotherham. Yesterday, we were lucky that all our other play-off rivals lost. We surrendered limply, and for a team that's been so solid all season, that was difficult to watch.
Questions must be asked; why was John Lundstram, the outstanding player from the Gillingham game, rested? Lisbie I completely agree with, having said for a while that he needs to be used sporadically hereon in in order for him to be fresh for the play-offs.
Yet unless the Everton loanee cannot do two games in quick succession, to bench him in preparation for Wolves on Monday made no sense - yesterday was a winnable game and we needed our best central midfielder.
Russell Slade's preset ideas come a cropper when things do not go our own way. This is manifested in his utter inability to chase a game, or switch it up. For risk of sounding like a broken record, there was no plan B yesterday - just constant huffing and puffing with limited penetration throughout the second half once Crawley regained the lead.
Chris Dagnall was excellent again, playing off the shoulder and causing Crawley's defence all sorts of problems in the first half. It was good to see him rewarded with another morale-boosting goal.
However, why oh why was he taken off, with Mooney left to play the whole 90 minutes? Assuming Dagnall will be benched on Monday in favour of Lisbie, it made no sense to keep Mooney on, given his poor performance and his recent niggling injury problem.
Finally, another point I've mentioned previously that was evident, was Moses being completely shattered having played every minute of every game this season. He had a very poor game after a bright opening 20 minutes and was subject to some stick from my section of the terrace.
But I ask what people expect when the 20-year-old will never, ever be substituted or rested. He needs a break to be raring again for the play-offs. So why did Slade not take Moses off and put Batt on the right wing (where I think he is more effective) and then god forbid throw on Yohann Lasimant who always makes something happen in his limited game-time? Substitutes are there to be utilised, not to fill space.
As I've done with my other blogs to date, I suffix my points with the reminder of just how well we have done in a season that is far from over. Indeed, play like we all know we can and hope the manager does not throw an unnecessary spanner in the tactical works and we can beat any of the other three teams in the play-off hunt.
What hurt today, is at a time when we needed this team to truly live up to the tag of never giving up, they seemed to do just that. And that is why Leyton Orient are, and will always be the most infuriating club to support.
Keep the faith,
Up the O's.
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