Two shades of Norwegian Blue

Cod Almighty | Match Report

by Tony Butcher

5 January 2022

The game barely deserves a report, but here's a brief one anyway. There was more effort expended in that sentence than put in by some players at Brisbane Rd.

Clear, warm evening with a massive crowd of 1,036. About 150 Town supporters who would have won the best-dressed supporters award, over half were wearing suits and ties. Sartorial elegance from the faithful, and nice to see so many sensible ties.

Town team: Coyne, Butterfield, D Smith, R Smith, Groves, Donovan, Coldicott, Pouton, Black, Lester, Ashcroft. Subs were Croudson, Allen, A Buckley, Clare and Burnett. Town played in the away kit, the aforementioned two shades of blue.

1st Half
For the first 20 minutes it was like an exhibition match, with Town having seven "efforts" on goal. The Orient defence was easily ripped apart and, predictably, Town managed to miss the target. Ashcroft hit over from 10 yards, Black wide from 20 yards, Black hit a loose ball straight at a defender on the line, Lester shot wide a couple of time. All these chances were created by passing and movement. After 20ish minutes (when Lester lost a challenge feebly) the ball was whacked forward, leaving an attacker a free run on goal. He took the ball wide of Coyne and, from a narrow angle, scooped the ball against the bar. The ball fell to another attacker who hit the ball against Groves' bottom from two yards. From the resulting corner Coyne punched the ball against the angle of post and bar. From that moment on Town were useless.

Orient's chances in the first half were a free kick hit wide, and in the last minute of the half another free kick which hit the post, with the rebound falling to Watts about seven yards out, who put it in. And then it was half time.

The half time announcer gave out some extremely dubious statistics for the first half, claiming Orient had seven shots, six on target; with Town having six shots and only one on target (that bit was accurate and could have been scripted before the game). We assumed that Orient had played their Joker on some of those shots, or they were counting misplaced crosses as shots on target.

2nd Half
The positive aspects of Town's second half performance were...nothing. Black hit the bar with a free kick from 20 yards in the last minute; Lester crossed across the face of goal with Black chugging after the ball; and Ashcroft was set free after a one-two with Lester (who produced a Reesian back heel) with just the keeper to beat. Ashcroft passed it two yards high and wide. Apart from those moments Town did not get into the Orient penalty area.

On the other hand Orient pressed, especially down the Town left and had seven or eight shots across goal, with Coyne having to make three or four saves. Black's defending was comically awful at times, with him attempting to hold on to an attacker but not being strong enough and being dragged along for the ride.

The ephemeral Pouton was replaced by Burnett with 15 minutes left. Unfortunately for Burnett not one Town player was bothering to move by the time he arrived, so all he could do was a Blackian piroutte and sideways pass to Coldicott. Allen came on for the atrocious Ashcroft in the last five minutes. Now Mr Ashcroft got worse as the game went on, with none of his flicks and tricks paying off. Perhaps the club shop could raise revenue by introducing a range of Ashcroft dolls - "My Little Showpony".

Lester wasn't bothered. Donovan was anonymous even by his own standards. His two most amusing contributions were a full-pace nutmeg of himself in the first half (where he completed the Chaplinesque humour by also falling over) and when he burst into the area playing a one-two with Ashcroft, who then passed it behind him to set up an Orient attack. Black was the subject of crowd sarcasm - every time he got the ball he turned round and passed it back, to huge ironic cheer/jeers of appreciation.

Orient were poorer than Carlisle, but then so was the Town players' attitude. There was almost a palpable sense of contempt from the Town players for the opposition, but then that translated into a lazy, almost incompetent performance. And that shows contempt for the supporters.