Leyton Orient 3 Exeter City 0: Misery personified

Monday, 30 August 2010

There are no words. Well, there are, but mostly they consist of adjectives such as poor, abject, rubbish, shocking and many more that can't possibly be reprinted here.

It's taken me a good day and a half to calm down enough to write a more measured analysis of the match. At 5pm on Saturday the only sensible option was to get drunk. On Sunday, the anger and hangover was too great. Now, after sleeping on it twice, we're ready for measured analysis.

We. Were. Fucking. Terrible.

What, you want more? You want to know that Exeter were clueless for the first 45 minutes, looked for all the world if they'd only just met and then conspired to give a lesson in how not to defend for Orient's second two goals? You really want to wallow in that misery? If you insist.

Exeter haven't won on the road for over nine months now and from the opening minute we never remotely looked likely to breaking this unwanted run.

With no Matt Taylor or Richard Duffy, we played a 4-4-2 with full back Billy Jones at centre-half and four central midfielders across the middle. We were, quite simply, ripped a new one.

Orient came at Exeter from the off and Paul Jones nearly fumbled a shot into his net soon after. Wave after wave of O's attacks burst forward and Exeter could offer, well... nothing. There was the occasional foray into the Orient half but we failed to get a shot on target.

Meanwhile, Rob Edwards made a hooked goal line clearance and Jones just managed to push a shot onto the post. When even Ryan Harley had to resort to hoofing the ball out of defence, you know that Exeter's neat passing game just wasn't getting going.

What was most depressing was the middle of the park. James Dunne, David Noble, Liam Sercombe and Harley are all fine midfielders but all were trying to occupy the same ground in the centre of the pitch. Consequently, we had no width and no link between midfield and attack and Orient found it easy to pick holes through the centre of the park.

Nonetheless, Exeter very nearly made it to half time level, which would have been a travesty to football but encouraging for us travelling Grecians. After all, there was no way we could have been as bad in the second half.

Orient, though, finally made the breakthrough when a simple cross from the left saw Alex Revell given a free header and leaving Paul Jones with no chance to see Exeter head into the break one down.

Half time and Tisdale took action, pushing Sercombe out to the right wing and bringing on Richard Logan for Jamie Cureton, who I'd completely forgotten was on the pitch. The improvement wasn't immediate but it was there.

With Logan, we had a striker with a bit of height and physical presence so the balls weren't immediately getting pinged back to our half and for about 15 minutes, Exeter put a half decent spell together without hugely troubling Orient.

Ryan Harley had the best opportunity after being slipped through but Terrell Forbes produced a good block to deny the ginger wizard. Our other chance of note was Sercombe's effort after a mazy run but his decent effort hit Logan on the arse on its way towards goal. This just about summed up our afternoon.

The second and third goals, which were no less than Orient deserved, were horror shows of our own making, with the second in particular likely to have me waking up in a cold sweat for a good six months.

The home side launched a speculative punt upfield, but rather than clear the ball, Dunne and Edwards decided to walk into each other, leaving Scott McGleish with an easy run on goal. A new low had been reached.

Dean Cox's third for Orient was an impressive strike, but Troy Archibald-Henville, making his first sub appearance since injuring his knee in January, afforded the diminutive frontman too much time and space and you could see the goal flying in the moment Cox skipped away from his marker.

It really is a struggle to pick out any highlights other than the final whistle. It was nice to see Troy kick a football again after so many months out. And, er, that was it. This really was like watching EastEnders most miserable moments while listening to Tindersticks in the background.

In mitigation, Stanno's funeral was midweek, so this may have still been affecting the team. But for all that still leaves a very heavy burden on us all, the side has to pick itself up and start winning matches.

It is a very long time since I've seen an Exeter performance that bad. Hopefully it was just a blip, a one-off, and will serve as a wake-up call. Because, although we're only three games into the season, if we play like that every week, we will get relegated.

HAL Man Of The Match: Tempted to say no-one, as we were that poor. If pushed, either Richard Logan, who made a bit of a difference after his introduction, or Scott Goldbourne, who was one of the few Exeter players to show any attacking intent, even if the movement around him so so poor he often had to hit it 30 yards back up the pitch to find a player.

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Happy As Larry

This is an Exeter City fan blog by Gary Andrews, covering news, views and action from the real St. James' Park.

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