Lo And Behold

It’s the first home game of the season. And as the vagaries of the fixture computer come to the fore again, as we are playing Leyton Orient, the team we played in our last home game of last season. You know the game, where the linesman hadn’t been to Specsavers and didn’t ward the goal when it was a yard over the line, and then the other one let a ten yard offside happen and so what should have been 1-1 ended up being a 2-0 defeat. We also played them in the Papa John’s Trophy at home last season, which was a 4-0 defeat.

But these are unusual home defeats, we usually have a good record against them. So much so, the Leyton Orient fan in When Saturday Comes had their surprise of last season as beating us away.

Last season Leyton Orient finished one place behind us. They started this season with a win and are fourth. We didn’t and are nineteenth.

So, speaking of the first game, it didn’t go well. From before the game started to be honest.

Our new American owners still haven’t quite got the hang of how English Football works. They had put up a YouTube video as a pregame thing. One that was full of trash talking rubbish. To be fair, our own fans were quick to complain, and after an apology tweet wasn’t enough, they took the video down. Not quickly enough to have a response video posted by Carlisle United fans. We are already getting flak as being “the internet team” without our owners compounding it.

The match stats didn’t make enjoyable reading. Crawley dominated possession. Yet with their two of their three top scorers from last season, plus new signing Dom Telford, the league’s top scorer from last season starting, and our top scorer being added to them at half time, we only had six shots all game, and none of them were on target. Perhaps it is only a coincidence that our new manager has come from the Arsenal coaching system. (BTW, Carlisle had twenty-three shots, with nine on target.)

It wasn’t great news that they’d sent Glenn Morris on loan the day before the season started. The new on loan keeper started the game but was subbed at half time. None of this bodes well.

Anyway, back to today’s game. There were doubts about me being well enough to make it, but almost thirty-six hours in bed has seen me able to make it. It is hot out there, and a slow wander to the ground follows. There are lots of people in and around the ground enjoying the sunshine. We set off early and so there was plenty of time to get there, and for me to get a programme.

Which is smaller in dimensions than the one last season, down to an A5 size. I can imagine the size of the print might be an issue for some as it is quite small on most pages. With the exception of the page with the league table on, where perhaps they were still printing to the size of last year’s programme as the table only had the top twenty clubs in the league, the bottom four missed off completely. Do they bother with proof reading this? Or are they being deliberately disrespectful to the bottom four?

There is no pre-game music, they are playing clips of old games on the big screen (which we can see a part of) and commentary through the sound system. Which makes it seem like an even better atmosphere than the good one there is in the ground anyway. There are no big canvases covering any of the East Stand or away standing this year, and there aren’t many spare seats around us when the game kicks off.

Leyton Orient are playing in a kit that I thought was a light gold and black, but after a few minutes it looks more like it is beige and black. Perhaps it is a deliberate ploy to try and lull opponents to sleep.

It may be the weather, but the game starts slowly, with some players wanting it to be over just after the quarter of an hour mark. I’m going to give the benefit of the doubt to Leyton Orient’s Theo Archibald, as to that was why he was trying to swap shirts with Tobi Omole.

A few minutes later Crawley have a breakaway and Teddy Jenks is through on goal but decides to cross instead of having a shot, it goes through to Tom Nicholls who misses the target. And that is it really in terms of notable incidents in the first half. Not even the resident drummer could be bothered to strike up.

Some things don’t change, the half time play list is the same as it ever was. Seriously, just buy some new tunes already. And following on from last year, the Crawley players come out from their half time break two minutes after the away team. It’s not big and it’s not clever, all you are doing is pissing the away team off.

There was a bright start from Crawley, a decent attack down the left wing and an early corner. Which came to nothing. And within five minutes Leyton Orient have a corner of their own after a clearance from a dubious free kick given to them. There is an initial clearance, but Tom James takes a shot when it falls to him outside the area and a big deflection wrong foots our keeper Corey Addai, and Leyton Orient lead 1-0.

The next forty-five minutes are frustrating as hell. Pass it forward five yards, pass it sideways, pass it backwards, stand with it at your feet for twenty seconds as if you’ve never seen a football before. Repeat. Occasionally run forward with it for a few yards, then pull up quickly as you’ve reached the halfway line and have suddenly developed a nosebleed. Stop. Pass it sideways or backwards. Eventually spot the good run of the striker and play the through ball. Ten seconds late and so they are offside again. FFS, speed the hell up, play the ball earlier, take a risk. Do something apart from being stood there like a lemon with a thumb up your arse.

Even the drummer can’t get into feeling it. One brief attempt after sixty minutes is all we get. There are a lot of moans and groans from the home support.

Six minutes of injury time weren’t ever going to be enough to get and equaliser. It takes until the ninety-third minute for there to be a fast-paced attack with a shot on target. Out first shot on target of the whole season so far.

The same minute also saw the Murray Goldberg in front of us shuffle off. I wonder if he will ever get to see a whole match without rushing off to avoid the rush getting out of the car park.

The crowd is announced as being 3,851, with there being 818 away fans. Over three thousand home fans is a significant improvement on our average last season, lets hope we can keep that up, and that the team improves for them.

It did seem as if the announcer had rocks in his mouth, as I have no idea who the match sponsor was, but according to his announcement, the man of the match was Tem Balokesi. Which I think, from inspection of the players listed on the programme, he meant James Balagizi.

The match stats weren’t pretty either. We matched the possession from the first game 65%, but only had three shots, but at least one on target. Tippy tappy rubbish. I’d suggest stop having the crab sandwiches as part of the pre match meal.

It was fun and games leaving the stadium as well, we got to the underpass and there was a police line separating fans from getting at each other. According to one of the fans on the forum it was because the Leyton Orient fans were mocking the Crawley fans at how bad Crawley were. I’m not sure why that should be a need to fight, it was just a true statement, that deserved ‘yeah, we know’ as a response.

For some reason the East stand had no stewards at all for the first half, I’ll assume they think we are harmless there. They managed one for the second half, but there was no sign of Al, who was missing, even though Brighton weren’t at home. Just a lookalike in the orange hi-vis and faded grey cap.

Anyway, no time to worry about the outcome of this game, we have the Carabao Cup game midweek against Bristol Rovers who got promoted last season and won 4-0 away from home today. I’m just worried that the league table in the next programme won’t include us, as we are rock bottom of it.

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