Leyton Orient 2
McGleish 4, Cox 13
by CHARLIE HEMPSTEAD
A GAME that was nearly 4 months in the making, having first been scheduled on December 18th, proved not to be worth the wait for the Green Army, who were seeing their team in action for the first time in 17 days.
Early goals from Scott McGleish and Dean Cox, who was a perpetual thorn in the side of the Argyle defence, put the Pilgrims firmly on the back foot. Despite the best efforts of Yala Bolasie in particular, there was no way back.
Had the game taken place at more or less any point in the intervening period, Leyton Orient would have been huge favourites. However, having gone largely unbeaten throughout that time, the O's had stuttered in recent weeks and couldn't buy a win. Argyle, who can't buy anything at all, know the feeling.
Argyle showed two changes from their last run-out at home to Rochdale, one enforced, one not.Injury put paid to Chris Clark's participation, with his place going to Rory Patterson, but the change of goalkeeper was a managerial choice that was not entirely expected.
Four games after losing his place to Romain Larrieu, David Button found himself back in favour on the evening when his parent club, Tottenham, were playing in slightly more glamorous surroundings (a fact that no doubt contributed to the modest attendance).
The bench consisted of the only three available full professionals on the books, plus the youthful trio of Luke Young, Jed Harper-Penman and Jake Baker.
For the home side, Andrew Whing and Adam Chambers came into the side that lost 3-1 at Charlton on Saturday at the expense of Terry Forbes and Tommy Carroll, both of whom dropped to the bench.
No sooner had the strains of London Calling died away on the tannoy than Orient took the lead. Dean Cox's long cross from the left was nodded back across goal by Jimmy Smith, and the arch-poacher Scott McGleish rose well to head in the 201st goal of his career.
Argyle attempted to make amends immediately, forcing two corners in quick succession, from the second of which Rory Patterson failed to get any purchase on his header when handily placed on the edge of the six-yard box.
In the ninth minute, Argyle threatened again, with Curtis Nelson advancing purposefully out of defence and feeding Yala Bolasie, whose 20-yard shot stung the fingers of Jamie Jones in the home goal.
Moments later, Argyle showed that they had not learned their lesson, when Cox was allowed to cross from the identical position from which the goal had come. This time, though, Smith wasted a golden opportunity to double the lead by placing his header tamely wide of the target.
The reprieve was short-lived. From a position of no apparent danger, Alex Revell suddenly found himself in the clear on the right-hand side of midfield, advanced to the edge of the area and squared to Dean Cox. The winger, in splendid isolation inside the Argyle area, had no difficulty in slotting past the hopelessly undone Button.
Worse very nearly followed almost instantly, after the referee awarded an indirect free-kick inside the Argyle box when Button picked up a back-pass, but the defence held out - just.
The question at this stage was whether to describe the Pilgrims' display as chaotic or shambolic. Woeful would have done as well.
Briefly, it appeared that a more positive adjective could be applied, as Joe Mason burst forward. Although his progress was halted, the ball broke kindly for Rory Fallon, who tried his luck, a la Barnsley last year, but this time his effort drifted wide.
With a quarter of the match gone, Peter Reid made the tactical switch to swap his full-backs, who thus adopted the traditional sides occupied by numbers 2 and 3, with Karl Duguid moved across to right-back to try to nullify the threat of Cox.
As the match entered something of a lull, news filtered through that Dagenham, Notts County and Tranmere were also trailing by the same 2-0 scoreline. All that was needed was a miraculous recovery from the Greens (actually the All Whites tonight, although in truth it was more a question of Pretend Madrid than Real Madrid).
If such an unlikely outcome was to be forthcoming, it would be in no small measure due to the astonishing support of the irrepressible Green Army, whose passion for the cause remained undiminished by the events unfolding in front of their eyes.
The most likely conduit for a fightback on the pitch was looking like Bolasie. As ever, his play was a frustrating mix of the brilliant, the unpredictable and the wayward, but he was certainly not giving Whing an easy time.
Eventually, the O's full-back had to resort to a deliberate handball, resulting in a yellow card. From the ensuing free-kick, Bolasie and Anton Peterlin cleverly worked an opening, but the former's drive was deflected for a corner.
Bolasie himself picked up a yellow card shortly afterwards, attempting to emulate Karate Chris Clark with a high challenge that thankfully did not receive the ultimate sanction from Mr Naylor.
The home side continued to pose plenty of threat of their own, but one attack ended when Revell collapsed unchallenged and had to be carried off on a stretcher, to be replaced by Jonathan Tehoue.
As half-time approached, Bolasie's trickery again bamboozled Whing and his killer ball to the near post needed the merest of touches from Mason, which the youngster was unable to supply. As the ball was played back in, Charlie Daniels' clearance hit Karl Duguid flush in the face, the rebound clearing the crossbar by a matter of inches.
More thrusts from Argyle, spearheaded every time by the indefatigable Bolasie, gave hope for something better in the second half, but it was not to be.
Despite the visitors opening the second half very brightly, it was the hosts who carved out the first real opportunity. A neat ball clipped over the top allowed Stephen Dawson to charge into the area, but he fell under challenge from Stéphane Zubar in the act of shooting and the chance went begging.
The home skipper's fervent appeals for a penalty, supported by a good number of East Londoners, went unheeded.
Orient were finding it much easier to find space when they attacked than Argyle. From a wicked cross delivered by the overlapping Daniels, Nelson came perilously close to getting a touch that would surely have turned the ball into his own net.
Yet when the Pilgrims next threatened, space was nowhere to be found and the attack ended with a hopeful twenty yarder from Carl Fletcher sailing harmlessly into the home support. As if to prove the point, Orient promptly went to the other end of the pitch and worked an opening for Whing to deliver a cross which tested Button to the full.
With a quarter of the match to go, Simon Walton finally stepped onto the field after his long-term injury, and within seconds had won a free-kick in a dangerous position. Although the initial ball was repelled, it was then spread wide by Peterlin to Bolasie, whose far-post delivery hung invitingly for Rory Fallon, but Jones was equal to the Kiwi's downward header.
Walton's next contribution was to upend Cox with an ill-advised lunge, for which he was rightly booked.
Other than a brief debut appearance for Jed Harper-Penman in the number 10 shirt specifically reserved for players with a double-barrelled name, that was pretty much it.
Which can probably now be said for the rest of the season.
Leyton Orient (4-5-1): 1 Jamie Jones; 2 Elliott Omozusi,3 Andrew Whing, 30 Adam Barrett, 13 Charlie Daniels; 11 Alex Revell (18 Jonathan Tehoue 40), 20 Jimmy Smith, 10 Adam Chambers, 8 Stephen Dawson (capt), 7 Dean Cox; 9 Scott McGleish (29 Harry Kane 85).
Substitutes (not used): 6 Terry Forbes, 12 Lee Butcher (gk), 17 Jason Crowe, 25 Tommy Carroll, 27 Paul-Jose M'Poku.
Booked: Whing 33
Argyle (4-4-2): 31 David Button; 3 Bondz N'Gala, 35 Curtis Nelson, 36 Stéphane Zubar, 2 Karl Duguid; 8 Rory Patterson (28 Simon Walton 69), 4 Carl Fletcher (capt), 21 Anton Peterlin, 19 Yala Bolasie; 16 Joe Mason (10 Jed Harper-Penman 83), 14 Rory Fallon.
Substitutes (not used): 1 Romain Larrieu,17 Jake Baker, 23 Krisztián Timár, 34 Luke Young.
Booked: Button 15, Bolasie 36, Walton 77
Referee: Michael Naylor.
Attendance: 3,255 (449 away).