Saturday, January 28, 2006

And then there were 16...

"We've matched Fulham and Charlton in terms of passing the ball and creating chances and that's very pleasing. We had chances to win it, so we're frustrated to say the least." Martin Ling.

The phone ins have been full of Orient fans praising their team for a 'superb performance'. The reporters at the ground claimed that we were 'pushed all the way', and a couple of Orient callers even accused Charlton fans of being disrespectful towards them..

I think I must have been watching a different game from everybody else. I don't remember all of the chances Ling was talking about. Other than the 5 minute spell they had before the break where they hit the bar and had a shot roll just wide, I don't think they ever put us under any really consistent pressure.

Our own performance was disjointed, and lacking a bit of passion, so to a neutral viewer it may have made Orient look like a better side than they actually were, but I certainly never felt in any danger of losing the game.
Fair enough, they are a league two side, so we should have disposed of them a lot more fluently and professionally than we did; but cup football is about getting through to the next round, and that is exactly what we have done.

An early goal was just what we needed in order to calm any nerves and to quieten the away support, so when we got the goal it was frustrating to watch us slipping back down through the gears as the half wore onwards. Kishishev and Hughes were the biggest culprits in allowing Orient even a foothold back into the game. Neither of them could have passed the Salt today, let alone the football.

No surprise then, that one of the biggest cheers of the afternoon was when Curbishley made a triple substitution and removed both of them from the fray, along with the consistently ineffective Bartlett.

Thomas was a breath of fresh air when he came on I thought. I may be biased though because I've always preferred my football to be played down the wings rather than through the middle, but he was consistently beating his man and swinging balls across that we should have made a lot more of than we actually did.

The last 20 minutes were all just backs-to-the-wall stuff from our opponents. They rarely got out of their half, and when they did it was only an aimless punt back to our defenders which allowed us to build another attack. I thought that a winning goal was inevitable, but didn't expect it to come as late as it did. Still, the 90th minute is as valid a time to score as any other minute, and overall I think we deserved to go through.

It wasn't a good performance, but it certainly wasn't the worst we have played against lower division opposition in the last few years.

The draw for the next round is on Monday. Colchester will do nicely.


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