A Bleak Future

Match report by ALAN ESSEX at Brisbane Road

Leyton Orient 2 Pools 1 (League 2) Monday April 17th 2017

Where do I start? I have been to many games at Leyton Orient and have written about the area so much so that there isn’t much left to say. All I can add to my past scribblings is that the local council have extended their residents' parking scheme far and wide with the result I parked 1½ miles away in Leytonstone, who don’t seem to have such a scheme.

So, after a brisk walk I found myself at the Brisbane Road ground. I’m sorry but that’s what it is to me - it’s not ‘The Matchroom Stadium’, the same as The Vic is not ‘The Northern Gas and Power Stadium’. I arrived just as the teams kicked off; I usually like arriving early to lap up the atmosphere and see the warm-up for signs of who’s up for the game and who is not. Not on this occasion though.

With Orient needing a win to maintain the most outside chance of escaping relegation and Pools needing a win to improve their chances of avoiding the drop, I thought a nervy boring 0-0 was on the cards. Orient had gone 7 games without a win, losing 6 of those. Pools had gone 5 games without a win, in fact since I last saw them beat Cambridge United.

Pools lined up with Magnay in for the injured Richardson, and Deverdics replacing Woods, who was on the bench. Orient started brightly with a couple of early attacks with shots on target but easily held by Fryer. However, it was Pools who scored first in the 8th minute when Oates, holding off several defenders, shot across the O’s keeper Sergeant. This followed a good run by Amond and a lucky deflection off a defender before finding Oates.

A sign of the times?
Now Orient have had problems with their owners since Barry Hearn sold the club (although I believe he still owns the ground) and the players have not been paid until recently. As a result youngsters have been drafted into the team and today they had 7 teenagers in their starting line-up.

Pools mounted another attack soon after which came to nothing and that was about it as far as Pools were concerned. Ten minutes after Oates has scored Orient equalised. Orient attacked down their right and without any defensive intervention Adeboyejo, an 18-year-old, beat Fryer from close range from the cross. All the while Sandro Emanuel Gonçalves dos Reis Pires Semedo, playing as a left-wing back, was torturing Pools at every opportunity. He was a class apart and made Thomas look very ordinary in comparison.

Orient now gained confidence and they began to attack frequently. One such attack brought a very good save from Fryer with Walker blocking the follow up. Orient had a couple of corners in quick succession and from one of these Abrahams struck a glorious shot into the top right corner of Fryers goal. Again, poor defending leading to a goal.

Pools did have a couple of efforts but they were no trouble for Orient. One from Thomas was straight at their keeper. At half time Woods replaced Deverdics, who had not been in the game. Woods added some urgency and aggression to the side but despite a fair bit of possession in the middle of the pitch there were no near chances to get back into the game. Thomas had no joy in beating his marker and resorted to crossing the ball into the box with limited success. One cross was just missed by Oates who really should have headed in, and Amond behind him, who should have at least made contact with the ball once Oates had missed it.

"Generally, the team looked bereft of ideas"
Jones brought on Rodney for Amond much to the disbelief of most of the Pools supporters, replacing our top scorer with a player who has not scored at senior level. Needless to say Rodney did nothing of note and looked out of his depth. Rooney came on shortly afterwards replacing Featherstone. Rooney was a willing runner but never looked like scoring or setting up a telling pass.

One of the best ways to get sent off was displayed by Donnelly who was not having a very good game. He argued with the referee about a decision and then squared up to the referee resulting in his red card.

Generally, the team looked bereft of ideas, neat passing triangles were attempted but only with 2 players, and by the time a third player found space the opposition had got the ball. On several occasions, Alessandra trapped the ball and spun to change direction, but his marker quickly cottoned on to this and stopped any progress. Harrison and Walker, despite doing their best are probably not up to standard at this level, at least not on this showing. Alas another poor display.

Man of the Match – I’ll pass from a Hartlepool point of view – there wasn’t anyone. For Orient Sandro Emanuel Gonçalves dos Reis Pires Semedo stood out for me with Adeboyejo a close runner-up. Considering their form, problems with the owners and playing so many youngsters, Orient did extremely well. Maybe they consider themselves already relegated and played without pressure. Pools on the other hand looked apprehensive, unsure what system they should be playing and of course unconfident. Many realise that their future is away from Hartlepool next season and maybe away from full time football.

Leyton Orient fans celebrate the win and continue their match-long protest against the club owner
I remember when Ken Hopscotch was approaching the time to leave Pools he said ‘be careful what you wish for’. A veiled threat or an insight into the future? Who knows – but the future is looking bleak with many supporters expecting relegation and not just relegation but fears for the club itself. Apparently burdened with debt, a January ‘fire sale’, rumoured property development, lack of clarity about ownership, managers contract – well that’s enough to be getting on with for the moment. For those not in the Hartlepool United Supporters Trust it may be an opportune time to join. If a supporters trust is good enough for Barcelona ...