Vital reader Burslem Boy takes a look back at Vale’s defeat to Leyton Orient…
Micky Adams went with the same line up as Saturday, except for Grimmer being replaced by Yates. (Some clubs have loanees who are the fulcrum of their team. Ours flit in and out.) Vale started with positive intent, but there was a desperate lack of quality. Orient defended well from the front and gave our defenders little time on the ball. The response was to hit the ball long and high and often. The ball never seemed to be on the ground for the first half hour. Pope and Williamson strove hard but ineffectually to make a meal from the crumbs they were given. Orient looked completely comfortable, without offering much of a threat.
Dean Cox was the one player in the first half who looked capable of rising above the mediocrity and it was fitting that he opened the scoring. I always worry when the clock gets to five minutes before half time. We seem to concede lots of goals during this period. Cox struck a cut back from Odubajo well, but Neal should have done better. The ball more or less went over his head before hitting the underside of the bar and going in. Neal has had well-earned plaudits recently, but last night was not one of his best. I presume that his choice as Man of the Match was someone`s idea of a joke. He was much more culpable with the second goal. This was a Vale classic. A bog standard corner was met by the totally unmarked Clarke, who headed the ball into the ground. It bounced up and Neal fumbled it into the net. This put us back where we have been so many times this season, practically out of the game against a team that has done absolutely nothing out of the ordinary to get its lead.
Cue substitutions. Knott and Lines replaced Birchall and Griffith. Myrie-Williams moved from the left wing to the right and Loft moved to the left wing from the middle. Knott transformed the game. Knott has something. He may lack conditioning, but he is nippy and comfortable on the ball. He wants the ball all the time and doesn`t mind getting it when he is marked. And he can pick a pass.
Suddenly, Orient`s big lump central defenders looked uncomfortable. Vale created and spurned chance after chance. Two goals were disallowed. The first one was for offside. Someone who sits behind the goal is in no position to comment on this. I have no idea why the second one was disallowed. If it was because Clarke was lying prone in the box, where he had been for some time, then the decision was a disgrace. I presume Pope pointed this out to the referee and was booked for his pains. I hate players being booked for dissent, but this time I am with you Tom. I fear I may have chinned the ref had I been on the field.
In the end Orient were beholden to their goalie for keeping them in the game. I must say I did take something of a dislike to Jakupovic. He was so full of himself I expected him to burst. He also seemed like a sensitive soul, who reacted badly to some standard barracking for his persistent time wasting. I knew he was on loan from Hull City and rather naively presumed that he must be some young up and coming chap who Hull wanted to get more experience. But he isn`t. He`s thirty later this year. He is a Bosnian, but has Swiss citizenship. I presume his Swiss passport allows him to work in Britain, even though the sensible Swiss are not in the EU. He has played for both Bosnia and Switzerland at Under-21 level, but turned down an opportunity to play for Bosnia at full international level. He has played a full friendly international for Switzerland, but now refuses to play for Switzerland ‘for family reasons`. In other words, a complete mercenary with no real allegiance to anyone, club or country. God, I really despise people like this.
Orient were a well drilled team with quite a lot of pace, but they are not at all scary. It is difficult to understand why they have done as well as they have. I would not include them in the top five teams I`ve seen in League 1 this season. It looks like Wolves are going to walk the division. If Orient grab the second automatic promotion spot Brentford need to ask themselves some serious questions.