Statistics really can prove anything!

Stats can be misleading, and they can be very informative – they can be manipulated by twisted minds to lead us to false conclusions; just like watching the football it’s not always immediately apparent what a particular player is or isn’t bringing to the game. These thoughts were triggered by this very interesting observation made by somebody on the LTLF forum:

“Here’s some interesting stats.

Six games up to Millwall home – 5 wins, 1 draw
Six games since then – 2 wins, 1 draw, 3 losses.

Neil Harris started the first six games but not the last six. Despite criticism from the majority of fans, including myself, do the facts speak for themselves???”

Hmm, perhaps they do! Whilst I was reasonably vocal in criticising those who gave Neil Harris abuse by booing or writing ill-educated diatribe about him, I too must confess to rapidly losing patience with him on the pitch. I don’t think that whether Harris does or doesn’t play has really been the decisive factor in our change of recent fortunes, but well, it makes you think, doesn’t it?

I think we missed Perch in midfield yesterday too; I know he appeared as a sub, but out on the left isn’t really his best position – and Gary Holt, his replacement, was frustrating, to say the least!!

Leyton drive Forest Orient-al…

Nottingham Forest – 1
Leyton Orient – 3

It’s not exactly the result we were hoping for in our last game at the City Ground this side of Christmas, but even the biggest Forest sympathiser (ie. me!) would find it difficult to say that Orient weren’t good value for their victory over us yesterday.  The majority of my frustration comes from Forest’s ineptness for much of the game, although Orient too deserve credit for clearly doing their homework on Forests’ tactics and players and how best to exploit them.

The referee, too, should get a mention – one chap unkindly referred to him as “Beadle” for most of the game, but it was his withered mind rather than his arm that was irritating.  He failed to get a grip on the early throws of the game which saw the Orient players take lumps out of Nathan Tyson and Kris Commons, this lead to Tyson getting frustrated and picking up the first booking of the game, and Commons head dropping for most of the game – clearly some research had gone into that – and to be fair, Tys and Commons are as responsible for their reaction as the referee was to his shitness.

As the game wore on it became apparent that the referee, Mr Hill, was just a bit shit rather than biased – he gave very questionable decisions both ways and generally proved to have very little control over the game, incapable of playing an advantage or dealing with the cynical fouls or timewasting latterly from the away side (understandable really, they’ve not won away yet this season, I’m not surprised to see them waste a bit of time really!).

The Orient fans – 1,000 or so of them – were predictable, “You’re not fay-mous anymooowah!” rang from the cheeky cocker-neys, but well, having seen the popular factual documentary ‘Eastenders’ I’m aware of the daily issues these folks face, so perhaps they deserve to have an enjoyable afternoon – they certainly appeared to do so, particularly when Guttridge opened the scoring after around 25 minutes.  Most of Orients attack went down the left via ex-Stag Wayne Corden, it was he who found Guttridge on the edge of the box – and fair play to him, it was a bloody great finish.

Southall had a long range effort shortly after, but it always looked like going over to me, Commons also had chances – but was in a frustrating “shoot from anywhere” mood – I’m surprised he didn’t start taking the goalkicks to have a periodic shot at goal from there too.  Super Wes probably provided the Forest highlight of the match with a run down the right flank and into the area past several players with a combination of skill, luck and brute force – unfortunately the pass at the end of it was rather poor – but it still raised a cheer and a smile!

Orient were two goals up just before half time, and to say our defending was a calamity was rather an understatement.  The londoners broke forward quickly, Walker strolled past Gary Holt down the left and pulled the ball back from Chambers who the Forest defence stood and pointed at the expanse of goal he should go for, which is just what he did – it seemed to take a while for the players or fans to react, almost as though they couldn’t believe they were 2-0 up before half time, not only that, they deserved it too.

The best chance Forest had came in stoppage time – Nathan Tyson fired a vicious cross in from the left, Grant Holt looked a dead cert to score as he thundered it goalward from point blank range, but somehow Glyn Garner had got from the near post across the goal to block the ball – a completely amazing save.  This brought half time, there were boos, and whilst I don’t like the practice, they were deserved – Forest were lacklustre and very disappointing.  At half time Curtis was withdrawn for Junior Agogo.

Orient were still able to boot our players around the park at will with little or no intervention from the referee, but Agogo was having an impact and starting to push Forest into more of a dominant position.  One of numerous fouls by Guttridge was finally punished, the freekick on the left edge of the area was put in my Southall and headed in expertly by Ian Breckin to give us some kind of hope of getting something from the game.  The home fans came alive at this point, and the Landaners below us were surprisingly quiet given that they were still winning.

After the goal Forest had a 5-10 minute spell of utter dominance, with numerous corners and pressure on the Orient goal, but in fairness to the southerners, they defended stoutly and threw themselves infront of anything and everything – backed up by a great performance from their goalkeeper who must’ve been up there in nominations for man of the match, he was brilliant both at stopping and also dealing with crosses confidently.

Unfortunately the pressure and possession was to peter out allowing Orient again to break, again down the left – Walker released Wayne Corden who lost Morgan and put a tremendous shot into the top right corner to the delirium of the Orient fans below who once again found their irritating cocker-ney voices.  Forest fans swarmed out of the ground now, and Forest on the pitch basically just hoofed it around without much endeavour – indeed, Orient could’ve had four as Smith was just able to palm a late Alexander effort out for a corner.  Breckin had a chance of a second very similar to his first – frankly, it was too little too late anyway.

A deserved win for Orient, and a shockingly poor home showing from Forest – and the referee.  I don’t like to blame the referee for the result, that would be unfair – but he contributed.  I would say that Forest need to have a plan B however, because if a referee won’t protect key players Commons and Tyson, then we’re fucked – because this referee didn’t, and we suffered.  Orient also exploited the three-at-the-back by pushing attacks down the channels – particularly down the left where the none-too-defensive Southall plays.  In short, they had us well sussed.

I often harp on about it, but I’m not at all convinced by the three centreback system – Cullip and Breckin seem to be in the throws of a power struggle, and I’m never sure who Cullip is marking – frequently it’s nobody – which is why there’s always a midfielder free on the edge of our box, because Brecks and Morgan pick up the two strikers.  Cullip more often than not is just stood between them either clearing up the crumbs as required, or just barking orders to the other two – yesterday was the worst game I’ve seen from him so far.

I really wish Colin would pick two central defenders and get a back four together – to do this he really needs to buy a decent left back in January.  He only plays two strikers anyway, so he can then put Commons in left midfield and Southall on the right, without his defensive duties.  This would leave us much less exposed out wide, and more natural balance to our side – particularly given that the vast majority of teams line up in 442 formations.  We also really need to address why we’re so poor at home compared to away performances.

All in all, not very happy at all with that.  Apologies for the late report, but I can’t imagine anyone being in a hurry to re-live any element of the game anyway!  Smoulds has a challenge on his hands to pick us up from this, and from the comments I’ve read so far from him, it seems he’s sticking to his repertoire from previous poor results – as for the “almost worked too hard” comment, I didn’t see much evidence of that from my seat, Colin.

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