The Only Way Is Orient - Cosmos Match Report
In a special match report VitalOrient blogger Steven Roast gives his verdict on last night's victory against New York Cosmos.
So it was back to Brisbane Road after what seems like a long summer for a rare home pre-season friendly. Thrown into the occasion were some new opponents in the shape of New York Cosmos. All the way from across the Atlantic the recently reformed Cosmos are a reincarnation of the 70`s side that famously boasted the likes of Pele and Franz Beckenbauer. The assembled masses in Brisbane Road were eagerly anticipating seeing how much of a match they would be.
Orient lined up with a familiar starting eleven and at this stage of the campaign probably our best eleven. With the exception of the injured Dean Cox boss Russell Slade had a full strength squad at his disposal. Scott Cuthbert was moved to right back to make way for the returning captain Nathan Clarke in the middle of defence. Given the embarrassment of riches at the back Romain Vincelot moved to his more familiar and influential centre midfield position alongside Lloyd James. With Moses Odubajo and Shaun Batt on either flank the forward pairing of Kevin Lisbie and David Mooney completed the O`s line up.
A minutes silence to remember the recent passing of O`s legend Phil Woosnam who also had links to the American MLS was respectfully observed.
With a new home kit and newly laid Brisbane Road turf also on display Orient carved out the first early chance when Lisbie header over the bar just 5 minutes in. Looking alert from the off, last season`s top scorer fashioned himself another chance minutes later when he dinked a shot again just over the bar. The O`s were asserting themselves well in the early stages and the energetic Batt fired over the Cosmos goal from range.
It wasn`t long before the O`s were deservedly in front. Much confusion in the Cosmos box following a James corner and Mooney goal bound effort appeared to be cleared by a Cosmos defender straight to Lisbie who smashed home. It was Mooney however who could celebrate as the referee adjudged his initial effort to have crossed the line.
Most of the slick Cosmos play was orchestrated through the former Spanish international Marco Senna in the middle of the park. Cosmos finally fashioned a chance their neat build up play merited on the half hour when Ayoze struck from distance forcing Jones to tip over. The O`s stopper alert to the danger despite having little to do up to this point.
It was the O`s though who almost struck next to double their lead when a delightful Lisbie through ball put Odubajo in the clear only for the O`s man to be denied by the Cosmos stopper Jimmy Maurer at his near post. As with Senna for Cosmos the O`s attacking threat was spear headed by the tireless and hard-working Lisbie.
Eight minutes before the break the O`s rode their luck as Cosmos came close to drawing level. A corner from the right flank was met by the head of Alessandro Noselli before coming crashing back off the woodwork. A couple more blocks in the six yard box and Orient cleared the ball away from danger.
Half time came with the O`s just edging it as the score line suggested but Cosmos were beginning to show they had a goal in them. To keep the crowd entertained there were no cheerleaders, fireworks or singers like our American friends are accustomed to just a game of good old fashioned cross bar challenge!
Orient came out for the second half and began to assert their authority on proceedings once more. Lisbie and Mooney combined superbly only for the Irishman to see his goal bound effort tipped wide.
He didn`t have to wait long to see his side extend their lead as a corner into the Cosmos box drew a foul on Mathieu Baudry which was spotted by the referee and he awarded a penalty to Orient. Up stepped Lisbie to smash the ball past the keeper with no signs of a man who had failed his previous three attempts from 12 yards.
Orient grew in confidence with the two goal cushion and five minutes later James sent over a powerful curling free kick destined for the top corner before Maurer`s glove intervened.
The start of a number of second half subs saw Harry Lee and Elliot Omozusi replace Cuthbert and James. It was a like for like change with Lee lining up to partner Vincelot in midfield and Omozusi slotting in at his familiar right back slot.
However Cosmos wouldn`t lay down as the impressive Senna fired a free kick straight at Jones with 19 minutes to go. Just three minutes later Cosmos attacked again and Omozusi produced a goal saving challenge when tracking back only for the ball to fall to Ayoze who this time beat Jones with a long range strike. The O`s stopper will be disappointed to be beaten on this occasion as Ayoze`s routine effort went straight through his hands. A nervous 16 minutes approached for the O`s to hold on to their lead.
Former youth team stars Vanderhyde and Georgiou were introduced to the action along with trialist Adda Djaziri but there was little time for them to make any impact. As the match petered out in the closing stages the full time whistle brought cheers from the vast majority of the 2,004 O`s fans to celebrate a unique victory. Cosmos remained professional to the end as they applauded the crowd before leaving the pitch.
Verdict: So a win for the O`s and some impressive displays by Vincelot, Batt and especially Lisbie. Disappointing the way we nearly let the lead slip and not to see Sheratt or Lasimant in action but Slade will consider this a worthwhile exercise. The starting eleven looks strong with Cox still to come back in but the squad itself probably needs another two or three additions. Will also be interesting to see how the defence shapes up with three strong centre backs in contention. All in all we should be in for an intriguing nine months.
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