Keeping The Wolves From The Door
In his blog exclusively for VitalOrient Paul Mellows reflects on his and the O's trip to the Molineux.
OK, it was my idea... '' anyone fancy going up to Wolves on the 29th?' After almost a five hour journey including petrol, coffee, two toilet breaks and an ''oh no I forgot my glasses'' delay, at 2.52pm we finally got to our seats in the Steve Bull Lower Tier at Molineux. The ground was a heaving sea of gold and black, and as a lowly Os fan the last time I saw so many people in a football ground was the FA Cup tie versus Chelsea in 1972 at Brisbane Road (you all remember that Phil Hoadley goal surely?).
Soon I was beginning to regret my suggestion to travel this far for a football match. Wolves were out of the starting blocks like a ball from a Phil Hoadley boot and the injury-struck Orient team looked bemused and bedazzled in the throng of 28,598 Wolves fans - actually that's not an accurate stat, Os brought over 2,000 (I brought four myself). It didn't take long for Wolves defender Ethan Ebanks-Landell to show who was boss with a sharply taken chance from just outside the Orient penalty area, and after just five minutes the Os were behind. It could and should have been more but with a combination of poor finishing, doughty defending and a spattering of luck Orient were still only one down as they jogged into the tunnel for their slices of orange and a quick rub down with the Orientear.
Romain Vincelot was substituted at half time with a knee injury which (having already been booked) at least meant he couldn't get sent off.
With Sawyer at the back, frankly we looked calmer. Matty Baudry and a fantastic 110% Nathan Clarke were eventually able to get some sort of grip in defence and the Os fans began to think we may only lose four or five-nil.
And then completely out to the blue, Lloyd James took one of his quick free kicks that turned into a slick Orient move finished at the back post by a seriously out-of-position Baudry. My reaction time when the Os fans stood up in anticipation was similar to that of the Wolves defence and I only saw the goal on the Football League Show. (All that way and I miss the goal. We had to look on Twitter to find out who scored - praise be to the digital revolution.)
From then on Wolves, obviously rocked by being level with Os despite having had so many chances, looked more and more shaky. And as we got behind our team Os actually began to look dangerous. It could have gone either way in the end with Wolves still looking like they would score despite Orient's 19-year-old second-choice goalkeeper Jake Larkins gaining confidence with every angle closed and every missed chance.
The final whistle seemed to come as a relief to both teams, but probably more so to Brentford who, with a win at MK Dons, went clear at the top of League One.
After another five hours (this time only interrupted by a rather pleasant and well-earned Birmingham Balti) myself and my travelling companions were home. Just in time to see the Os goal on TV..
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