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U's 2 - 0 Orient . Noah's View 11:37 - Jan 25 with 634 viewsnoah4x4

Whilst taking our normal pre-match refreshment most of us agreed; fixture at home; biggest crowd of the season; three debutants of uncertain repute; a former U’s striker in opposition; this had all the hall marks of ‘Banana Skin’ and hence potential disappointment written over it; yet it proved to be one of the best U’s performances in recent memory.

Before the 14th minute, debutant Chris Porter had headed the ball more times in attacking positions than Freddie Sears had in three years, and his third nod was skilfully directed to Gavin Massey’s feet that needed no second invitation to slot it into the net sending the nervous U’s fans into delirium. I reckon Porter adds a new dimension to the U’s game not seen since Jabo Ibhere vanished off the scene. But what impressed me most was how he repeatedly got into the opposition box ready to receive a ball be it supplied in a low or high trajectory. We no longer need to ‘walk the ball into the net’ with this guy leading the line. Albeit that we don’t want to see “route one” it was bliss to see the ball moved more quickly forward allowing the undoubted pace of our front three to offer a threat. Although Porter didn’t net, it did take an awesome tackle from former U Nathan Clarke to prevent this.

My man of the match was (yet again) Kaspers Gorkss. In tandem with Tom Eastman the giant Latvian was again solid in defence and full backs Clohessy and Briggs also put in competent performances. How wonderful to see a fine headed goal from a corner too. Let’s hope that Kaspers can be persuaded to stay at WHCS. He says he plays for the love of the sport, so maybe there is some hope of that. Debutant Briggs, along with Hewitt also adds something extra down our flanks. These two newcomers (both on loan) are also players that can win aerial balls and hence also make opposition howitzer lobs and their thrown-ins less effective. This frees up Porter to do his main job, and get into the middle where he can be a nuisance. For far too long (IMHO) we have employed short centre forwards that offer zero aerial threat or taller ones that spend too much time near the touchline instead of getting into the opponents 18 yard area. This combination on the flanks does help resolve that; albeit that team selection next week will be interesting given that Hewitt (justly) saw a red card for a rash tackle. I would now like to see Dion Sember-Ferris after Tom Lapslie’s outstanding debut. Just as I have been predicting for weeks, these U21 heroes can cut the mustard.

However, there was some inevitable surprise when fan’s favourite George Moncur was left on the bench and Tom Lapslie given his debut. But let’s give Tony Humes some tactical credit. Sammie Szmodics has quickly won the hearts and minds of all U’s fans by his impressive running and his Rottweiler closing down plus total commitment and effort. Tom Lapslie is another off the same U’s Academy conveyor belt. Orient danger men Cox, Mooney and Dagnell were hence chased around the park by our dynamic duo that performed like hounds chasing after scared rabbits whilst the away team’s own terrier Roman Vincelot was limited to helping his own forwards often vain attempt to retain the ball rather than ever troubling ours. Clohessy & Hewitt and Briggs & Massey also looked pretty secure down the flanks, although Shaun had the odd moment of lapse where the tricky Cox gave him the slip. Alex Wynter was perhaps unlucky to be on the bench after his stunning debut at Posh, then slightly less competent home debut versus Walsall. However, Matthew Briggs (IMHO) does look the more accomplished left back despite the negative comments of some fans at the New Den. At this Division One level he looked sure footed and confident.

Orient tactics tend to depend on breaking up opposition attacks and then pump wide balls to the flanks that are moved quickly back onto the path of Mooney (& Co). The U’s own midfield disruption tactics (Szmodics and Lapslie) trumped them at their own game. Despite the BBC reporting seven Orient shots on goal I only recall one that mildly troubled Sam Walker. The rest were powder puff lobs into his arms. This slightly more defensive midfield line up did inevitably blunt the U’s attack to some extent and hence we were limited to five shots and three on target, the number assisted by a speculative effort by George Moncur after his introduction on 84 minutes after Szmodics legs showed their first signs of fatigue. But after the first quarter, I don’t think most fans even noticed the absent of Sears, Watt and Moncur, but getting the ball into the net early does make a world of difference. We also hit our opponents straight after the HT break. How often have U’s hearts been broken in similar circumstances; but to be fair to Orient, they kept going, albeit ineffective.

The U’s are a team in transition; evidenced by the number of debuts that have already occurred in 2015. But we are getting to a stage where a blend of experience (Fox, Porter; Gorkss) enhanced by youth (the rest) can pay dividends. Those that travelled to Yeovil; Crawley and Posh will agree; but home fans need to be patient before they see ‘back to back’ victories. It will be tough at Bradford next week; and many Premiership clubs can now testify that Division One/Two should be respected. A point in a boring 0-0 draw at the Coral Windows Stadium will suit me, despite our early departure time of 08:30. But Crewe beware; the U’s are back. Let’s hope the faithful will now return to WHCS after a deserved victory. I think it will be worth it just to see Chris Porter.
[Post edited 25 Jan 2015 12:58]
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U's 2 - 0 Orient . Noah's View on 14:01 - Jan 25 with 594 viewsburnsieespana

Thanks for that noah. I think from a distance that, Tony Humes and the Management have had a pretty good week all in all.
A point at Bradford would be good but maybe they are there for the taking after yesterday as often happens that way although Parky does seem to have assembled a decent aquad.
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U's 2 - 0 Orient . Noah's View on 16:11 - Jan 25 with 579 viewsBarsidepete

Great piece, Noah. Thank you:)

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U's 2 - 0 Orient . Noah's View on 20:41 - Jan 25 with 550 viewsRSCOSWORTH

Wynter and Healey were both absent from the squad due to illness and personally I didn't think that Briggs looked all that good apart from first fifteen minutes.

I always enjoy reading your reports and the majority of what you post on here but I do find it slightly disappointing that you're continuing to moan / have a go at Sears, especially as he's now left the club.

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U's 2 - 0 Orient . Noah's View on 21:32 - Jan 25 with 537 viewsbwildered

Jury still out regards Briggs, did not look a improvement on those we already acquired.Tom Lapslie looked busy and neat, Sam Szmodics will become the next fans favourite because of his commitment and work rate, but goals need to become regular requirement of both their games in future for the team to progress.
Still wondering how we walking away with three points from this encounter, so hope it is not a false dawn has difficult fixtures loom which will be hard to gather consistency .
Hope my cautionous does not distract from a welcome home win, but one swallow does not make a summer, although we can wallow in the victory for a few days .

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U's 2 - 0 Orient . Noah's View on 09:56 - Jan 26 with 512 viewsnoah4x4

Interesting to have a different perspective of Briggs. ....

If you mean that he wasn't as effective as some of our other full backs when in attack then I might agree. But it is not so long ago that many fans were calling for the return of a no-nonsence 'John White' type that can defend (and doesn't want to be a winger). What particularly impressed me was the percentage of defensive headers that he won and the distance that he got. Being four inches taller than either Clohessy or Gordon must assist. He also (IMHO) seemed a tad more robust, but one admits, was less focussed on attack. Note that Alex Wynter is similar in stature also being over 6 foot tall.

As regards Sears, mention of him was merely intended as a similar point of comparison. I am sure that Freddie will do well at Ipswich where 6' 3" Daryl Murphy will compensate for his own lack of aerial threat and where Freddie's sharp feet can feed off the Irishman's head. But I never saw much point in him leading our line against typical 6' + Division One defenders without the support of a taller man. How many more goals might he have scored if paired with (say) Iwelumo?

Chris Porter is an entirely different player; far taller and that adds a new aerial dimension to the U's threat even when we do have only 'one up'. He won much aerial ball on saturday and his delicate nod down gave Massey his strike. In any of two dozen previous games the brilliant work by Shaun Clohessy to find space and then put a superb CROSS into the box would have resulted in zero threat. Terrific players they all might be (including Sears), but until Porter arrived all of our forwards were of modest height (compared to a majority of the Premier League's top strikers). They had to 'walk the ball into the net'. Perhaps surprisingly, even Macauley Bonne needs bigger platform boots than were worn by Elton John to stretch to six foot.

I have long felt that one of our reoccuring problems is that too many (admittedly skilful) small men were being played in the wrong roles (and vice versa). This meant a limited aerial threat, and also a vulnerability to the high ball in defence (e.g. if only two U's outfield players are over 6' + that risk must be inevitable). Even when Joe Dunne was favouring 6' 2" Jabo Iberhe, the big striker appeared compelled to spend too much time on the flanks or defending set peices to compensate for a lack of height elsewhere (e.g. to defend corners/throw ins etc).

Admittedly Szmodics/Lapslie are far from being tall (both 5' 6") and in that respect are similar to Lionel Messi (even Kem Izzett was two inches taller than both). But their low centre of gravity adds benefits. However, we can only select these two human dynamos to terrorise the ankles of opposition midfield/attackers if we have enough height elsewhere.

The main thrust of 'Noah's View' was hence about how player height (not tactics or skills which we have long had in abundance) will make a huge difference to future results.

Finally, when did we previously last score a headed goal; and particularly one from a corner? It may be called "football", but the first and thereafter 15% of all Premier League goals are scored by a header. Top scorer Alan Shearer netted 283 times in 559 league appearances including 46 times with his head. Goals scored by defenders have an even higher ratio. But we can probably count the number of U's headed goals scored at WHCS on the fingers of one hand. When/what were the last five headed goals scored by a U's forward? Strangely, tiny Sammie Szmodics hit the net twice in December with headers (both disallowed). He will add to his goal tally, but he isn't superman. It would be interesting to see his OPTA type statistics compared to (say) Sanchez Watt. My guess is he runs double the distance; triple the number of tackles etc. That is one area where Mick McCarthy will get the best from Sears, as he won't tolerate a poor work rate and soon dispensed with Wordsworth.
[Post edited 26 Jan 2015 10:04]
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U's 2 - 0 Orient . Noah's View on 19:14 - Jan 26 with 473 viewsbwildered

Can never judge a player on one appearance has he could equally have the best or worst of matches .Quite a difficult debut for Briggs has his marker played very wide, so also had to hope to have back up from another. Did well several times without diving in has sometimes a tackle is not required when crowding a guy out is a better option.
Biggest concern though was reading the pass to his opponent which left him exposed several times and consequently In a uncomfortable position to defend from .
He did however win one header from a corner which fell into six yard box to be hacked away.
Early days and another week on the training ground will help familiarise to systems and club mates.

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