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Leyton Orient 2-1 New York Cosmos - Games without frontiers

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Brian Jeeves reporting “Back to the Future” at the Matchroom Stadium with edited match highlights from Scott Wallace.

As Leyton Orient and New York Cosmos lined up on the Brisbane Road greenery, my mind cast back to my squandered adolescence. The pitch crudely placed on our dining table with floodlights donning each corner. O’s were sporting their famous braces kit (without doubt, the best football strip of all time!) and were a man light after our cat had pounced upon Bill Roffey, causing the defender a double leg break. Despite the intervention of superglue, the injury had never properly healed thus leaving Orient at a permanent disadvantage. Cosmos wore a green, yellow and white number...Actually, it was Tampa Bay Rowdies but the colours were close enough, although I did have trouble pretending Rodney Marsh was now Pele. Anyway, I didn’t think the bumper crowd that consisted of my mum (who was peeling spuds) and dad (reading the paper), would give two hoots! This of course was Subbuteo, anything goes, and anyone can play each other, but surely, this particular match up could never happen? 

Nonetheless, I should have known better. Orient has history in the art of imaginative exhibition matches as games against Wales and French namesakes’, FC L’orient demonstrate. Two of football’s more iconic names were going head-to-head, and this time it was for real!

It might be difficult for an O’s fan to comprehend how a follower of chief rivals Southend United can feel at home here at Brisbane Road, but reminiscences of a long lost childhood can be special. I glance down from the media area at the Buckingham Road end of the ground. It was where I stood when dad first brought me here to see Second Division football all those years ago. The place has changed a great deal since we watched the likes of Laurie Cunningham, Tony Grealish and Ian Moores, for me it has lost some of its character.  Another poignant thought is that along with dad, these legends of my infancy are now plying their trade at that big stadium in the sky, an indication that life, just like football, does not stand still forever.

The Cosmos are back in business after an absence of 27 years. The remarketed brainchild of former Tottenham Hotspur vice-chairman Paul Kemsley and supported by former player Pele. Of course, these day’s they can’t boast the talent of the Brazilian legend, nor for that matter Franz Beckenbauer or Carlos Alberto who starred alongside him during the heydays of the 1970’s. However, they do possess the notable talent of Marcos Senna, who graced La Liga for eleven years with Villarreal and gained 28 international caps for Spain.  

Orient made a bright start, Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer au was forced to hack clear as David Mooney lurked, then Kevin Lisbie headed over following Lloyd James pinpoint free kick.

Cosmos slowly found their feet. Former MK Dons and Southend United man, Jemal Johnson fizzed a hat trick of chances outside the frame of the goal without troubling O’s keeper Jamie Jones too much.

Lisbie was looking sharp; firstly, he sent another headed effort over, soon after his trickery had Cosmos in a spin, unfortunately, his cross couldn’t match the fancy footwork as it eluded all comers and dropped harmlessly wide.

The teams continued to exchange blows. Johnson had Jones scrambling across his goal, while Maurer awkwardly fisted clear another James free kick, drawing a chorus of “dodgy keeper” from the Brisbane Road faithful.

Nevertheless, Orient had clearly settled the better, and after twenty-three minutes, they were in front. The Cosmos had survived a clutch of dangerous corners from James. However, when the visitors failed to clear yet another of his flag kicks; David Mooney pounced to fire in despite the desperate attempts of the beleaguered American rearguard.

The Cosmos hit back instantly. Ayoze’s turn and ferocious strike was brilliantly turned over by Jones, while during the melee from a flag kick, quite astonishingly, both Joseph Nane and Alessandro Noselli hit the O’s woodwork. In between, Maurer blocked from Moses Odubajo with his feet after Lisbie had picked him out with a quite exquisite pass.  

Just after the half time cuppa, the game had a somewhat lacklustre feel to it. The play was untidy and frustrating as passes went astray and tackles were untimely. Eventually, after some ten minutes of getting it out of their system, Orient created an opening. Lisbie found strike partner Mooney but Maurer saved his snap shot smartly.  

As the game approached the hour mark, the home side doubled their advantage. Noselli appeared to hold Mathieu Baudry and whistler Stuart Attwell had no hesitation in pointing to the penalty spot. Lisbie dispatched the kick low to his left, sending Maurer the wrong way in the process. 

Orient had the bit between their teeth. Maurer produced a brilliant save from James’s curling free kick as the Londoners threatened to pull clear, while in response, Senna of the Cosmos saw his tame place kick expertly fielded by Jones. However, with a quarter of an hour remaining, Cosmos were handed an unlikely lifeline. O’s custodian Jones had been a largely redundant figure during the second period, but when faced with his first meaningful task of the evening, he could only glance back in anguish as Sebastian Guenzatti’s speculative attempt slipped through his hands and into the net. The goal gave the visitors renewed vigour. Ayoze saw his free kick scrambled clear while Noselli headed a golden opportunity over after Hunter Freeman had galloped down the right flank to deliver.  

Cosmos late rally bore no further fruit as Orient held firm for a deserved victory. Of course, it’s difficult to predict the outcome of the season that lies ahead, but on this evidence, the Londoners look in pretty good shape.

The teams embraced and disappeared down the tunnel to warm applause from the small but content gathering of 2,004. As yet, there is no talk of a return fixture, however, if anyone’s up for it, I’ll climb up into the loft and dust off those plastic legends from days gone by. I’d imagine Shoeburyness, Leyton and the Bronx are much the same in the wacky world of Subbuteo. 

Leyton Orient: Jamie Jones; Gary Sawyer, Scott Cuthbert (Omozusi - 69), Nathan Clarke, Mathieu Baudry (Vanderhyde - 84); Moses Odubajo, Lloyd James (Lee - 69), Romain Vincelot, Shaun Batt; David Mooney (Adda Djaziri (trialist) 86), Kevin Lisbie (Georgiou - 76).

Leyton Orient substitutes: Jake Larkins (GK), Jack Sheratt, Adda Djaziri

New York Cosmos: Jimmy Maurer; Hunter Freeman, Hunter Gorskie (Veeder - 69), Carlos Mendes, Joseph Nane; Ayoze, Roversio, Marcos Senna, Diomar Diaz (Lopez - 69), Satoru Kashiwase (Noselli - 36), Jemal Johnson (Guenzatti - 54). 

New York Cosmos substitutes: Peri Marosevic, Chad Calderone, Danny Szetela, Dane Murphy, Stefan Dimitrov, Chris Reed, David Diosa, Juan Gonzalez, Kyle Reynish, Hagop Chirishian, Paulo Mendes

Cinematographer Scott Wallace captured the Leyton Orient goals for Football.com - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xo3qsq2_2uU&feature=youtu.be

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