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Top of the South Stand: Slade goes back in time as Lisbie steals the show

Orient's Kevin Lisbie is close to a return Pic: Simon O'Connor Orient's Kevin Lisbie is close to a return Pic: Simon O'Connor

Tom Taylor, London24 Leyton Orient blogger
Monday, November 12, 2012
2:46 PM

Another goal-shy performance on Wednesday night led to Saturday’s game at home to struggling Shrewsbury taking on even more importance for Orient, and manager Russell Slade in particular, who seemed to be edging closer to the dreaded sack.

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About our blogger

Name: Tom Taylor

Season ticket holder

Favourite player: Romain Vincelot

Most memorable game: Arsenal (Home) FA Cup 5th round 2010/11

Predicted finish: 12th

So what was Slade’s plan to turn around this disastrous run? He went back in time.

The successful tactics of two seasons ago were implemented again as the O’s boss went for his classic lopsided 4-4-2 formation, with Jimmy Smith given license to roam. The ugly, direct style of football of this season was replaced by a prettier and more effective passing game.

For his old formation to fully work, Slade needed a talismanic man up top who would create havoc in the opposition’s defence while providing a goal threat, which has been sadly lacking from his other strikers. Step forward Kevin Lisbie.

Similar to Scott McGleish a couple of seasons ago, Lisbie’s craft and guile in attacking areas was just what Slade and Orient needed. It is no surprise that their form has nosedived since his absence due to the hamstring injury obtained in early October.

"It is no surprise that their form has nosedived since his absence due to the hamstring injury obtained in early October "

Tom Taylor on Orient’s spell without Kevin Lisbie

It was Lisbie who stepped up to break the home side’s current hoodoo in front of goal. Moses Odubajo’s surging run into the box was halted unfairly by Jeremy Helan, and the Hackney-born man calmly rolled the penalty into the net, much to the delight and relief of the Orient faithful.

After the opener, the O’s gained some control of the match and were impressing as Shrewsbury, who were also badly out of form, showed little sign of getting back into the contest. The crowd could all but sense Slade ready to march to the Tommy Johnston stand in celebration of a much-needed victory by doffing his cap to the crowd. It was never going to be that easy.

A lackadaisical moment deep into the second half by Orient’s midfield was pounced upon with a lethal counter-attack which was excellently finished by Jon Taylor. The game had quickly turned, and it was now Salop who were attacking with real confidence, hoping to claim a decisive winner.

The home team once again were relying on their King Kev to get them out of a awkward situation. He almost did it with 10 minutes to go as a delightful twist and turn on the edge of the box mugged the visiting defence only for Chris Weale to deny him with a super save.

But Lisbie’s big moment was to come. A terrific corner delivery from the recently maligned Dean Cox met the head of Orient’s number nine perfectly for him to thunder the ball into the net.

With that header Orient had finally managed tamed the Shrews, with no small thanks due to the supreme efforts of Lisbie upon his return.

Now perhaps the reds can push on back up to mid-table where they were before his injury; as Leon McSweeney tweeted after the game, “Keep Sir Kev fit and who knows”.

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