It’s not often that you’ll witness Orient fans applauding their side off the pitch when they’ve just lost 3-1 at home.
Especially when – as we saw earlier this season – those same fans have been quick to boo and hiss the team for much lesser crimes.
But that’s because Orient fans are perhaps smarter than they’re given credit for, and on Monday recognised that the performance they’d just witnessed against Wolves was evidence that we might – just might – have a chance of winning the play-offs.
Since our hopes of automatic promotion were effectively ended by Oldham’s late equaliser in March, every subsequent match has been a dress rehearsal for the two – or hopefully three – games that could change Orient’s history.
Unfortunately – Gillingham aside – these rehearsals have been beset by fluffed lines, technical malfunctions and bizarre cast changes.
Monday was different, and saw Orient demonstrate just why they’ve pushed the better-equipped clubs of League 1 all the way this season.
There were many positives to take into the play-offs from the Wolves match. Here’s five for starters:
1. When Orient pass, they’re good. From about the 35th minute onwards Orient appeared to make the collective decision to play football rather than punting the ball upfield in the vague hope Chris Dagnall might scamper somewhere in its vicinity.
Quite why they’d employed that tactic in the first place is anyone’s guess, but the reality is that when Orient play the ball on the ground to each other they can put teams to the sword. More of that please.
2. John Lundstram is a killer. Not literally, but the Everton loanee can slay opposition defences with a dissecting pass like no other. No other Orient player, anyway.
It’s harsh on Lloyd James, who’s been superb this season, but Lundstram surely has to be first choice in central midfield alongside Vincelot come play-off time.
3. Tiny loves the cameras. Dean Cox put in quite a shift on Monday, and in one ten-minute period just after half-time had the Wolves defence repeatedly scuttling for cover.
The miniscule winger appears to be back to his best and with Sky Sports in attendence at all the play-off games, he’ll have no better opportunity to demonstrate that he’s a cut above.
4. Moons is up for it. If we ignore the fact that Orient’s leading goalscorer spooned two relatively easy chances, David Mooney’s performance against Wolves was much improved.
What was most encouraging was how deep he was willing to drop to get involved in play – at times it was almost as if he wanted to help out the goalkeeper (which might actually have been useful in Shwan Jalal’s two games).
5. Mathieu Baudry is getting all his mistakes out of his system now. Never mind that our elegant French defender committed a ghastly series of errors against Crawley and Wolves. Even Michelin-starred chefs are allowed to burn the toast occasionally.
Come the play-offs Baudry will surely serve up his typically exquisite performances. So, yes, plenty of reasons to be cheerful for the play-offs.
And if we ultimately fail, probably give the boos a miss. You can always save them for next season’s relegation battle.
Matt Simpson’s blog View from the West Stand can be found at www.leytonorientblog.com