In another in our Coaching Diaries series, respected young coach Anthony Hudson analyses matches and training methods, reporting on his experiences and observations of the professional game. Anthony became the youngest professional football manager in the United States when taking Second Division side Real Maryland FC to the 2009 Playoffs and was nominated for Coach of the Year at just 27 years old. He has written for several coaching publications, holds a UEFA ‘A’ License (English FA) and is currently spending time at Tottenham Hotspur under the watchful eye of Harry Redknapp.

Here Anthony, who was present as Leyton Orient met Dagenham & Redbridge in an FA Cup First Round Replay recently, analyses the game and brings us a tactical breakdown of the match.

FA Cup Round One Replay
Leyton Orient v Dagenham & Redbridge  

16th November, 2010
7.45pm Kick Off
Brisbane Road
Pressure High as Potential Money Spinning Road to the Third Round Awaits…

With Blue Square North team Droyslden FC awaiting the winners, the talk around the game was about the potential windfall the winning team will get should they meet a top Premier League team in Round Three of the FA Cup. With Round Two being shown live on UK TV channel ESPN, and then the big boys entering in Round Three, huge financial help was up for grabs with the opportunity for players to showcase themselves against the best – this competition really does mean so much in so many ways. The game started at a very frantic pace and it was Leyton Orient who matched the speed of the game with flashes of real quality, but could Dagenham have tweaked their style just a touch, in order to gain the upper hand?


Leyton Orient (Red):

12. Butcher 2. Omuzusi 6. Forbes
4. Chorley (captain) 13. Daniels 16. Spring
20. Smith 27. Mpoku 7. Cox
9. McGleish 11. Revell

Dagenham & Redbridge (Blue):

30.Lewington 3. McCrory 6. Arber (captain)
5. Antwi 19. Ogogo 18. Taiwo
20. Vincelot 7. Green 33. Gain
9. Nurse 16. Savage

Poor Start

In a game like this and especially away from home, the first five minutes are absolutely crucial. And when setting up defensively at free kicks and corners, extra concentration needs to be present in spades; the sort of concentration players have when they are seconds away from winning the Champions League and there is no way, they are going to let the opposition score. Within two minutes, Leyton Orient were awarded a free kick out on the right hand side and over ran left back Charlie Daniels. In-swinging free kick, great delivery, great area, but three players free at the far post and Scott McGleish slid in to put it in the roof of the net. Poor start and poor defending. That heightened concentration players have in these moments means that they pick their man up, get others picked up, stay with their man, stay goal side and inside of him, and then be brave and get there first.

As you can imagine, League One football – both sides play at that level – can be very direct and this was no different. However, there are ways of being direct and certainly ways of playing to a team’s strengths and exposing the opposition’s weaknesses. This is where I feel Leyton Orient just had the edge in this department, and also on the night had a little more quality.

Tactics aside, it would be remiss not to mention Orient’s Alex Revell (No.11) who played as a typical No.9. I lost count of how many times I said ‘well done’, and with players like this in your side, you’ve always got a great chance of winning a game of football. He was great in the air, intelligent, always getting up before the defender, good feet, bringing others into play, but most of all he did not stop working and running, putting defenders under pressure on the ball and making some great runs. What a handful and great asset to the manager.

For Dagenham the Main Threats were in Three Areas:

1. Dealing with direct balls into the forward Revell, and his partner McGleish (No.9) running off him.

2. Both wide men, Paul-Jose Mpoku (No.27, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur) and Dean Cox (No.7) both had a lot of energy and skill and caused Dagenham’s full backs lots of problems. Both stayed very wide majority of the time.

3. The service/delivery from the left back Charlie Daniels (No.13). His passing was excellent, long, short and has the ability to switch play really well, which he did very effectively.

Main Threats: Quality service from the left back, No.13.Wide men
No.7 and No.27 isolating the full backs and going one v one at them.
The long/direct ball into No.11 (who won everything
in the air) and No.9 running in behind.

When the full backs tucked in to cover the centre back defending the header centrally, this left the two wide players open with plenty of space (both players stayed very wide). They had too much time on the ball and ended up going one v one against the full backs and getting crosses in the box and wining free kcks high up the pitch. To remedy this, Dagenham’s wide players came back and supported their full backs making it a two v one situation. This helped, but then left the left back with far too much space to receive the ball and pick a dangerous pass out, which he did very well.

Leyton Orient’s Main Threat: One Word – Set Pieces

Throw-ins, corners and free kicks, these were the one only times during the first half that Dagenham looked dangerous and looked like scoring a goal. They played very direct, into their big centre forward Bas Savage (No.16) and won several set pieces in Orient’s defending third of the pitch. It wasn’t so much the first one that was the problem, it was the second one that a lot of time Dagenham were first to and could have sneaked a goal in the first half.

Could They Have Tweaked Their Style?

I was unsure about a few things last night. Dagenham’s most dominant play was long and direct into No.16 (Savage – 6 3’). He is a very big striker, but Orient’s captain, Ben Chorley who played left sided centre back, marked him the whole game and probably won 70 per cent of the headers. Every goal kick, every time the centre back had the ball at his feet he went and stood on Chorley. Now, Chorley’s partner at centre back was Terrel Forbes, who is much, much smaller than both Chorley and Savage, and must have been extremely glad he didn’t have to go up against him last night. Why didn’t Savage go and start where he had a massive height advantage and stand on Forbes every time? Dagenham had a very useful long throw (which caused all sorts of problems) from the left hand side (left midfielder Peter Gain No.33), so primarily I thought that must be why he is over on that side. Maybe? Well, it turned out later in the game that the right back had just as good a throw. This was the most dangerous part of their attack and their most consistent play, and I felt they could have approached it a little differently. Just a small thing, but one I feel could have given an advantage. Another slight disadvantage was, Savage finding himself making runs into the channels/wide areas. Why? He was the biggest player on the pitch and I feel it would have been much more advantageous to have cleared that space for his wide players and full backs to be able to get crosses in the box, where Savage is then in his most threatening position – attacking the cross.

Goal Kicks – Early in the game Dagenham almost had a back five, with three in front and two in front of them. They were getting hammered by Revell in the air and players running off him, but what was more puzzling was why one of the smallest players on the pitch, centre midfielder Romain Vincelot (No.20), dropped into that back five to mark the best header of the ball.

No.20 dropped back and marked No.11 – massive height disadvantage.
And also left team outnumbered as Orient recognised and played
out from a goal kick down the other side of the pitch and
ended up in Dagenham’s final third. They gave them too much
space and couldn’t go and stop them because they were too far away.

Leyton Orient went 2-0 up after M’Poku (No.27) dropped to pick up the ball and played a great through ball for Revell, who was unmarked in the middle as all the defenders had drifted across to the left hand side for the obvious pass down the line. Great ball from Mpoku and a good finish from Revell.

Half Time Focus

For both teams, keeping in mind the style of play, a few organisational pointers I feel needed to be addressed:

Dagenham & Redbridge:

1. No.16 – Every time we win the ball, and a goal kick or centre back has it, go and stand on Forbes, the right sided centre back. You will win everything against him in there.

2. No.20 – Come out of there on goal kicks. Mark your centre midfielder, not their centre forward. Back four get narrow.

3. No.20 – Drop in as a holding midfielder and No.9 you drop deeper, play as an attacking midfielder. When we lose the ball, get goal side of their centre midfielder. No.20 – don’t want you getting forward, just sit in front of the back four and stop that ball into Revell, or turn and get on his touch and win the ball from the front.

4. No.7 – Get up to the left back as soon as possible, shut the line off (the pass into Mpoku) and No.16 you do the centre back and stop it going out the other side.

5. They will make a mistake in the box very soon, they are slower than us at reacting to the second balls. Keep being direct and putting them under pressure. We just have to make sure we tighten these things up defensively and don’t concede any more goals. 

Leyton Orient:

1. Big Emphasis – The only way they are going to score in this game is from a set piece. Let’s not give away any unnecessary free kicks, corners or throw ins. Defenders, unless we’ve got really good possession, let’s not play it around at the back and invite that pressure on us. Play further up the pitch and try and eliminate that threat. So wide players, don’t come short for it, first look is always, ‘can I get it in behind their back four?’ No throw-ins or corners.

2. Go and press their two midfielders early; every time we’ve done that they give the ball the away.

3. Let their number No.5 have the ball as much as possible, he knocks it long, but with very little accuracy. He’s the only player we let have it at the back. 

4. When Revell goes and presses, we all go. Go and support him. They will give us the ball.

Second Half

Early in the second half, Dagenham put the ball in the back of the net, but the referee disallows it. Leyton Orient continue to give the ball away cheaply in their own final third which results in more and more pressure from Dagenham. In one instance the right back (No.2) recieves the ball in space and looks no further than outside him to his wide player, almost 10 yards away and under pressure. He gives him the ball, wide man tries to play it around him, goes out for a throw in. Wide man needs to get away and full back needs to get his head up and look longer, and take the pressure off.

Still Orient’s Chorley is winning the battle in the air between him and No.16. Why not change it?

Then came the inevitable, corner against Orient. As some of the Orient defenders get attracted to big Savage, Gain (No.33) comes round the back and slams a header at the goal and amazingly it is cleared off the line, the ball scrambles around and then the referee gives a penalty. A very soft one, but it was only a matter of time. Danny Green (No.7) puts it away. With Dagenham now filled with confidence another long throw is hurled in, no one goes with the runner, a shot on goal and the ball falls to the substitute Solomon Taiwo, who puts it away – 2-2. Poor defending all around from Orient. The manager said after the game that the ‘soft penalty’ decision changed the game, but for me they invited far too much pressure on themselves which put them in that position in the first place.

Then came the winner, from another set piece, this time to Orient. Great run from McGleish toward the near post, but no one goes with him. Great header and now the game finishes frantically with opportunities for Dagenham to get an equaliser.

Final Score 3-2 Leyton Orient Win


On the night I felt Leyton Orient were the worthy winners, with some great work ethic from Revell up front and quality from the left back Daniels. Dagenham showed some real spirit and they will give anyone a game, but I felt that with the tools they have, they could have tweaked things slightly to really expose Orient’s weaknesses. Now it is Droylsden in the next round. Everyone seems to be talking about Round Three, but I for one would not be looking anywhere past Round Two, and making sure the Conference North team are put away.