Reliving magic of the FA Cup as Orient seal quarter-final place with style back in 1978

PUBLISHED: 10:00 25 March 2020

Middlesbrough's John Mahoney (left) and Leyton Orient's Tony Grealish fight for the ball during the FA Cup quarter-final at Ayresome Park in March 1978 (pic PA)

Middlesbrough's John Mahoney (left) and Leyton Orient's Tony Grealish fight for the ball during the FA Cup quarter-final at Ayresome Park in March 1978 (pic PA)

PA Archive/PA Images

The FA Cup quarter-finals should have been enjoyed by football fans at the weekend, but with sport currently suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic it was a good chance to reminisce.

Leyton Orient legend Peter Kitchen in action for the club during the 1978/79 campaign (pic: Colorsport/Andrew Cowie).Leyton Orient legend Peter Kitchen in action for the club during the 1978/79 campaign (pic: Colorsport/Andrew Cowie).

Leyton Orient fans do not have too many FA Cup quarter-finals to talk about, but the club has made it that far on a few occasions, including the 1977/78 season.

That successful squad featured the likes of Glenn Roeder, Peter Kitchen, Tony Grealish, Peter Allen, Tunji Banjo, Peter Bennett, John Chiedozie, Derek Clarke, Bobby Fisher, Allan Glover, Kevin Godfrey, Nigel Gray, Phil Hoadley, John Jackson, Joe Mayo, David Payne, Bill Roffey and Alan Whittle.

They were a mid-table second division (Championship) outfit with no fear of going down and no chance of going up, therefore the cup brought their happiest memories of that campaign.

Star player Kitchen scored seven of Orient’s nine goals during the run as they played eight times in the competition – one more than the eventual winners Ipswich Town.

O’s held First Division Norwich City to a 1-1 draw in the third round and then stunned the Canaries 1-0 in the replay at Carrow Road.

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A tough encounter with Second Division rivals Blackburn Rovers followed in the fourth road, but Orient made it through with a hard-fought 3-1 victory.

Jimmy Bloomfield’s team needed another replay to progress from round five and it was an impressive achievement, as they played out a goalless draw with Chelsea at Brisbane Road before winning 2-1 at Stamford Bridge.

The win over the Blues set up a quarter-final tie at Middlesbrough and O’s managed to earn a replay, following a stalemate in the North East, before triumphing 2-1 in E10.

It was goals from striker Kitchen and former West Bromwich Albion man Joe Mayo which sealed their progress into their first-ever FA Cup semi-final clash where they would face north Londoners Arsenal.

That was the end of the road for the O’s as they crashed to a 3-0 defeat to the Gunners at Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge to deny them a place in the prestigious cup final.

A brace from Malcolm McDonald and a solo effort from Graham Rix sealed the win.

Arsenal did however lose to Ipswich Town in the Wembley final as the Tractorboys were crowned cup winners.

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