ORIENT manager Russell Slade is eagerly awaiting his side’s Johnstone’s Paint Trophy Area Final second leg against Southend United and believes the fans could be the difference between the sides.
Despite being 1-0 down on aggregate and playing away from home, Slade is relishing the challenge with a place at a Wembley as the prize.
He said: “We’re really looking forward to it. We can put the league programme to one side for one night and hopefully have a really good crack at Southend and possibly get ourselves a place at Wembley.
“We know it’s going to be hard, but that’s our job and that’s what we are going to set out to achieve.”
Despite dominating large periods of the first leg, a single goal from Ryan Leonard was enough for the Shrimpers to snatch a win and Slade is fully aware of the challenge ahead of him and his side.
“It doesn’t suit me to be 1-0 down and certainly the advantage is with Southend, to win the game in 90 minutes, we have to score at least two and that makes our job that little bit harder and we’re away from home.
“What we do have is a great following of fans going there and it promises to be an exciting night and we just need to make sure we come out of it on top.
“I’m expecting the same test (from Southend) as we got last time; a resilient, hardworking side that throw everything at it and make life very difficult for you. They’re organised, they know what they’re doing and for sure whatever side they pick, they’ll be doing the very best as the prize is the same for them.”
The O’s fans are travelling in their numbers across Essex to Roots Hall and Slade believes that they have a huge role to play.
“The fans will be massively important for us. It’s a nice tight ground there (at Roots Hall) and you need your own fans there to make a noise to stay behind the side and that can really count on the night, it can be worth a goal sometimes and let’s hope it is tonight.”
In terms of injury news, Orient are better placed than their opponents who have a lengthy injury list, however Gary Sawyer sustained a leg injury at the weekend and Slade has a couple of other doubts.
“Gary Sawyer took a knock at the weekend so he’s a massive doubt, Kevin Lisbie has had a light training session and so has Dean Cox but we’ll have to wait and see.”
For those not making the journey to Southend, the game is live on Sky Sports 3, whilst Orient Player subscribers can hear the match in full.