Russell Slade insists Orient deserve their opportunity to take on Brentford in front of a sold-out Brisbane Road and believes the O’s fans can play an “enormous” role in helping them overcome their closest promotion rivals.
Orient face the Bees on Saturday in a huge televised clash, which kicks off at 12.15pm, and it will be the first time more than 8,000 fans have crammed into the Matchroom Stadium since their FA Cup draw at home to Arsenal three years ago.
The match could have a huge bearing on the automatic promotion race in League 1 with the O’s currently second but just one point above their opponents. Brentford have two games in hand so the onus will be on Orient to increase the gap between the sides with less than a quarter of the season remaining.
Slade said: “I think we deserve that. The football club deserve that. The players and everybody associated with the football club deserves a big day like that. As I’ve said to the players, before the game, we’ve created records already this season.
“Our away form is excellent and probably the best in the league. But we can’t stop here. This isn’t the stop off for us. We have to keep going right to the end because there’s so much more to play for with ten games to go.”
He added: “It’s vital. But it doesn’t matter who we’re playing to be honest. It happens to be Brentford on Saturday but if it was someone else it would be absolutely vital. The fact we can take three points off them and they lose three points would be fantastic. It would give us a little more momentum and put them under pressure.
“But it’s going to be a tough game because they’re a very good side. Their record stands up over the last 23 games. It’s phenomenal. If we were playing Monopoly on Saturday they would have all the pieces wouldn’t they? If we were playing chess they would have six more pieces than us.”
But the manager said: “I’m confident in my group and I trust them. I know they will go out and do everything they possibly can to win a football match. They will do whatever it takes to try and win a game and they will never give up.”
The O’s biggest crowd of the season came in November’s home defeat to Preston, with 7,123 fans in attendance, but this weekend’s match will surpass that with Brentford taking over the East Stand.
When asked how important the Orient fans would be, Slade replied: “They can play a phenomenal and enormous role but it’s always like that. Our stadium with 6,000 in is a fantastic stadium. With 8,000 here, it will be amazing. I think the last time we packed it was Arsenal which was fantastic.”
Midfielder Romain Vincelot is a major doubt for this weekend after the Frenchman came off after 20 minutes of the O’s 2-0 win at Port Vale on Tuesday night with a swollen foot. Defender Mathieu Baudry is also rated at only 50-50 to return to the side after being sidelined with a hamstring injury.