Orient captain Nathan Clarke insists all the pressure is on Saturday’s opponents Brentford and believes the O’s can prove people wrong for writing off their chances of automatic promotion.
The East Londoners head into this weekend’s pivotal showdown in second place but the Bees are still widely favoured to secure the second automatic promotion slot alongside Wolves.
But centre-back Clarke is not worried that his side have been overlooked by many and thinks this could suit Orient during the run-in.
Clarke said: “There’s loads of football left. There’s ten games left and these next few matches are going to be really tough. A lot of people are possibly writing us off for the top two which suits us and we can creep in. The pressure’s on Brentford and Wolves with Preston creeping up behind us.
“We’ve just got to get our heads down, focus and keep getting on with our work. If we end up in the top two then that’s fantastic. If not, we’ll work even harder to try and prove a point and do it the play-off way.”
The skipper continued: “We keep getting questions thrown at us that we possibly shouldn’t be here, or that we’re not going to make it to the end and we want to prove people wrong. We’re a good, solid side and we know we can do something good this season. We’ve just got to keep focused and keep believing that we can do something special.”
The Bees are only point below second-placed Orient in the League 1 table so the significance of Saturday’s occasion is not in doubt.
“A lot of people are saying it’s one of the biggest games of the season and the club’s history,” Clarke said. “We’ve also got to look at it that it’s the next challenge for us. We’re going to be up against a strong side that won tonight [Tuesday].
“We’re going to have to be fully focused which we have been for the past few months. The effort that goes in on the training ground is putting us in good stead on the pitch. It’s not just one person that’s winning us the match. It’s a full team effort and I think we’re going to definitely need that on Saturday.”
Orient have reached 74 points with ten matches left after their 2-0 win at Port Vale on Tuesday night. Their play-off place is all but confirmed but Clarke is determined that the team do not waste a glorious opportunity to go up automatically.
The 30-year-old said: “We’ve always got to be pushing ourselves. I think if you settle now and say we’re in the play-offs and take our foot off the pedal we’d kick ourselves. If games come along and we have the chance to win them then we’re going to be full throttle. There’s ten games left and if you can’t give everything, you shouldn’t be playing.”
The midweek win at Port Vale was a big moment for the defender after he scored his first goal for the club in his 79th appearance.
Clarke said: “I was due one. I’ve been getting a little bit of stick from my younger brother [Tom] whose tally is up to five or six now which is frustrating. I was overdue one and am delighted to get the second goal which calmed us down a little bit and enabled us to try and get in the game a bit more which was good.”
He joked: “Now I’ve got the taste for it, they’re [Brentford] possibly going to have to double mark me. If I can get another goal and help the team that’s fantastic but my job is to try and keep them out and give the ball to the forward players.”