Russell Slade claims the three other contenders will want to face Orient in the play-offs but insists his side are ready for any fight as they aim to defy the odds and win promotion.
The O’s slipped to their lowest position in League 1 this season on Monday as their defeat to Wolves sent them down to fifth in the table.
Orient have only won one of their last eight matches and their manager believes they are the outsiders of the top six. Rotherham United and Preston North End have overtaken them in the table and Slade insists the O’s will be the preferred opponents of the other three play-off rivals next month.
Slade said: “At the end of the day we’re little old Leyton Orient and we’re going to have to earn and fight for everything. Everybody will want to play us in the play-offs, there is no doubt about that. We’re the smallest club, with the smallest budget and squad and our form isn’t great.
“Everyone will want to play us and they will think that’s the way through to the League 1 play-off final. But we’re ready for any fight and we’ll play anybody. Let’s hope the people in the middle make the right decisions when we play to make it a fair game because all we want is a fair contest.”
Slade felt the right decisions weren’t made on Easter Monday during their 3-1 home defeat to the League 1 champions.
Trailing 1-0, Orient should have had a penalty when David Mooney’s shot was blocked by Richard Stearman’s arms but referee Neil Swarbrick waved play on.
Slade, whose side also had a goal for Chris Dagnall ruled out for offside, said: “How the ball stayed out of the back of the net I don’t know? We were unfortunate with one that’s in the back of the net in the first half and the penalty decision, which they got wrong between them. It is very frustrating because if that was [for Wolves] at Molineux then it’s a penalty.”
Orient found themselves 2-0 down to Kenny Jackett’s side after 32 minutes but then rallied impressively and peppered the Wolves goal. The visitors were flattered by their victory and Slade described some of the hosts’ football as their best of the season.
The O’s boss said: “I thought it was a monumental effort at 2-0 down to show the character we did to come right back at them and we were very unfortunate not to get something out of the game.”
He added: “I thought we were excellent in defeat, I really do. For 35 minutes in the second period it’s as good as we’ve played all season bearing in mind, with due respect to other teams, we’re playing against the team that’s won the title and we’ve absolutely dominated.
“For ten minutes before half-time and 35 minutes after the break we were excellent. I thought we tired and didn’t think the subs made the impact I wanted them to make. But other than that I thought we were excellent.”