Orient seek redemption in crunch Preston clash
13:00 14 February 2014
On the back of three consecutive defeats, Orient travel to in-form Preston tomorrow looking to get their promotion campaign back on track.
It’s been a horrible February so far for the O’s. They started the month at the top of League One, but defeats to Rotherham, Peterborough and most recently struggling Bristol City have coincided with late goals conceded, two new goalkeepers and a drop to third in the table.
Captain Nathan Clarke is determined the players won’t throw away the team’s excellent first half of the season.
Clarke, who signed a new two-year contract today, said: “Preston will be really difficult, they’re right on our coattails now so we’ll need to stand up and be counted.
“The manager has asked for a reaction and it’s up to the players to give him that. “The fans have been right behind us this season, we’ve been getting 5,000 or 6,000 into Brisbane Road which is great, but we need that to continue.”
The Lilywhites are only five points behind the O’s with a game in hand having lost just two of 18 League One games – against the current top two Brentford and Wolves.
Manager Russell Slade reckons Preston will be rubbing their hands at the prospect of facing his team but his confident his players can bounce back.
“I’m sure they’ll be looking forward to entertaining us on Saturday,” he said.
“But we’ll go there, we’ll roll our sleeves up and if we perform like we did in the second half we won’t be far away.
Simon Grayson’s team won 1-0 at Brisbane Road back in November thanks to Joe Garner’s excellent volley.
They are one of only two teams who can do a league double over Orient this season, Crawley being the other one.
Clarke, whose younger brother and former O’s loanee Tom is likely to be in Preston’s defence, said: “We need to get out of this rut we’re in at the moment and get back to the form that got us in this position.”
Hull goalkeeper Eldin Jakupovic has returned after a productive loan period at Brisbane Road earlier this month.
He conceded one goal in four straight wins before being recalled by the Tigers following Allan McGregor’s sending off against Crystal Palace.
Since his departure the O’s have lost three straight games, conceding seven goals in the process with Ben Alnwick and Shwan Jalal between the sticks.
Defender Elliot Omozusi is likely to miss the game with a groin injury but Slade is hopeful striker Kevin Lisbie will be fit after a sore back forced him off against Bristol City on Tuesday.
Goalkeeper Jamie Jones (back) and forward Shaun Batt (hamstring) are out long-term.