Slade: O’s as prepared as they can be for play-offs
09:39 10 May 2014
2 BURNHAM RD CHINGFORD LONDON E4 8PE
League One play-off semi-final first leg: Peterborough United v Leyton Orient
Leyton Orient boss Russell Slade feels knowing his side’s play-off fate for a few weeks now can give them an edge when they travel to Peterborough later today.
The O’s may have missed out on automatic promotion, something which hasn’t been done before on their 86 point total
And although they didn’t know who they would be playing until after the final game of the season, Slade’s had plans in place for a number of weeks.
“It’s not like we dropped into the play-offs in the last day,” said Slade. “We’ve known our fate for a few weeks so mentally you are able to see beyond the last few games of the season.
“ It’s all about embracing it, seeing it as a challenge and wanting to progress.”
Despite their third-place finish O’s are the betting underdogs going into the play-offs, and Slade felt every side wanted to face them in the semi-final.
But irrespective of that, the Brisbane Road boss knows his side have as much chance as any of the others.
“We are betting wise the underdogs,” he added. “I suspect the other teams would want to play us.
“But the numbers don’t lie, we finished third after 46 games and we deserved to. We like to think we still have a wonderful opportunity to progress. We are there on merit.”
Going into today’s game Orient will hopefully have Scott Cuthbert available, having missed the 3-1 win over MK Dons with a hip injury.
But the defender came through training on Thursday fine and looks set to be included in Slade’s side as does Elliot Omozusi (hip) and Mathieu Baudry (knee), with both featuring last weekend.
“There’s still a couple we are checking on but Scott Cuthbert has trained,” said Slade.
“Elliot has been training with us, and Baudry has trained as well so we are very close to a fully-fit group. Everyone is making a huge effort to be available.”
Britt Assombalonga remains the main goalscoring threat for the Posh, but the O’s boss knows you cannot focus on just Assombalonga.
“They have got threats, probably the biggest threat going forward in the league in Assombalonga,” he added.
“We will have to deal with that. This is a team game and we will require a team performance.
Today’s game is only the first leg though, and Slade wants his side to make sure they are still in the game come Tuesday’s second leg.
“It’s important to do the basics well. You don’t want it decided on a poor decision, a mistake or indiscipline,” he remarked
“I think that can help. It’s a fixture over 180 minutes and you have to stay in the game and look at the bigger picture.”
There’s no doubt the current O’s squad has the experience. Slade has missed out on two previous occasions in play-off finals, but there are been a number of players as well who have experience both the joy and the heartache of the play-offs.
And the O’s boss hopes that stands them in good stead.
“I do think when you go into the play-offs it’s how you perform on the day,” he said.
“There’s no easy route and no recipe. I’ve done it both ways, at home in the first one, away in the first won. In form, in not so good form.
“There’s no pattern, it’s a one-off situation.
“They tell me it’s third time lucky. You’d hope the fact you’ve done over 650 games now that you can help rather than hinder the process of preparing for a very important game.
“I asked who had experience of the play-offs and five or six hands went up. I think that can help.”