Leyton Orient boss thinks side could challenge for League One play-offs
Russell Slade believes his side could emulate their promotion push from two years ago when they narrowly missed out on reaching the League One play-offs.
Leyton Orient climbed up to 12th in the table after their superb 2-1 win at Walsall on Tuesday night and optimism has significantly increased after losing their first three league matches.
The O’s boss is hopeful his new-look side will improve over the course of the season and this bodes well for the supporters.
When asked if they could repeat their league campaign from two seasons ago, Slade said: “Possibly. It’s difficult to know because that team improved as well over the season.
“It didn’t start off fantastically well but it improved and that’s what I’m hoping this will do as we get to know each others’ strengths and weaknesses.
“This is a fantastic start for me. I’m not renowned for a good start and we lost the first three games this season.
“I normally wake up in October and my teams generally improve. Hopefully this season is no different because to be in the top half in October is quite extreme for me.”
Orient bounced back from their flat effort against Doncaster Rovers at the weekend with arguably their best performance of the season at Walsall.
The Saddlers fell behind to Lee Cook’s early effort before Dean Cox’s sensational strike from Orient's half.
Walsall gave themselves a lifeline in the second half through Will Grigg’s penalty after Cook’s foul on Ben Purkiss. But Orient held on for a deserved three points and a second away victory of the season.
The O’s boss said: “It was very good and a very professional performance.
“I thought tactically we were bang on the money. It’s not easy to win football matches at the best of times.
“To win away to a team that are in good form is not easy and we’ve come away with three great points. I thought overall it would have been a travesty if we hadn’t have won the game.
“I said to the players at the end the win means you go into the next game with confidence knowing if you can get a result against Sheffield United you can get in the top eight. If we’d lost then we’d be playing Sheffield United to stay out of the bottom six.
“That’s the difference that three points means at this stage of the season, because everything is so tight and in terms of tables it doesn’t settle down for another three or four games.
“There is a great spirit. Even on Saturday in defeat we were still attempting to take the game to a good, experienced Doncaster side.
“We came here and faced a different challenge at Walsall.
“They pass the ball neat and tidily and try to get between your lines but we coped with that very well.
“Every week there’s a challenge and every team’s different.
“We’ve got Sheffield United on Saturday and I’m sure that will be a test of a different nature.”
The improvement in Orient’s performance from the weekend was drastic but the return of Martin Rowlands and Anthony Griffith in midfield undoubtedly made a vital difference.
Former Queens Park Rangers player Rowlands managed 60 minutes and Slade was quick to pay tribute to the influence the 33-year-old has had on his team-mates.
“They [Rowlands and Griffith] are so significant to the team,” he added. "Rowly came off after 60 minutes because he’s not had much training prior to the game.
“He’s a great voice with real know how and he’s a real good influence on the younger players. To have him out there for 60 minutes was obviously pleasing.
“Coxy came off with a bit of a tight hamstring as well. It’s the program now with two games a week and they come thick and fast.
“It really does test the depth of your squad and we’ve only got a small squad so it will test us severely over the coming weeks.”