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Leyton Orient boss Slade insists the O's can still catch Wolves and Brentford in promotion race
Russell Slade insists Orient will not give up on automatic promotion despite falling out of the top two in League 1 following their defeat to rivals Brentford.
The O’s slipped down to third after Mark Warburton’s side leapfrogged them on Saturday and with Orient having played more games than the Bees and Wolves, their chances of avoiding the play-offs have weakened considerably.
But Orient boss Slade believes Brentford’s celebrations after the final whistle at Brisbane Road are premature and has not given up the fight for a place in the Championship at the start of May.
Slade said: “It's going to be tough. It’s a disappointed changing room but they are a good group and I trust them and believe in them. I’m sure that when we’ve reflected on this we will go out and fight for as many points as we can.
“We’re disappointed obviously with the result. It was a big, big game for both teams but it’s not finished here. They celebrated like they’d won the FA Cup but it’s not finished here, that’s for sure.”
He added: “My message to the fans is the same as we will send to the players and that is to keep going. We have to keep that attitude, focus and relentlessness that we’ve shown all season. It’s not over yet. This might not be our stop.
“It’s a crystal ball but there could well be twists and turns to come. We won’t give up, that’s for sure.”
Despite Wolves’ surprise defeat at Crawley Town on Tuesday night, Kenny Jackett’s side and Brentford are heavy favourites for automatic promotion. Although Saturday’s defeat has loosened the expectations on Orient, Slade insists he would prefer to face the pressure of being in the top two.
He said: “I think the same pressure is on week in, week out to win a football match if I’m honest. I’d rather have that pressure [of being in the top two]. This team has done very well with that pressure all season.
“I thought we reacted to a full house today and played some terrific football in the first half. We created some chances and Brentford can consider themselves fortunate to be winning at half-time.”
The O’s played most of the second half with an extra man after James Tarkowski’s dismissal but Orient failed to take advantage of this. Slade admits his side did not make the most of the opportunity against ten-man Brentford.
The Orient boss said: “I just thought we tried to get the ball from back to front a little bit too quickly rather than working the ball through the midfield.
“I thought we could have done that better which made the game long and made the pitch nice and big for them when they cleared the ball, enabling them to get out and get the ball forward. There were things that could have been a little bit better against ten men.”
Orient will look for an immediate response this weekend when they travel to Walsall. The Saddlers are eighth but a distant nine points off the play-offs.
Slade hopes to have defender Mathieu Baudry available after the Frenchman has missed the last four games with a hamstring injury.
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