LIVE: The Sky Bet Football League Play-Offs 2014
By Tony Leighton
The doubters claimed they were right when Leyton Orient slid out of contention for automatic promotion after setting the Sky Bet League 1 pace for the first two-thirds of the season - but the O's are within sight of reaching the Play-Off Final and are determined to prove their critics wrong, says captain Nathan Clarke.
A 1-1 draw at Peterborough United in Saturday's first leg of the Play-Off semi-final left the tie finely balanced but, despite having to come from behind, Orient had the better of the game and were well worth the equaliser they got through winger Moses Odubajo after striker Britt Assombalonga had put Posh in front.
Defender Clarke said: "Getting the goal back puts us in a great position for the second leg. We've got the confidence and belief that if we do go behind again we're more than good enough to sneak a goal and go on to get the win. We had more chances than they did, so hopefully we can put that right on Tuesday.
"The focus for us will be like it's been throughout the season, sticking to the game plan and getting our danger men on the ball as much as we can. If people want to keep writing us off then fair enough, but we've managed to quieten a few people during the course of the season and we'll continue to aim to do that.
"We're a close group, the manager has got us all working for each other and once we are out there we know we can rely on each other. We spend a lot of time away from football together, and you tend to look out for each other a bit more on the pitch when you're good friends off it - that's the special bond we've got."
Orient are looking to climb up to Championship level for the first time since the 1981/82 season, while Peterborough are aiming for a rapid return after being relegated at the end of last term. And Clarke knows only too well that Posh have a tremendous Play-Offs record having won all three of their previous campaigns.
The O's skipper was in the Huddersfield Town team that lost to Peterborough in the 2011 League 1 Play-Off Final.
"Thanks for bringing that up," he said when reminded of what for Clarke was a bitterly disappointing day - though he and his Terriers team-mates made amends by then winning the 2012 Play-Offs.
Now he is aiming to repeat the feat with Orient and is just 90 minutes away from Wembley. "Peterborough have got a fantastic record in the Play-Offs," he noted, "and that's something we'll have to keep in the back of our minds. But it will be a life-changing game on Tuesday - and we're desperate to come out on top."
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