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Orient prepare for battle with struggling Stones

PUBLISHED: 13:00 24 January 2019

Charlie Lee looks to find a Leyton Orient team-mate despite the close proximity of Ebbsfleet United's Jack Payne (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Charlie Lee looks to find a Leyton Orient team-mate despite the close proximity of Ebbsfleet United's Jack Payne (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient v Ebbsfleet United(a)

Maidstone are in the relegation zone, but beat O's in the FA Cup and will provide a stiff challenge on Saturday

Leyton Orient will host Maidstone United in the National League this weekend looking to put a difficult month of January behind them.

After starting 2019 with a 1-0 win over Dagenham & Redbridge in E10, O’s have since lost at home to Salford City and away to Ebbsfleet United.

On Saturday, the leaders failed to handle the challenge of Fleet, who have improved since Garry Hill and Ian Hendon took over as manager and assistant respectively on November 8.

Fortunately for the east London outfit, they are still top on goal difference after Salford slipped up to draw 1-1 at home to Gateshead.

It highlights the unpredictable nature of the National League and while Orient, City and Wrexham have faltered of late, Solihull Moors have made the most of it.

Tim Flowers’ team are joint-top with O’s on 57 points after three consecutive league wins and all of a sudden the top five in the division are separated by just four points.

All of this makes Saturday a big day for Justin Edinburgh’s Orient and they desperately need a victory to boost confidence again.

While Maidstone are 23rd in the standings, they have impressed on the road over the last month and won their most recent away games.

The Stones, who are onto their third management team of the campaign, have triumphed at Boreham Wood and Hartlepool United recently.

However, if Orient are realistic about winning the title then this is the type of match they have to win and they should have Craig Clay fit to select from the off.

O’s have missed the midfielder’s energy in recent clashes and boss Edinburgh looks set to hand new signing Jamie Turley his full debut.

At Ebbsfleet he was introduced in the 67th minute for George Elokobi, alongside Matt Harrold and Clay, and the ex-Notts County defender could partner Dan Happe when the Stones visit E10.

On Monday, O’s revealed Elokobi had been transfer-listed after he failed to “meet club standards” at Fleet.

It means he is unlikely to be involved against Maidstone and could sit out Orient’s last-eight tie in the London Senior Cup at Welling United on Tuesday.

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