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Successful FA Cup run a big motivation for Orient, says Clay

PUBLISHED: 15:30 18 October 2018

Leyton Orient midfielder Craig Clay battles with Hartlepool United rival Nicky Featherstone (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Leyton Orient midfielder Craig Clay battles with Hartlepool United rival Nicky Featherstone (pic: Simon O'Connor).

Simon O'Connor Photography

The club will look to maintain their long tradition of competing in the first round proper by winning at Maidstone on Saturday

Leyton Orient midfielder Craig Clay says everyone at the club would love a long run in the FA Cup, but insists they will not take Maidstone United lightly this weekend.

The two teams have already faced each other in Kent this season, early on in the National League campaign on August 14, and the O’s won 2-1.

It was Orient’s first victory of the term and they have gone on to record several more since, but the Stones have not and this resulted in a surprise change of management.

Long-serving boss Jay Saunders left on August 28 and ex-Billericay Town head coach Harry Wheeler replaced him on September 11 and has done well which would suggest Saturday should be a tight contest.

Clay said: “It would be nice to go on a good, little FA Cup run and experience the magic of the cup.

“It would be great to get into the third round and maybe get one of the big teams, but we have to worry about Maidstone first.

“We are going there to do a job, we will not be taking our foot off the gas and we will be professional about it and go there to win.”

Midfielder Clay may actually find himself on the bench this weekend for the fourth qualifying round tie as head coach Justin Edinburgh could decide to rest some of his regular starters.

Whoever does play will be eager to help O’s continue the feel-good factor around the club right now with 6,877 spectators watching the National League game in E10 with Hartlepool United on Saturday.

The atmosphere was superb and Orient will take a strong following over the Dartford Crossing to the Gallagher Stadium this weekend.

Maidstone are 20th in the table and directly above the relegation zone, but they do have a three-point cushion over the bottom four and they will welcome a good run in the FA Cup so O’s cannot take their eye off the ball.

“We will take it game by game,” Clay said. “Saturday is our first in the competition and a chance to get into the next round.

“Always you dream of getting someone big and causing an upset, but we will go to Maidstone, try to do a job and then look forward to the first round.”

If Orient can progress, they will maintain their long tradition of competing in the first round proper.

The O’s have essentially always been in the first round of the FA Cup and last failed to compete in the first round during the 1907/08 campaign, over a century ago, so that will be one of the motivations ahead of Saturday’s away tie.

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