By Chris Phillips
SOUTHEND United legend Paul Clark believes tonight’s clash at Roots Hall is simply impossible to predict.
Clark, who made 359 appearances for Blues and also managed the club, watched the first leg at Brisbane Road as Paul Sturrock’s side secured a hard fought 1-0 win.
But he feels the outcome of the second leg is too close to call.
“I think it really is a toss of a coin who goes on to win this game,” said Clark.
“In the first half of the first leg Orient were on top and the defence and the goalkeeper really had to keep Southend in it.
“However, in the first 20 minutes of the second half Blues were on top for 20 minutes or so and deserved to go in front.
“After that they rode their luck to hang on to the lead and one thing is for certain, Orient will not miss the same number of chances as they did in the first leg.”
Southend’s goalkeeper Paul Smith pulled off a string of fine saves to ensure Ryan Leonard’s goal gave Blues a slight advantage for tonight’s clash.
But Clark, who also worked in the coaching set up at Leyton Orient after hanging up his boots, feels the home-side’s injury troubles could harm their chances of reaching Wembley.
“Being honest, I don’t think Southend could be going in to this game in worse shape,” said the 54-year-old.
“I’m not sure what the latest is on Chris Barker and Mark Phillips but they could be out and it’s huge for them that Ryan Cresswell is missing because he’s a vital important player.
“I think Michael Timlin is too because he’s the voice in midfield.
“He organises things in there even when he isn’t playing well and up front is a problem now too.
“Gavin Timlin is injured, Britt Assombalonga has gone off the boil a little bit and Freddy Eastwood is still trying to find his feet again.
“Southend also haven’t been playing well for a few weeks now either but I could see them coming out, hitting the ground running and winning the game easily.
“But I could also see Orient doing the same so it really is a very hard game to have to try and predict.”
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