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Have Leyton Orient cemented themselves as League One playoff contenders?

Since losing away at third-placed Bolton Wanderers two days before Christmas, Leyton Orient were sat 16th in the table, just six points off the relegation zone. Since then, they have gone on an eight game unbeaten run, winning six and drawing two. That is the best record in the division in that span, and they are the only team in the division unbeaten in 2024. This has pushed them up into ninth in the league, and with relegation in the rear view mirror, they are now only seven points off of the playoffs.

It has been a remarkable run for Richie Wellens' side, who won the league Two title last season. But newly promoted teams are never expected to do well, with it typically taking a couple of seasons to acclimatise to third tier football. But The O's, alongside Stevenage, who finished second behind Orient last season, have shown that they have the quality to be up near the top again this campaign. In back-to-back weeks, Orient managed to beat leaders Portsmouth 3-0 away from home, surely the best win of the season, before winning 1-0 at home to Bolton a week later. Those two results in a row demonstrated that this team is no fluke, and Richie Wellens should be viewed as one of the best managers in the league.

However, the demanding question for Orient is are they really good enough to make a late charge for a playoff spot? Or will there mazy run come to an abrupt end in the near future? Well, as previously mentioned, they currently sit seven points behind Stevenage who are in seventh place. And with 16 games to go there is still plenty of football to be played before the season culminates at the end of April.

Looking ahead at the upcoming fixtures for Orient, they will have their work cut out if they are going to contend for a playoff spot. They still have to travel to the likes of Barnsley, Oxford, Stevenage and Derby, all of whom are above Orient in the table. They will also host Bristol Rovers, who are currently only one place below the O's, as well as Northampton and Peterborough. So it will not be easy going for Orient, who will look to shock the league and snatch one of the last two playoff spots off of the likes of Barnsley, Stevenage or Oxford. That only heightens the significance of those away trips between now and the end of the season.

Nonetheless, no matter the outcome of this season, fans will still look back at the campaign in high regard, and will hope that their team can continue to improve under Wellens, and potentially push for a high finish next time around. Things are looking promising in E10 and, after a tumultuous few years at the club, they seem to be on the rise again, back to where they feel they belong.

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