After a week to recover from the bitterly disappointing end to Sunday's Papa Johns Trophy final at Wembley, Sutton enter the last month of the EFL season with seven games left in which to claim a Sky Bet League Two play-off place and move a step closer to a possible return to the National Stadium at the end of May.
Without a league game in the last two weeks, U's have fallen to 11th place in the division, but are still only eight points behind third placed Port Vale and, with a game in hand over a number of the sides involved in the promotion race, still very much in the hunt.
The last month begins with the only London derby of the League Two season as Leyton Orient come to the VBS Community Stadium, almost exactly three years since their last visit saw them come from behind to win 2-1 and take a step closer to the National League championship and a return to the EFL. The crowd that day was over 3,300, and U's will hope to match or even exceed that for a game against one of the in-form sides in the division.
U's lost 4-1 at Orient in November, and while the margin of victory flattered the O's, there would have been few at that game who would have predicted the struggles that they would go through over the next three months which saw them flirt with a return to the National League and part company with manager Kenny Jackett. Under Richie Wellens, though, they have steadied the ship and lost just once in their last nine games, a run which, while too late to involve them in the promotion picture, has made sure that fears of relegation have been allayed.
They have won three away games this season, fewer than any side except the current bottom two Stevenage and Scunthorpe, and at one stage went thirteen away games without a win between a 3-1 success at Bristol Rovers in mid-September and a win at Harrogate on the night that U's were bringing maximum points back from Oldham. Eleven of their twenty away games have ended all square.
Forward Ruel Sotiriou has just been voted the Sky Bet League Two Player of the Month for March, and with Harry Smith, whose spectacular volley in November's meeting won the Goal of the Month award, and former Sutton striker Aaron Drinan keen to impress against his former club, U's defence could face a testing afternoon.
Whether that defence will include Ben Goodliffe, who limped off with severe cramp at Wembley, will be decided on Saturday morning, while Will Randall also suffered a leg injury late in the final, but with Jon Barden and Ali Smith now returned to training U's have just about a full squad going in to thei last month of the season, and will hope to extend their good home form which has seen them unbeaten in the league at the VBS since the end of October.
Referee Rob Lewis is making his second visit of the season from Shropshire, having previously been in the middle for the 3-2 win over Colchester in January.
Tickets are available to buy on line for Sutton supporters here and as always we would recommend buying on line before setting out for the game. If you do need to buy in person on the day, please make sure you allow plenty of time to buy your ticket and enter the ground, aiming to arrive at least an hour before kick off. We are expecting another large crowd on Saturday, with Orient having sold out their allocation.
If you can't get to the game, we will have an audio commentary through our iFollow service, and supporters without a valid monthly or seasonal pass can buy a pass for £2.50 here, while match programmes are available to order on line to be sent out after the game. Click here to buy yours.
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