Orient came into the match on the back of a 3-1 defeat to Cardiff City in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup last weekend. Meanwhile, their opponents Denham ran out 5-0 winners against bottom club Haringey Borough last time around.
Manager Chris Brayford made two changes to the team who began at Cardiff, but stuck with a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation. Naomi Ogunde returned in goal, whilst Chloe McNee came back into midfield meaning Vanessa Wilson and Connie Montiel-McCann dropped to the bench.
It was a scrappy start to proceedings on a cold afternoon, as both sides struggled to find their feet on a difficult playing surface. It was the hosts who came closest to scoring first, Kora Howes pounced on a loose ball in the area before angling her shot wide of the far post.
Orient’s first meaningful attempt on goal came with nine minutes played, Lisa Holmback controlled well on the edge of the box before flashing a right footed effort wide of the right-hand post.
On 20 minutes, Orient came close to opening the scoring in fortunate circumstances. Egle Trezzi directed a dipping shot in front of goal, with the bounce almost deceiving Denham goalkeeper Elizabeth Rose who reacted smartly to tip the ball over the crossbar.
On the half hour mark, Denham could have taken the lead when Ogunde smothered the ball at the feet of striker Emma Bebbington who saw it bounce back off her shins and trickle past the post. It had been a tight opening 30 minutes with few clear-cut chances, as Orient saw more of the ball but failed to establish a rhythm to their play.
In a subtle tactical switch, Belen Ripoll Douton and Sophie Le Marchand switched wings and soon after the O’s took the lead on 38 minutes. Sárka Stryhalova chased down McNee’s through pass, before picking out Ripoll Douton who cooly slotted home from six-yards out.
With the momentum in Orient’s favour, they swiftly doubled their lead two minutes before the break. Leyre Bastyr glided down the left side before standing up a cross to the back post where Sophie Le Marchand was waiting to nod home from close range.
Orient had not been at their best during the first half, but switching Ripoll Douton and Le Marchand to opposite flanks appeared to work wonders with the pair notching a goal each to put the O’s in command at the break.
The O’s began the second half with more purpose and pace about their passing. They could have had a third goal minutes after the restart, but Ripoll Douton’s precise finish was ruled out for offside.
As the hour mark approached the hosts then clipped the top of the crossbar from a free-kick, before Orient made their first change with Ripoll Douton being replaced by Kayleigh Xidhas on 64 minutes.
Orient then made their second change of the afternoon with 15 minutes remaining as Connie Montiel-McCann came on for McNee.
With a few minutes left, Orient’s final substitution saw Stryhalova make way for Makesha MacFarlane who was making her first team debut after impressing for the development squad.
Hannah Porter was rightly awarded player of the match after a solid display at centre back, but as a team the O’s put in a hearty performance to earn a clean sheet and three vital points.
Speaking after the match, midfielder Egle Trezzi gave her thoughts on the performance; “It wasn’t the best one, but we showed that if we are disciplined and we keep our shape, even if our passing wasn’t that sharp, if we keep the shape and keep working hard then the result will come.
“Personally, I don’t think I was on top of my game today but I made sure I kept the shape and broke down the play but again not so sharp on the passes. It was really hard conditions on the pitch as well, it was really bouncy and hard to judge where the ball was going to go but we will take the result.”
Orient have a busy week ahead of them and are back in league action on Tuesday night when they travel to Haringey Borough for a 7.45pm kick off.