Orient got their league campaign off to the perfect start on Sunday afternoon.
Goals from Hayley Barton, Egle Trezzi, Sophie Le Marchand, Danielle Griffiths and Belen Ripoll Douton secured a convincing win for the O’s against Cambridge City Ladies and Girls at the Mile End Stadium.
After a particularly busy summer O’s manager Chris Brayford named five debutants in his starting lineup with a further three more on the bench and his side almost got off to an ideal start on a bright day in East London.
Sophie Le Marchand, playing as a lone striker, rounded the keeper in the second minute but faced with a tight angle she could only strike the post with her effort and the ball was subsequently cleared by the Cambridge defence for a corner.
However, Orient weren’t to be denied from the resulting set piece as Hayley Barton whipped a ball in with so much ferocity that Dominika Szary in the Cambridge goal and the covering defender on the line were powerless to stop it nestling into the roof of the net.
The home side continued their bright start with both Michelle Young and Cheryl Anderson coming close for the O’s, but they were hit with a sucker punch in the ninth minute when Cambridge’s Karly Tolentino managed to squeeze an equaliser in at the near post.
Orient didn’t let the visitors’ goal disrupt their excellent start though and could have gone ahead once again if Young’s jinking run and ensuing cross hadn’t agonisingly evaded every attacker in red.
After Barton’s opener it was clear she had a set tactic with her in-swinging corners. Two in quick succession mid-way through the first half had Szary beaten all ends up, only to then strike the woodwork each time.
Then in the 25th minute the O’s got their goal. The ball fell to Egle Trezzi 25 yards from goal and she unleashed a fine strike into the top corner to restore her side’s lead.
After Orient’s second, Cambridge then started to settle into the game. ‘keeper Naomi Ogunde did well to keep hold of a header from a Lilywhites corner to maintain her side’s lead going into the interval.
There was a delayed start to the second half and as a result both sides took a little while to get back into their rhythm. Fortunately it was Orient that managed to find theirs first and they won a penalty shortly before the hour mark when Le Marchand rounded the keeper and was clipped before she could get her shot away.
Skipper Danielle Griffiths assumed the responsibility and duly slotted the ball past Szary to give her side a crucial two goal advantage.
From then on, the home side looked started to look ruthless in their attempt to rack up a big score line and began to turn the screw on their opposition, dominating the ball and the chances.
Brayford then began to ring the changes as he brought off Young and Anderson for Kayleigh Xidhas and Ellie Stenning.
In the 74th minute Le Marchand finally got the goal she’d been searching for. A ball played in behind to her caught the Cambridge defence unaware and she calmly skipped past the keeper and finished into the empty net from an acute angle.
The O’s manager then made his final substitution as Barton, after giving her marker a torrid time all afternoon, made way for Belen Ripoll Douton.
Orient were then awarded another penalty for a foul in the box. This time however, Griffiths couldn’t convert. Her spot-kick once again had Szary comfortably beaten but unfortunately it couldn’t beat the post as it cannoned off the woodwork.
Two substitutes then combined for the O’s’ fifth as Ripoll Douton prodded home after Stenning’s effort was well saved by the Cambridge keeper.
Shortly afterwards referee Fabio Roque blew the final whistle which sealed a near perfect opening day for the home side.
The 5-1 victory means that Orient now sit atop the National League Division South East table after match day one and speaking after the game vice captain Le Marchand was understandably pleased with her side’s performance:
“We are delighted with the start we have made to our league campaign this afternoon. We wanted to come out, start fast and send out a message to the rest of the league and I think we’ve done that today by scoring five goals and dominating the game.
It was great to see so many of the new girls make their league debuts today, but we know we have more work to do on integrating them fully into the squad and playing as a more cohesive unit. That will occur naturally with more time together on the pitch and I’m looking forward to seeing how the squad develops and evolves over the course of the season.
We’ll be looking to keep the momentum going as we take on Enfield Town in our next league fixture.”
As Le Marchand says the O’s take on Enfield Town in their next league fixture on September 1st, but before that they face Cambridge United Women in the determining round of the National League Cup next Sunday at the Mile End Stadium.
Orient: Ogunde, Collins, Griffiths, Auguste, Trezzi, Barton (Ripoll Douton, 75), Bastyr, Le Marchand, Young (Stenning, 69), McCann, Anderson (Xidhas, 66)
Unused subs: Ali, Hayles
Goals: Barton (3), Trezzi (25), Griffiths (60), Le Marchand (74), Ripoll Douton (88)
Cambridge: Szary, Leyland, Tomlinson, Flye, Phillips, Fay, Gillies, Castiglione, Shaw, Tolentino, Fitzsimmons
Subs: Penny, Tonks, Reed
Goals: Tolentino (9)
Referee: Fabio Roque