Orient claimed a hard fought point in their first away fixture of the season at Enfield Town on Sunday. Hayley Barton’s first half opener was cancelled out by a goal from Enfield skipper Nuala McKevitt just twenty minutes later in a tight game at the Queen Elizabeth Stadium.
The O’s got the game underway kicking from left to right and got off to a great start. With just 12 minutes on the clock, Barton’s in-swinging corner went straight over Enfield keeper Grace Brooks and into the net to give her side the lead in a not dissimilar fashion to how she did against Cambridge City on the opening day.
From then on Orient continued to pile on the pressure as they looked to add to their early lead. Michelle Young, Otesha Charles and Sophie Le Marchand all had chances that either went just wide or were well saved by Brooks before the half hour mark.
But gradually as the game went on the home side began to get a greater foot hold in the game. First, substitute Tia Bailey fired over on the half volley from close range, then Katherine Long hit a superb long range effort that Naomi Ogunde did well to tip wide for a corner.
However, from the resulting corner Enfield levelled. A wicked delivery dropped just inside the six yard box and after a brief scramble McKevitt managed to prod home to bring her side parity in the 38th minute.
The O’s had a chance to go into the break ahead, after some nice interplay between Barton and Charles led to the former having a strike on goal, though that effort ended up going just past the post and the score remained level heading into the interval.
Chris Brayford’s side started the second period as they ended the first and were extremely unlucky not to be in front just six minutes after the restart. Le Marchand’s shot was spilled by Brooks and the ball dropped onto the line where no one in red could manage to poke it over, before Barton fired wide from just inside the box.
Enfield had their own chance to go ahead ten minutes later, when Long was once again denied by Ogunde at her near-post.
Heading into the closing stages the Towners went close again. Sam Maylon led a swift counter attack and ended up inside the O’s penalty area where she hit a low effort that had Ogunde beaten, but fortunately for Orient it didn’t beat the woodwork and ended up deflecting clear off the post.
That turned out to be the final chance of the game with both sides earning a well battled for point in North London and speaking after the game Orient vice captain Sophie Le Marchand reflected on a tough match for her side:
“I think when we reflect properly on the result next week in training, it will seem like an excellent point gained against a side who are likely to take points off many sides this season. Right now, however, it feels like a big disappointment after such a good start to the season.
We were a much tighter and more compact unit defensively than against Cambridge last weekend, having worked very hard on our defensive shape over the week. However, we are disappointed not to have created more chances in the attacking third over 90 minutes. I think that there are a combination of factors contributing to this. Firstly, we haven’t yet been able to play the same starting XI due to injuries and absences. Secondly, as a team with many new, fresh faces, we are still learning all about each other’s games and perhaps we’re not all on the same wavelength as yet.
This is certainly a big focus for us and we are looking forward to working on this at training in the coming weeks. Now though, we are looking ahead to next Sunday, which sees us take on Norwich at the beautiful Brisbane Road.”
Next up for the O’s is a fixture against Kent Football United on Wednesday evening at the Mile End Stadium, before they take on Norwich City at the Breyer Group Stadium next Sunday.
Orient: Ogunde, Montiel McCann, Griffiths (C), Brown, Auguste, Ali, Stenning, Le Marchand, Young (Ripoll Douton, 89), Barton (Anderson, 65), Charles
Unused Subs: Piira, Hayles
Enfield: Brooks, Slater, Diaz (Mustafa, 46), Re, Smith, Reardon, Southby, McKevitt, Long (C) (Maylon, 76), Lumsden (Bailey, 30), Baker
Unused Sub: Murray
Referee: Tom Cartwright
Pictures – MikeytheTowner