Orient continued their fine start to the season with a resounding 5-0 victory over Norwich at the Breyer Group Stadium on Sunday. Two from Hayley Barton and a Sophie Le Marchand hat trick ensured the O’s extended their unbeaten run at the beginning of the new campaign to four games.
In the plush surroundings of the Breyer Group Stadium, Orient almost got off to a flyer when Le Marchand played a ball into the box which Francesca Ali tried to steer into the net with her heel. Unfortunately, for the home side her audacious effort went just wide of the far post.
It was a positive start for both sides in E10, with Norwich coming close nine minutes in when Megan Todd headed over from an in-swinging free kick.
However, it was the O’s who broke the deadlock five minutes later. Otesha Charles played a ball in behind that found Le Marchand, and the winger took all the time afforded to her by the Canaries defence to calmly slot home and give her side an early lead.
The visitors could then have been level in the 23rd minute but for the heroics of keeper Naomi Ogunde. After a corner dropped loose inside the six yard box, the O’s goalie dived in bravely at the feet of players in yellow to parry the ball away to safety.
Just before half time it appeared that something started to click for Orient’s front line as they searched for a second goal.
First, a ball over the top found Charles, who rounded the on rushing keeper but was denied the opportunity to square the ball to a teammate by a superb last ditch sliding tackle from a Norwich defender.
Then in trying to clear from that situation the away side gave away a free kick. Barton whipped a teasing ball across the face of goal which just needed a touch from anyone to divert it into the net, though agonisingly it went just wide after evading everyone in Orient red and Norwich yellow.
Moments before the half time whistle, the O’s threatened once again, Charles met a Le Marchand cross at the near post but was denied by a fine stop from Norwich keeper Hope Armstrong.
Orient started the second period where they left off at the end of the first by coming close once again. Allison McCann picked up a loose ball from a corner and drove into the box; she then hit a fierce shot which flashed past Armstrong at the near post.
Just after the hour mark, the visitors reminded the O’s that despite the home side’s dominance they were very much still in this game. Keunna Dill shot from a tight angle after getting into the box with a jinking run, but her effort didn’t trouble Ogunde as it rippled the side netting.
Shortly afterwards, Orient were left scratching their head as to how they weren’t two in front as Armstrong pulled off a superb save to deny Charles at point blank range.
Though just five minutes later the O’s did have their two goal cushion, Le Marchand directed Barton’s corner into the net to give her side the breathing space they’d been searching for.
And in the 80th minute Orient had a third, Le Marchand and Barton linked up once again as the former squared for the latter to effectively put the game to bed.
From then on the O’s began to ran riot and they scored a superb fourth five minutes later. Danielle Griffiths played a magnificent ball over the top and into the path of Le Marchand, who cut inside leaving Norwich defenders in her wake before unleashing a powerful strike that ended up in the roof of the net to seal her hat trick.
In the early weeks of the season Barton has made a habit out of scoring direct from in-swinging corners and just to round things off she pulled out her party piece once again, as her set piece went straight over Armstrong and into the far corner to net her second and Orient’s fifth.
Following the match skipper Danielle Griffiths was understandably delighted by not only the attacking display but also the defence, which she marshals, keeping their first clean sheet of the season saying:
“It’s a fantastic result, 5-0 at home in front of our fans at the Breyer Group Stadium. We’ve been building on our previous performances and I think today we really showed what we can do.”
When asked about the goal scorers and the manner of their strikes she responded:
“Sophie did amazing in front of goal, she’s always a threat but to get a hat trick this early on in the season is hopefully only going to build her confidence and they were three great goals. Also Hayley’s delivery is amazing and always has been, so she’s always a threat from those situations.”
Next up for the O’s is a trip to Stevenage next Sunday, before they head to West London to face Actonians on September 22nd.
Orient: Ogunde, Montiel (Collins, 70), Brown (Bastyr, 53), Griffiths, Anderson, McCann, Ali, Stenning (Young, 75), Le Marchand, Barton
Unused Subs: Trezzi, Holmback
Goals: Le Marchand (13, 67, 85), Barton (80, 89)
Norwich: Armstrong, Robson, Nixon, Durrant, Todd, McDonald, Cullum, George, Cook, Collins, Dill
Subs: Jarvis, Cobb, Desborough
Referee: Grant Conway
By Brendan Pitcher.