The O’s continued their exceptional start to the season with a 3-0 win over AFC Basildon at the Mile End Stadium on Sunday. Goals from Sophie Le Marchand, Paige Anderson-James and Otesha Charles, plus a penalty save from Naomi Ogunde, ensured Orient picked up their fourth consecutive win and extended their unbeaten start to seven matches.
Basildon came into this game in good form having not lost in their last three outings and as such started the game well.
15 minutes in, the visitor’s came very close to taking the lead. A delivery into the box was spilled by Ogunde, Kelly Wealthall had two attempts to try and prod home, but couldn’t manage to after her first effort hit the woodwork and her second was well blocked by a mass of O’s bodies on the goal-line.
Orient grew into the game however, and striker Charles, had a couple of very good chances to fire her side ahead going into the interval.
The first was all of her own making, with half an hour on the clock she received the ball with her back to goal just outside the area, she then swiveled and produced a powerful effort which Charlotte Bolland in the Basildon goal did excellently to turn around the post for a corner.
Then just moments before the break the O’s countered quickly from their opposition’s corner. Charles faced up one on one with the away side’s left back Alex Bailess and beat her for pace, she then rounded the keeper and hit a shot towards goal only for Bailess to recover superbly and divert her effort onto the post to keep the scores level going into half time.
Almost immediately after the restart, Orient suffered a setback when Ogunde brought down Wealthall in the box. The O’s keeper redeemed herself brilliantly though by keeping out Grace Gillard’s driven penalty with a strong hand.
Following that penalty miss the home side seemed to grow in confidence as they began to get a real strangle hold on the game for the first time.
Ria Collins, Michelle Young and Charles all came close with chances, before Le Marchand eventually broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute.
Charles and Le Marchand were left two on one with a covering Basildon defender, working it between themselves until the latter broke through on goal. With a lot of time on her hands to plot where she wanted to place the ball, the O’s skipper for the day, kept her composure and slotted the ball home to give her side the lead.
Just prior to the opener, manager Chris Brayford had brought on Anderson-James for Young and the striker wasted no time in making an impact off the bench. The ball got played into her on the edge of the box and she produced a fine finish to double her side’s advantage in the 80th minute.
With Basildon now committing bodies forward in an attempt to get their side back into the game, the O’s nicked a third when Charles latched onto a long kick from Ogunde and deftly dinked it over the on-rushing keeper to put the result beyond any doubt.
The margin of victory perhaps flattered Orient slightly, but it’s a testament to their fitness levels and ruthless nature that they were able to put Basildon to the sword late on.
The result means that the O’s are now level on points at the top of the table with Billericay and Ipswich, and speaking after the game Le Marchand was quick to praise the character of her side:
“After what can only really be described as a disastrously bad first half, I am extremely proud of the guts, determination and team spirit the girls showed to totally turn the game around in the second half.
We were extremely lucky to go in 0-0 at half time and I think it took a spectacular penalty save from Naomi Ogunde early in the second half to give us the kick up the backside that we really needed. From that moment onwards, we hit them with wave upon wave of pressure and it was only really a matter of time before we made the breakthrough.
I think we learnt a lot about ourselves as a team today. We learnt that we are fighters, we are resilient and that we have a growing team spirit that will only get stronger as the season progresses.”
Next up for Orient is a trip to Oxfordshire on Sunday to take on Abingdon United in the Second Qualifying Round of the F.A Cup.
Orient: Ogunde, Collins (Thomas, 85), Brown, Bastyr, Anderson, Trezzi, Young (Anderson-James, 69), Barton, Stenning, Le Marchand, Charles
Goals: Le Marchand (72), Anderson- James (80), Charles (84)
Basildon: Bolland, Rhodes, Gillard, Debell, Bailess, Horn, Adams, Abela, Binding, Turner, Wealthall