Due to a number of injuries, O’s gaffer Chris Brayford was forced to make several changes for this tie. The injuries particularly effected Orient’s defence and as such Brayford made the switch to a 3-5-2 formation.
The change in system looked to have had a positive effect on the home side, as they began the game brightly.
O’s striker Otesha Charles has been in fine form recently and she had two chances early on. First, she poked wide after being played through, then just a minute later she headed narrowly over from Le Marchand’s cross.
As the first half went on though, a youthful Palace side began to grow into the game and in the 34th minute they were ahead. Eagles striker Aliyeah Forbes, pounced on a mistake as the O’s defence tried to play out from the back and slotted home to give her side the lead.
The score stayed that way going into the break and at half time Brayford abandoned the 3-5-2 reverting to a back four which saw Lareace Thomas make way for Pinja Piira.
However, the switch to a more familiar formation didn’t immediately pay off for the O’s, as goalkeeper Naomi Ogunde had to be called upon to make several vital saves throughout the beginning of the second period.
Though eventually Orient began to take a foothold on the game and they were level in the 71st minute when a low driven corner from Fran Ali was turned in by a Palace defender.
Following the goal, it seemed that the home side began to look more like their usual selves and they had a number of chances to prevent the tie going into extra time. The best of which saw Charles hit the woodwork, shortly after the equaliser.
It wasn’t to be in 90 minutes though and if the O’s were going to go through they would have to go the distance.
Extra time was understandably not packed full of chances with both sides looking a little leggy and it seemed as if we would be heading for penalties.
Until suddenly, with just five minutes remaining a mix up in the Palace defence presented Le Marchand a golden opportunity to give her side the win, as she calmly finished into an empty net to put the O’s in the hat for the next round.
Reflecting on a night that had certainly not been vintage for her side but had ultimately seen them get the job done, Le Marchand said:
“Beset with a few illness and injury woes, we were forced into beginning the game in an unfamiliar 3-5-2 formation. Despite the fact that it was a positive and valuable experience trialling a new system, after a disappointing first half, we changed the shape to a 4-3-3.
This formation changed the game for us in the second half and we were able to exert much more pressure on the opposing team in the attacking third. We were eventually able to convert our greater attacking threat into an equaliser and took the game into extra time.
I think our fitness, mental resilience and greater experience helped us to overcome Palace with just five minutes of extra time remaining.
I would like to mention Naomi, for once again keeping in the game with some outstanding saves. Additionally, a special shout out to Michelle who played superbly and with so much composure in a position that she was unaccustomed to playing.”
Next up for the O’s is another cup tie, where they’ll take on Portsmouth in the rearranged WNL Cup fixture at the Mile End Stadium on Sunday.
Orient: Ogunde, Thomas (Piira 45), Brown, Auguste, Young, Ali, McCann, Holmback (Hirst 102), Le Marchand, Stenning (Barton 74), Charles
Bookings: Stenning (56), Auguste (85)
Goals: OG (71), Le Marchand (114)
Palace: Greenwood, Lock, Warrior, Treacey, Parker, Robinson, Humes, Searle, Jacobs, Lockett, Forbes
Subs: Searle, Swaby, Price
Goal: Forbes (34)