The O’s women’s team booked their place in the SSE Women’s FA Cup First Round with a clinical attacking display against Billericay Town at Brisbane Road on Sunday.
Orient lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with manager Chris Brayford making one change to the side that started against Haringey Borough in midweek. Connie Montiel-McCann made way for Vanessa Wilson, for whom the game had extra significance with Billericay being her former side.
This was the first time that Orient had graced the turf at Brisbane Road this season, and they were welcomed by a sizeable crowd who had come down to show their support on FA Cup weekend.
Orient came out of the blocks quickly and took the lead with just four minutes played. Belen Ripoll Douton flicked on Hayley Barton’s cross which dropped to Sophie Le Marchand who headed past Billericay keeper Robyn Strauss from the centre of the goal.
On seven minutes, the O’s doubled their advantage. The Billericay defence failed to clear Barton’s corner, with Chloe McNee reacting sharply to tap in her second goal in as many games from close-range.
It had been a superb start to the game for Orient, with two early goals putting them on the front foot. They looked threatening every time they went forward, with Barton and Le Marchand getting plenty of joy in the wide areas.
Barton was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet herself when she saw her long-range effort come back off the crossbar after winning the ball in midfield. The O’s were on top, looking confident with and without the ball as Billericay rarely threatened Naomi Ogunde’s goal.
However, the visitors did have their best chance of the match on 18 minutes, when captain Lindsey Morgan curled a long-range free kick over the wall only to be denied by the crossbar.
After a quiet ten minute spell, Orient scored their third of the match with half an hour gone. Ripoll Douton slipped a delightful pass into the path of Le Marchand who coolly slotted the ball beyond Strauss to put the O’s in cruise control.
At the break, the Orient players walked off to a rapture of applause after an impressive first half display. Two goals inside the first ten minutes set the O’s on their way, with the third giving Billericay a mountain to climb in the second half.
Just two minutes after the restart, Orient added a fourth to all but seal their place in the next round. Barton whipped in a dangerous corner that was met by Wilson who cushioned the ball home from close range against the club she spent ten years with.
The O’s were out of sight when they hit a fifth on 49 minutes. Barton notched her third assist of the match, picking out the run of Le Marchand at the back post who nodded low into the bottom corner to claim her hat trick.
Much like recent weeks, Orient continued to show their clinical streak and grabbed a sixth goal on 56 minutes. Ripoll Douton played a perfectly weighted ball into the path of Le Marchand who audaciously chipped Strauss to bag her fourth goal of the game.
Ripoll Douton came close to scoring herself near the hour mark when she lifted the ball over Strauss only to be denied by Rachel Armstrong’s last-ditch goal line clearance.
On 68 minutes, Orient scored their seventh and final goal. A corner caused confusion in the Billericay area leaving the ball to drop for Egle Trezzi who fired low into the bottom right corner.
With 20 minutes remaining, the O’s made a double change as Ripoll Douton and Wilson were replaced by Sárka Stryhalova and Montiel-McCann. Soon after, Francesca Cagetti made way for Hannah Porter who joined captain Danielle Griffiths at centre back.
Stryhalova almost made an instant impact only to see her looping effort at the by-line tipped behind for a corner, before Barton fizzed a fierce drive just over the bar. Then, Barton and Le Marchand combined superbly in a flowing forward move before Stryhalova forced a good save from Strauss at point blank range.
At full time, the O’s left the field to a standing ovation from the supporters who had been treated to an excellent all-round performance. The draw for the first round proper was made on Monday, with Orient being handed an away tie at Ipswich Town Ladies.
Speaking after the match about playing at Brisbane Road, captain Danielle Griffiths said; “It’s always a great occasion. It’s a really nice environment, nice big pitch which suits us and great to have lots of support which really helps cheer you on when you’re playing the game.
"I was really happy that we got two early goals which helped us relax into the game. I’m pleased we are being so clinical, we’re not always going to have so many chances so to make sure we are putting them away when we get the opportunity is important. It’s good to see so many people on the scoresheet.
"We are very grateful for all the support we get. It’s a really great feeling when you are hearing lots of people screaming and shouting for you and it’s really good for the girls to get a run out on Orient’s pitch.”
With four goals to her name and another excellent individual display, Sophie Le Marchand said; “I’m really delighted that we could put on a good show at such a great venue. It was really nice how many people came to watch us, we’ve had amazing support from the Club particularly in the last couple of years. I’m delighted we could score a lot of goals, play some great football, and they (the fans) had a good time.”
Match highlights from Sunday's victory can be seen here.
Orient return to league action against Actonians this Sunday, which will once again be played at Brisbane Road.
The fixture will be the second of three fixtures played in E10 this season, with the third due to be played in the New Year.