A clinical second half display helped the Orient women’s team overcome a stubborn Norwich City side to achieve their fourth consecutive league victory on Sunday afternoon.
Orient came into the match on the back of a 4-0 win at Luton Town last weekend, three points which moved them up to second place, whilst Norwich lost 5-0 to local rivals Ipswich Town in their previous match.
Manager Chris Brayford made one change to the side that started at Luton, with captain Danielle Griffiths replacing Vanessa Wilson in defence as the O’s lined up in a familiar 4-4-2 formation.
Norwich began the match with purpose and intensity, looking lively as they applied early pressure on the O’s, who appeared slightly careless in possession in the opening stages.
However, Orient had the first notable chance of the match on seven minutes. Belen Ripoll Douton played a clever through ball into the path of strike partner Sárka Stryhalova, whose lofted effort over Norwich goalkeeper Eilish Brogan lacked enough power to find its way into the net.
Five minutes later, the hosts registered their first attempt on goal when Chelsea Garrett was the first to call Orient keeper Naomi Ogunde into action with a left footed strike after cutting in from the right.
It was the O’s who broke the deadlock on 17 minutes with Ripoll Douton providing another lovely through ball for Sophie Le Marchand down the right, whose trickery created an opening from which she drilled a fierce strike beyond Brogan to give Orient a 1-0 lead.
Despite Orient’s goal, Norwich continued to show confidence and belief which paid off when they found an equaliser on 21 minutes. After winning a free-kick from distance, Millie Daviss scooped a high ball towards goal which dipped under the crossbar and crept over the line despite Ogunde’s best attempts to claw it to safety.
Norwich were clearly buoyed by their equaliser whilst Orient, despite taking the lead, were lacking composure and trying to force the issue when options were unavailable. Although, the O’s almost regained the lead when Hayley Barton showed great footwork to evade two Norwich defenders on the right before firing into the side netting.
Chances were beginning to flow as half time approached, with Norwich’s Garrett striking straight at Ogunde, before Le Marchand volleyed wide from Barton’s well delivered free-kick at the other end. At the break, Norwich would be pleased with the scoreline after a positive showing whilst Orient were left to reflect on a below par first 45 minutes compared to recent weeks.
The O’s came out early for the second half, and appeared a different team taking just five minutes to grab their second. Connie Montiel-McCann picked the ball up on the right and played a delightful ball into the path of Lisa Holmback, who swept a crisp right footed strike past Brogan from the edge of the box.
With a revived confidence about their play, Orient extended the lead to 3-1 on 56 minutes. Barton was brought down in the penalty area after more quick footwork, but the referee allowed play to continue and Stryhalova swiftly dispatched the loose ball into the bottom right corner.
Still, Norwich refused to give up and almost replied instantly when Garrett’s deep cross crept just wide of the far post past the outstretched legs of Daviss.
On 61 minutes, Orient were handed the opportunity of a fourth goal from the spot when Barton was tripped inside the area. Griffiths stepped up and confidently smashed the ball down the middle to give Orient a 4-1 lead.
After regrouping at the break, some clinical finishing had allowed the O’s to reassert their dominance on the game and put daylight between the two sides. With 20 minutes to play they made a double change, with Barton and Ripoll Douton making way for Chloe McNee and Kayleigh Xiohas, who was making her first appearance of the season.
Minutes later, Norwich were handed a slim lifeline when they too were awarded a penalty after Naomi Ogunde was adjudged to have brought down a Norwich attacker. She received a booking for her troubles, and despite going the right way was unable to deny Charlotte Broad who slotted low into the bottom right corner.
With a 4-2 lead, Orient quashed any chance of a Norwich fightback when they added a fifth goal with 10 minutes remaining. Stryhalova’s initial effort was saved by Brogan one-on-one, before rebounding back off the Orient striker who grabbed her brace from close range to put the O’s 5-2 ahead.
On 83 minutes, Kathryn Canavan replaced Lisa Holmback in Orient’s final change as the visitors moved through the gears and created a flurry of chances. Stryhalova had two opportunities for a hat-trick whilst Montiel-McCann, McNee and Le Marchand all went close before the referee called time on another successful outing for the O’s.
Speaking after the match, captain Danielle Griffiths said: “After the first half in which we were less than our best, it was a good 5-2 victory away from home. Norwich were strong, physical opposition and put up a good fight but it was important for us to get three points in a week where we’ve got two further games, including the FA Cup next week.”
Orient are back in league action on tomorrow (Wednesday) night for their first midweek fixture of the season, with Haringey Borough the visitors to Mile End Stadium for a 7.45pm kick off.