Two first half strikes were enough to see the O’s Women’s team claim their first away league victory of the season with a solid display against Ipswich Town on Sunday.
Orient were looking to build on their impressive thumping of Enfield Town last weekend, whilst Ipswich came into the match looking to maintain their unbeaten start to the campaign.
Manager Chris Brayford made four changes but continued with the 4-4-2 formation that has served the team well in recent weeks. Hannah Porter and Vanessa Wilson came into defence, with Connie Montiel-McCann and Lisa Holmbeck pairing up in central midfield for the first time.
Ipswich, who sat in second place before kick-off, had the first chance when Sian Fagg saw her fierce drive fly wide of the post. Minutes later, Natasha Thomas came close as her volley from inside the box was blocked on the line.
On eight minutes, Leanne Smith in the Ipswich goal was penalised for handling outside the area. Hayley Barton forced the ‘keeper into a save from the resulting free kick, before Sophie Le Marchand saw her rebound deflected behind for a corner.
Orient were yet to experience a sustained spell of possession, but were gradually gathering momentum and continued to see chances fall their way. Holmbeck volleyed over, before Le Marchand came agonisingly close to converting from Barton’s cross.
It was the O’s who eventually seized the initiative, breaking the deadlock on 24 minutes. Danielle Griffiths corner came out to Holmbeck on the edge of the box, who fired a low strike beyond a helpless Smith to give the visitors a 1-0 lead.
Orient had posed a threat from corners, and on 31 minutes they succeeded in doubling their lead when Porter rose highest to meet Griffiths dangerous delivery, flicking the ball towards Richards whose wonderful overhead kick found the net from close range.
Orient had been organised and disciplined in formation, but despite taking time to settle into their rhythm, grew in confidence after obtaining a two-goal cushion. Richards, whose brilliantly taken goal had put daylight between the sides, was sadly forced off just before half time and replaced by Sárka Stryhalova.
Ipswich knew the importance of scoring the next goal, though almost fell further behind after the break when Griffiths corner was diverted onto the post. On 55 minutes, Orient made their second change of the match with Belen Ripoll Douton coming on for Ella Meadowcroft upfront.
The hosts almost pulled a goal back, only for an alert Naomi Ogunde to smother the ball at the feet of Zoe Cossey. At the opposite end, Orient’s search for a third goal rumbled on when Stryhalova’s strike was charged down, before Le Marchand blazed over on the rebound.
On 63 minutes, Stryhalova could have secured the points for Orient when she poked the ball past Smith, and watched it roll towards goal before a last-ditch clearance kept Ipswich in the game. The O’s had been a nuisance from corners, with another falling to Holmbeck whose low shot was cleared off the line.
Ipswich’s best chance came on 68 minutes, Cossey turned her marker before curling a crisp effort off the crossbar.
Orient were well in control of the game, and keen to see out the match with their clean sheet intact. Holmbeck, who was rightly named Orient’s Player of the Match after an excellent performance, volleyed into the side-netting before making way for Chloe McNee in the O’s final change on 76 minutes.
McNee was quick to make her presence felt and almost made an immediate impact, forcing Smith into a save with a long-range strike. The ‘keeper could only palm the ball back into the danger zone, but there was nobody in an Orient shirt to pounce on the loose ball.
After a strong attacking showing, the scoreline could have been far greater. However, Orient would be happy not only with a second consecutive clean sheet, but crucially their first league win on the road this season.
Speaking after the game manager Chris Brayford said; “I was very pleased with the result, it was a good performance on a difficult away trip against a good side. We had to make a couple of changes and I was very pleased with how those who came in performed, Lisa winning player of the match was thoroughly deserved. It was the kind of result that bodes well for how we can do in the division. We won the game, kept a clean sheet, got three points and I think we can cause a lot of sides trouble.”
Captain Danielle Griffiths said; “Today was a great example of our strength in depth in the squad. We put in a great performance, same as we have in the previous two weeks, with a few changes and a couple of people making their debuts which was great. Hopefully we have sent a message to the rest of the league in the last few weeks that we are here to be competitive.”
After scoring eleven goals without reply in their previous two league matches, Orient will be looking to continue this impressive form when they travel to Luton Town on Sunday.