The O’s women’s team hit five without reply against Enfield Town Ladies in the FA Women’s National League on Remembrance Sunday.
Robyn Reardon’s own goal gave Orient the lead on 12 minutes, before two quick-fire strikes from Tara O’Halloran and Hayley Barton gave the O’s a 3-0 cushion at the break. In the second half, Chanel Richards bagged a brace to secure Orient’s biggest victory of the season.
Manager Chris Brayford made three changes to the side who began the 2-2 draw with Ipswich Town Ladies last weekend.
Captain Danielle Griffiths returned to central defence, Katharine Nutman came into central midfield while Richards spear-headed the O’s attack. After a minute’s silence to commemorate Armistice Day, Orient got the game underway on a fresh afternoon at Mile End Stadium.
Inside five minutes, Enfield registered their first attempt on goal when Nuala McKevitt’s long-range strike dipped kindly into the arms of Orient goalkeeper Naomi Ogunde. Moments later, Sasha Kelly came agonisingly close to giving Town the lead when her glancing header was cleared off the goal-line.
However, it was Orient who broke the deadlock with 12 minutes played. Barton drifted inside from the right, curling a teasing ball into the box which Reardon diverted into her own net gifting the O’s an early 1-0 lead.
Sadly, there was a stoppage in play with Enfield goalkeeper Caoimhe O’Reilly forced off after a collision which saw Katherine Long step in between the sticks. Orient had grown into the match gradually with their opening goal providing a much-needed confidence boost.
With half an hour played, the game was lacking flow with a couple of stoppages and several cheap fouls breaking up the game. In spite of this, Enfield threatened on their next attack when Molly Peters blazed her effort over the crossbar.
At the other end, Richards shifted the ball neatly onto her right foot before hitting the bar with a fierce drive. On the rebound, Barton set the ball for Sophie Le Marchand who was denied bravely at point-blank range by Long.
Then, Orient succeeded in doubling their lead two minutes before the break. Barton’s corner dropped kindly for O’Halloran who tucked the ball home from six yards to create a two-goal cushion for the O’s.
Brimming with confidence, Orient carved out a well worked third goal in first half stoppage time. A swift attack saw Richards pick out Le Marchand, who darted into the penalty area before squaring to Barton who timed her run perfectly, slotting home from close range to hand the O’s a commanding 3-0 lead at the break.
It was a fine first half performance from the O’s who got stronger as the game progressed. They were creative and clinical in attack while remaining disciplined and organised in defence.
Enfield got the second half underway, but Orient came flying out of the blocks with a fourth goal on 48 minutes. Richards latched onto a through ball, evading the goalkeeper and slotting calmly into the bottom corner to put the game out of Enfield’s reach.
On 51 minutes, the O’s made their first substitution of the match as Egle Trezzi was replaced by Camila Pescatore. The O’s were looking to keep their foot on the pedal and bolster their goal difference.
However, Enfield were refusing to throw in the towel and asked questions of Ogunde with a looping effort from range which kissed the crossbar on its way out of play. Orient had to be careful not to become complacent with Enfield capable of causing problems on the attack.
Although, the O’s continued their scoring and netted a fifth on 63 minutes. Richards bagged her second of the afternoon with a curling effort beyond Long to secure the victory for Orient.
Moments later, Richards was denied a hat-trick by the foot of the post before Le Marchand’s rebound was ruled out for offside. After 67 minutes, Richards was replaced by Belen Ripoll Douton in Orient’s second change of the afternoon.
The home side made their final change on 78 minutes with Rebecca Hirst replacing Barton who had produced another excellent display. Orient would happily have pushed for further goals, equally they would have been mindful about protecting their clean sheet.
Enfield saw a glimpse of a consolation goal when Hannah Porter cleared only as far as Isabella Agus who blazed her effort over the top. Then, Town were frustratingly denied by the crossbar once more from yet another long-range strike.
After a late spell of pressure from the visitors, the referee’s whistle saw Orient secure their biggest win of the season and a first clean sheet in nine matches.
Shortly after full-time, striker Chanel Richards gave her assessment of the performance and spoke of her delight at getting back on the scoresheet:
“We played well, we stretched them, we passed the ball around well. Our movements, pressing, pressure on the ball, everything that Chris wanted us to do. It was very important (to score twice) especially against Enfield because my dad is an ex-legend! It’s really good to score against them, I scored against them last season and this season I got two goals so I’m happy about that.”
Next week, the O’s welcome Haringey Borough Women to Mile End Stadium in the Capital Cup quarter-finals on Sunday 18th November.