Hayley Barton’s stoppage-time strike salvaged a point for the O’s women’s team against Ipswich Town Ladies in the FA Women’s National League on Sunday.
Goals early in each half from Zoe Cossey and Paige Wakefield put Ipswich in cruise control. With ten minutes left, Egle Trezzi pulled a goal back for Orient after a thunderous free-kick from distance, before Barton curled in a wonderful equaliser with virtually the final kick.
Manager Chris Brayford made four changes to the side who started the 3-0 defeat at Cambridge United in the FA Women’s National League Cup last week.
Avril Kilkelly and Kathryn Canavan occupied the full-back positions, Hayley Barton returned to the right flank while Camila Pescatore earned her first start for the club in attacking midfield.
Ipswich, in their aluminous orange strip, got the game underway on a pleasantly mild afternoon at Mile End Stadium. It was Orient who enjoyed plenty of possession in the opening exchanges with Barton looking to cause problems from the right.
On eight minutes, Orient saw a glimpse of goal when Pescatore did well to pick out Tara O’Halloran whose delivery trickled across the face of goal with nobody in a red shirt there to capitalise.
However, the visitors broke the deadlock with ten minutes played courtesy of Cossey. She dropped her shoulder and skipped past Hannah Porter before stroking the ball beyond O’s keeper Naomi Ogunde to give Ipswich a 0-1 lead.
Despite a positive start, the O’s found themselves behind as the clock ticked towards the twenty-minute mark. They were yet to create a clear-cut opportunity and needed to improve their decision making in the final third.
With twenty-five minutes played, Ipswich could have doubled their lead. Sophie Welton split the O’s defence with a neat back heel for Toni-Anne Wayne who fired her shot into the side netting after a good attacking move.
At the other end, the O’s were searching for an equaliser and came close when Pescatore found Sophie Le Marchand, she got the ball out of her feet before drilling a teasing shot just over the crossbar.
Shortly after, Le Marchand was wreaking havoc down the left side when she burst towards the by-line, drilling a fierce ball across goal which was turned behind for a corner that came to nothing.
At the break, Orient were still very much in this game but would be disappointed with certain aspects of their play. Ipswich were successful in protecting their lead, and the O’s would need greater creativity if they were going to break down the visiting defence.
Orient got the second half underway, but it was Ipswich who doubled their advantage just three minutes after the restart. The O’s failed to deal with a corner from the right which found its way through to Wakefield who calmly nodded the ball past Ogunde.
On 56 minutes, the O’s made their first change of the afternoon with Chanel Richards replacing Lisa Fulgence in a straight swap upfront. The home side were pushing for a goal that would provide a much-needed lifeline with half an hour remaining.
Orient were forcing Ipswich to sit deeper as the half progressed. Pescatore was set free down the right side but drove her strike straight at visiting goalkeeper Sian Fagg. Meanwhile, Orient’s second change saw Rebecca Hirst replace Canavan before Kilkelly fizzed a left-footed effort wide of the post.
With fifteen minutes to play, Trezzi and Barton combined wonderfully with the former letting fly from distance and seeing the effort pushed behind by Fagg. Then, Le Marchand initiated a give-and-go with Barton but Fagg was equal to it once more.
Finally, after much persistence, the O’s found the net thanks to a stunning long-range free-kick from Trezzi which flew into the top corner to setup a tasty finale. With one last throw of the dice, Kilkelly made way for Belen Ripoll Douton in the O’s third and final change.
Then, the O’s thought they had completed the comeback when Le Marchand slotted into the bottom corner only to be denied by the offside flag. Moments later, she laid the ball into space for Barton whose effort was comfortably dealt with by Fagg.
In stoppage time, Orient salvaged a point with the final action of the match. Barton collected the ball on the edge of the box and curled a delicious strike into the far corner sparking wild celebrations amongst the home faithful.
After the match, hero of the hour Hayley Barton gave an honest assessment of the O’s performance:
“It was definitely a mixed performance today, bit of a match of two halves. There are a lot of areas to work on but a lot of positives to take away, especially in the last thirty minutes. I think our play was great, we really started to find our game and our attacking play was really coming together. I think we are unlucky to not come away with the win but there are things to build on.”
Next, the O’s welcome Enfield Town Ladies to Mile End Stadium in the FA Women’s National League this Sunday 11th November with kick-off at 2pm.