The O’s women’s team secured their first victory of the New Year when they defeated Luton Town Ladies 3-0 in the FA Women’s National League on Sunday.
Orient came into the match sitting fourth in South East Division One, meanwhile Luton arrived in the capital at the foot of the table.
Manager Chris Brayford made three changes to the side who began the 2-3 defeat against Stevenage Ladies last weekend.
Hannah Porter returned at the heart of defence, while Egle Trezzi and Lisa Holmback replaced the absent Katharine Nutman and Tara O’Halloran in midfield.
Luton got the game underway on a chilly afternoon at Mile End, however Orient came out of the blocks with purpose. Sophie Le Marchand crossed for Chanel Richards whose glancing header from an offside position was parried away by Luton goalkeeper Kezia Hassall.
At the opposite end, the O’s were caught napping momentarily. Aurora Ryan beat Francesca Cagetti to a bouncing ball, racing through on goal before dragging her effort wide of Naomi Ogunde’s near post.
Despite a quick start, Orient had failed to cause the Luton defence any further problems with fifteen minutes played. The visitors were growing into the match with Zara Carroll curling a teasing free-kick into the grateful clutches of Ogunde.
Then, the O’s managed to break the deadlock with a swift counter attack on 21 minutes.
Le Marchand drilled the ball against the near post and watched it role across the goal line, before Grace Stewart turned the ball into her own net with an attempted clearance.
Inspired by their opener, Orient went in search of a second goal with half an hour played. Hayley Barton’s inviting cross was met by Richards whose header was deflected wide, before Le Marchand saw two efforts in quick succession thwarted by an alert Hassall.
Sadly, the home side were forced into their first change of the afternoon. Barton, who picked up a knock earlier in the match, was unable to continue and replaced by Camila Pescatore ten minutes before the interval.
On the stroke of half-time, Orient should have doubled their lead. A corner was flicked to the back post for Cagetti who struck the woodwork with a header before Trezzi’s rebound was gathered by Hassall.
However, the O’s succeeded in snatching a spectacular second during first half stoppage time. Chloe McNee audaciously let fly from just inside her own half and watched the ball sail into the net giving Orient a two-goal cushion at the break.
Orient got the second half underway, but it was Luton who should have halved their deficit. Erica Byron latched onto an aerial pass before threading the ball into Ryan whose effort came crashing back off the post and away from danger.
On the hour mark, Luton were looking to threaten once more as Carroll struck a swerving free-kick from distance that was well held by Ogunde. The O’s would need another goal to put the game beyond the visitors who were holding their own.
Soon, the O’s struck that much needed third thanks to Pescatore who netted her first goal for the club on 65 minutes. The first-half substitute burst down the right wing, driving into the penalty area before firing past Hassall to put Orient in cruise control.
With a quarter of an hour remaining, Orient made their second change of the afternoon with Lisa Fulgence replacing Richards in a like-for-like swap upfront. This was quickly followed by their final substitution which saw Holmback make way for Suaila Cardoso Queni.
In the closing stages, the O’s remained focus on securing a clean sheet as Luton went looking for a consolation goal. A free-kick dropped kindly for Ryan on the edge of the box, but she directed her effort harmlessly wide of the target.
Orient rode a late wave of Luton pressure to cap off a professional performance. The referee’s whistle secured a vital three points for the O’s which sees them move up to third place in the South East Division One table.
After the match, captain Danielle Griffiths was pleased with the result but expressed room for improvement in certain areas:
“I think it was a great three points. It was definitely needed after last week’s disappointment, so it was really pleasing that we bounced back straight away. Three good goals, a clean sheet which is a welcome change to recent weeks.
“Overall, it was a good performance. I think there are things we can work on, certainly staying on the front foot for as long as possible throughout the game. When we’re going ahead, teams are tending to throw the kitchen sink at us. That’s to be expected so we need to manage those games out.”
Next, the O’s travel to face Cambridge United Women in the FA Women’s National League on Sunday 20th January with kick-off at 14:00.