The O’s women’s team defeated Norwich City Ladies 4-1 in the FA Women’s National League with a good crowd present at The Breyer Group Stadium on Sunday.
Hayley Barton’s brace, Suaila Cardoso Queni’s finish and Alice Parker’s own goal did the damage, before Chelsea Garrett netted a late consolation for the Canaries.
Manager Chris Brayford named the same eleven who began the 3-1 victory over AFC Wimbledon Ladies on March 13th.
Orient got the game underway on a glorious afternoon at The Breyer Group Stadium, kicking from left to right dawning their brand new all-red kit sponsored by Kick It Out. The match was in association with the charity which tackles racism and discrimination in the game.
With a good crowd in attendance, Orient started brightly when Cardoso Queni squared for Sophie Le Marchand who helped the ball on to Lisa Holmback, but her strike was beaten away by Hope Armstrong in the Norwich goal.
After 20 minutes, Cardoso Queni found herself through on goal and was denied at the first attempt by Armstrong before seeing her rebound, which was destined for the bottom corner, blocked by a recovering defender.
Then, Orient succeeded in breaking the deadlock on 27 minutes courtesy of an own goal. Egle Trezzi played a wonderful pass to Le Marchand on the left, she cut inside and released a shot that was turned into her own net by the retreating Parker.
Quickly, the O’s doubled their advantage courtesy of Cardoso Queni. Barton’s corner from the right hung in the air, dropping towards the back post where Cardoso Queni was waiting to bundle the ball home.
Five minutes before half-time, Orient grabbed a third goal in some style. Holmback threaded a perfectly weighted pass to Barton down the right, she left her marker stranded with a clever cutback before curling a delightful effort over Armstrong and into the far corner of the net.
Having taken a three-goal lead into the break, Orient bagged a fourth goal within one minute of the restart. Le Marchand played in Barton on the right who coolly slotted in her second of the afternoon.
However, the O’s were dealt a blow when Cardoso Queni was forced off with an injury moments later meaning Lisa Fulgence was introduced in attack. Orient were denied a fifth goal when Le Marchand was denied twice in quick succession by some heroic defending.
On 71 minutes, the home side made a double change with Chloe McNee and Rebecca Hirst replacing Francesca Cagetti and Holmback. The O’s were determined to keep hold of the clean sheet while adding more goals to their tally if possible.
Although, Norwich succeeded in snatching a consolation goal fifteen minutes from time. Garrett found herself one-on-one with O’s goalkeeper Naomi Ogunde and calmly swept the ball into the back of the net.
Swiftly, an Orient counter culminated in Le Marchand rattling the crossbar with a venomous first-time strike. At the other end, Garrett’s dipping effort was pushed away by Ogunde and into the path of Natasha Snelling who diverted the rebound over the crossbar.
After a classy performance on the big stage, the referee’s whistle secured all three points for the O’s who were warmly applauded off the pitch by the sizeable crowd who turned out to show their support.
Post-match, captain Danielle Griffiths was pleased with her sides’ approach to the game:
“I think it was a great performance, exactly what we needed to do, came out strong, got early goals and put the game away in the first half which is exactly what we wanted to do. Hopefully we kept the fans happy with some nice football and some goals to cheer about.”
The skipper went on to acknowledge the special partnership with ‘Kick It Out’:
“Kick It Out are a fantastic charity doing brilliant work in football and I hope we did a little bit today to promote their cause and show there is still work to be done towards getting more equality and inclusion.”
Finally, Griffiths had a message for the supporters who came out in force:
“Thanks very much! It’s always very much appreciated, it’s great to hear those cheers and words of encouragement when you’re on the pitch so thanks for coming down, hope you enjoyed it and hope you’ll come to more Leyton Orient games in the future.”
Next, the O’s take a break before travelling to face Enfield Town Ladies in the FA Women’s National League on Sunday 7th April, with kick-off at 2pm.