Leyton Orient Women will face Southern Division side Charlton Athletic in the Capital Women’s Senior Cup semi-finals after seeing off Denham United 4-1 at Mile End Stadium on Sunday.

Goals from Hayley Barton, Belen Ripoll Douton and a brace from top scorer Sophie Le Marchand got the O’s got back to winning ways after their disappointing FA Cup exit at the hands of Ipswich Town last weekend.

First team regulars Leyre Bastyr, Francesca Cagetti and Egle Trezzi were absent on this occasion, giving players from the development setup an opportunity to impress for the first team. Joanna Gomm, Rebecca Hirst and Makesha MacFarlane all got game time which will be vital for their confidence moving forward.

Game Plan

Orient began the game with a spring in their step, they were positive in possession and succeeded in taking the game to Denham from the off. The O’s lined up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with some players being deployed in slightly different roles than normal.

Vanessa Wilson began at left-back, Chloe McNee occupied a deeper role in midfield, whilst Kayleigh Xidhas operated just behind Belen Ripoll Douton in attack. Everybody put in a professional shift over the course of 90 minutes, which speaks volumes about the character within this talented Orient squad.

Having been on top for the majority of the first half, Hayley Barton’s opening goal was vital in settling the home side. The O’s took a 1-0 lead into the break, and Le Marchand revealed what was said during the half-time interval:

“We just said that we were missing that clinical touch in the last third really. We all acknowledged that we put together some really lovely moves in the first half. We were playing lovely one-twos off each other, our shape was good, we felt like we were playing good football but we just missed that clinical edge in the last third. Chris kind of rallied us at half time, and we went out hoping to find that killer instinct a little bit more quickly and I think that’s what we did. We killed the game off pretty quickly in the first ten minutes of the second half.”

Manager Chris Brayford’s words must have been ringing loudly in his players ears, as the O’s wasted no time in grabbing their second just two minutes into the second half. Barton turned provider for Ripoll Douton who cushioned the ball into the far corner to revive Orient’s clinical streak.

The hosts had a taste for further goals and Le Marchand was next to get in on the scoring act, bagging a quick-fire brace to put Orient in cruise control with over half an hour left to play.

Le Marchand’s consistency has been second to none with 16 goals and 12 assists to her name this season. In light of these impressive statistics, Orient’s shining star talked about the targets she has set herself:

“It’s always good for self-confidence, I think goals is hugely a confidence thing. I’m trying this season to balance the goals with the assists. Last season I got a lot of goals but not so many assists, so I’m trying to maybe be a less selfish player and make sure that I balance them out. I think I’m doing that so far so that’s one of the big targets for me, but it’s always pleasing to get goals and especially when we’re on the winning side.”

It was a good afternoon of redemption for the O’s. They put on a good show for a sizeable crowd, who turned out for Orient’s first home game in over a month.

Future Game Plan

Speaking to Rising East after the match, Le Marchand gave her thoughts on their semi-final trip to the Addicks saying:

“We know that’s going to be a really tough game, they are an excellent side. We’ve come up against them in pre-season ties before and they’ve beaten us, and I think we’ve drawn against them before as well. Every single time they have been extremely strong, so we’re going to have to be at our best and extremely organised to compete.

“I know we’ve got a few players coming back from various injuries so hopefully they’ll be fit and ready to go when we do come up against them. I think we can compete, we’ve got a lot of confidence and we’ve been doing really well in this division. I think that’s helped us, so fingers crossed we can put on a good show against them.”

With a mammoth Capital Cup tie pencilled in next year’s diary, Orient will be looking to maintain their challenge for top-spot in the FA Women’s Premier League when they travel to face Stevenage Ladies this Sunday.