Kelley Blanchflower at the double as Cambridge United Women secure victory over Leyton Orient in FA Women's National League, Division One South East
Cambridge United ensured they will end 2019 outside of the relegation zone in the FA Women's National League, Division One South East after a 3-0 victory over promotion-hopefuls Leyton Orient on Sunday.
The U’s sat second-bottom in the table prior to the game with local rivals Cambridge City and Norwich City in their sights.
United came out of the traps quickly and looked bright for the opening 15 minutes. Amy Howlett, returning to the squad after a short break, failed to open the scoring when Kelley Blanchflower played her through.
The match then settled into its expected rhythm, as Leyton Orient dominated possession but could not create any clear-cut opportunities.
United’s defensive resolve paid dividends just before half time when Howlett’s pass found Blanchflower one-on-one with the keeper following a swift U’s move. Top scorer Blanchflower made no mistake.
Orient upped the tempo in the second half and saw an effort brilliantly turned over the bar by the head of U’s skipper Kayleigh Anne-Burt.
Following an Orient free-kick, United cleared the ball upfield. A breakdown in communication between keeper Latoya Smith and centre-half Leyre Bastyr gave Blanchflower a chance she could not refuse, cushioning the bouncing ball over the oncoming keeper to double the U’s lead.
With little more than 10 minutes left, Emma Jenkins put the game to bed, smashing home following an indirect free-kick from close range after Smith had picked up a back pass.
The final whistle sounded to screams of jubilation as United secured their second win of the season – a feeling shared by head coach, Ben Yeomans.
“Relief comes to mind, but it’s not relief. It’s more of a reassurance that the girls have now got something they can believe in," he said.
“Without seeing points, wins and clean sheets, naturally they start to question themselves. So I’m so happy and so proud they’ve got a foundation to kick on.”
Asked whether Yeomans has questioned himself as coach too, he replied: “Absolutely! Every single week, whether it’s the drive home, I think to myself, ‘Do I believe in what I’m preaching any more?’ But, of course I do.
“It’s been a long time coming [the win] but it feels very very good.”