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Tim Rapley takes belief from Cambridge City Ladies' performance in defeat to Leyton Orient in FA Women's National League, Division One South East

Bella Simmons scored Cambridge City Ladies' goal against Leyton Orient
Bella Simmons scored Cambridge City Ladies' goal against Leyton Orient

Cambridge City remain in the relegation zone of the FA Women's National League, Division One South East after their 2-1 defeat to Leyton Orient last Sunday, despite a spirited second-half comeback.

City would have hoped 2020 could spark a change in form. After going five games without a win prior to the festive break, they went into the match 11th in the table, two points from safety.

As expected, Orient dominated the ball in the early stages but had few efforts to test Dominika Szary in the City goal.

The home side were very much holding their own before another silly defensive mistake gifted Orient the lead. Lauren Tomlinson underhit a return ball to Szary, who was trying to play out from the back, only for Otesha Charles to intercept and pass it into the net.

City came back strong with Shannon Shaw testing the Orient keeper from distance before Tomlinson tried to atone for her previous error by driving forward and forcing another good save from Naomi Ogunde.

Despite the momentum shifting, Orient doubled their lead just after the half-hour mark. Charles was the only player to chase down a loose ball before crossing to an unmarked Ellie Stenning to head home.

After half time, City upped the ante, desperate to get back into the game.

Charlotte Gillies was having some joy down the right, testing the Orient keeper once more with a fierce shot and it was not long before the hosts got their just rewards.

Sofia Castiglione found Gillies down the right again. She beat her opponent on the outside and floated an inch-perfect cross for Bella Simmons who headed the ball into the net to make it 2-1.

City’s tails were up and they could sense the possibility of a point.

Castiglione forced Ogunde into making two more strong saves from free-kicks outside the area, but Orient, who were on the back foot for the majority of the half, did well to see the game out, wrapping up a 2-1 victory and condemning City to their seventh league defeat of the season.

Manager Tim Rapley saw enough positives in the second half display to be upbeat, though.

“I’ve come away from some games this season really quite disappointed with our performance and wondering how we’re going to get a tune out of the players and an improvement.

“I saw plenty there today to give the players belief and I think the confidence has been pretty low. Yes, we’ve got beat again, no points but there is a lot to work on.”

City have a break from the league this weekend as they take on March Town United in the Cambs Invitational Cup quarter-finals. Rapley is longing for that winning feeling again.

“We’ll certainly be on the front and pressing and trying to score some goals. We obviously want to get through to the next round, so we’ll be very positive.”

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