Orient came into this match on the back of an opening day 0-0 draw with Cambridge, whilst Actonians got off to a flyer with a 13-0 victory.
Manager Chris Brayford opted for a 4-1-2-2-1 formation in his sides second match of the Premier League campaign. Captain Danielle Griffiths and Hayley Barton were absent, so Orient welcomed Sophie Le Marchand back into the starting lineup whilst Kathryn Canavan partnered Francesca Cagetti in defence.
In very warm and demanding conditions, Actonians controlled the tempo of the game with an early spell of pressure.
With 10 minutes played made their wave of pressure count via a stroke of fortune when Caterina Kensbock’s low cross looked to be heading for Orient goalkeeper Naomi Ogunde before taking a deflection into the path of Alessandra Barreca who tapped into an empty net.
Soon after, Barreca bagged her brace in spectacular fashion by looping a long-range effort over Ogunde into the bottom right hand corner to give the hosts a two-goal advantage inside 15 minutes.
With a spring in their step, Actonians continued their scoring spree five minutes later with another well-executed finish. Jessica Byrne turned on the edge of the area, before curling a left-footed strike into the top left corner leaving Orient with a mountain to climb.
However, the O’s almost pulled a goal back with their first real chance of the half when Sophie Le Marchand drove into the box before seeing her effort hit the side-netting.
At the break, Orient introduced striker Sárka Stryhalova to support Jasmine Campbell in attack as they looked to reduce the three-goal deficit. There was a change of personnel in goal too, with Vanessa Wilson replacing Ogunde.
Actonians could have sealed the match when a fierce free-kick came crashing back off the crossbar just five minutes into the second half. Moments later, Kensbock failed to capitalise on Wilson’s sliced clearance after dragging her effort wide.
Orient were still making their presence felt, with a firm belief that they could get themselves back into the match. Substitute Stryhalova latched onto a through ball before seeing her shot well saved, with the O’s beginning to breach the Actonians penalty area more often.
However, on the hour mark Actonians put the result beyond any reasonable doubt with a fourth as an exquisite through ball carved open the Orient defence into the feet of Sin Sooriyakumar who dispatched her effort on the slide.
Momentum was with the hosts now, who were looking to add to their impressive goal difference this season. They complied Orient’s misery with a fifth goal when Katrina Duncan-Marshalleck slotted home from close range.
Orient made their second change of the match on 68 minutes, with Ella Meadowcroft coming on for Belen Ripoll Douton to provide fresh legs going forward. They continued to ask questions of the Actonians defence in search of a consolation goal, which finally arrived when Egle Trezzi’s excellent strike flew past the keeper from range.
Orient made one final change with 15 minutes to play, with Olympia Diamond replacing Kathryn Canavan. They continued to force the issue, keen to narrow the scoreline as Meadowcroft saw her low effort comfortably dealt with.
Shortly after, Actonians almost scored a sixth only to see Duncan-Marshalleck’s strike bounce down off the bar and onto the goal line. At the other end, Campbell fizzed a fierce shot into the keeper’s grasp which proved to be the final action of a frustrating afternoon for the O’s.
Actonians were more decisive, clinical and looked sharp in all areas of the pitch. Orient will learn lessons from a defensive point of view, but should be proud of the character they showed despite being up against it for most of the game.
Speaking after the match manager Chris Brayford said; “We made some poor defensive decisions early on for which we were punished and we seemed to take a while to adjust to the absence of certain influential players. However, we can’t use those absences as an excuse.
“We had a good enough team and squad to win the game but we just didn’t do ourselves justice today and Actonians were deserved winners.
“We’ve learnt some useful lessons today and we will do better next time as a result of what was a bad day at the office.”
Orient hit the road for a third consecutive week this Sunday when they face Luton Town in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup.
Match highlights from Sunday’s draw can be seen here.