Orient came into the match on good form, having won five consecutive league matches and progressing to the FA Cup first round last weekend. Actonians sat in seventh place prior to kick off, after falling to a 2-1 defeat against AFC Wimbledon in the week.
Manager Chris Brayford kept faith with the 4-2-3-1 formation, but made three changes to the side who started against Billericay Town last time around. Connie Montiel-McCann and Hannah Porter came into defence to replace Vanessa Wilson and Danielle Griffiths, whilst Ellie Davies returned in place of Lisa Holmback in midfield.
A good crowd had turned out to see Orient’s first league match at Brisbane Road this season, and they were almost treated to a goal inside the opening minute when Hayley Barton nodded over from just inside the area. Egle Trezzi was next to go close, catching a sweet half volley which cleared the upright.
Actonians first effort on goal came on ten minutes, with Carla Williams directing her header straight into the arms of Orient keeper Naomi Ogunde. It had been a tight opening fifteen minutes, the O’s had seen more possession but needed to improve their final ball. Actonians were proving to be stern opponents, and looked to cause Orient problems in behind.
It was the O’s who broke the deadlock on 23 minutes courtesy of Chloe McNee who bagged her third goal in as many games. Trezzi played a sensational pass into Sophie Le Marchand on the left, she pulled the ball back to McNee who calmly tucked her shot into the bottom right corner from just inside the area.
Minutes later, Orient almost doubled their lead. Barton’s corner was met by Belen Ripoll Douton, whose effort was smartly tipped onto the bar by Actonians keeper Paige Hornsell. After half an hour, Orient deserved the lead on the balance of play. However, Actonians had made them work for it and created some half-chances of their own.
On 31 minutes, the visitors were gifted a chance to equalise when they were awarded a penalty after Francesca Cagetti was adjudged to have brought down Catherine Murphy. Cagetti was booked, before Alessandra Barreca confidently dispatched her spot-kick into the bottom left corner to level the scores at 1-1.
Orient could have re-taken the lead on 35 minutes, McNee threaded a fine pass into the path of Le Marchand who was denied by the feet of Hornsell. The pace of the game had slowed, with the teams going into the break all square.
Orient had seized the initiative with their first clear cut opportunity of the match, but were pegged back by Barreca’s penalty. The home side needed more urgency in their passing game, and better conviction in front of goal during the second half.
Just two minutes after the restart, the O’s faithful were silenced when Actonians took the lead. A cross from the left was palmed away by Ogunde, straight to the feet of the lurking Barreca who tapped in from close range for her second of the afternoon.
After a quiet ten minute spell, Orient set about pulling themselves back into contention as they pressed for an equalising goal. McNee was replaced by Sárka Stryhalova on 66 minutes, in the hosts first change of the match.
Almost immediately, Orient drew level thanks to top scorer Le Marchand. She received the ball in the centre of the goal, before wriggling into space and poking the ball past Hornsell from six yards to level the match at 2-2.
On 70 minutes, the crowd were on their feet once more when Orient took a 3-2 lead. Barton squared the ball to Ripoll Douton, who was denied at close range by Hornsell before substitute Stryhalova smashed home the rebound to spark wild celebrations amongst the Orient supporters.
In what had been a frantic half of football, Actonians were not finished and pegged Orient back once again on 72 minutes. Jessica Byrne’s spectacular curling long range effort looped over Ogunde and into the net to make it 3-3.
Just three minutes later, Actonians turned the game on its head and took a 4-3 lead. After a corner situation, a scramble in the area saw the ball fall to Clare Hollingsworth who fired a shot into the top right corner leaving Orient to try and fightback for a second time in the match.
This was a real test of character for the O’s, who had fifteen minutes to find another goal. On 78 minutes, Ripoll Douton came off for Kayleigh Xidhas in Orient’s second change of the match.
Actonians could have sealed the points when a corner struck the near post, but Orient retained possession as they searched for a late equaliser. Davies miscued a strike from the edge of the box, before Porter headed wide from a corner.
Orient continued to pile on the pressure as the seconds ticked by, a corner fell to Stryhalova but she could only find the side netting. Despite their best efforts the O’s were unable to find a goal, with the final whistle seeing them fall to their first defeat in six league matches.
Speaking after the match, captain Connie Montiel-McCann said; “It’s really disappointing. We’ve had a really good run recently, and it’s a real shame it’s come to an end especially as I think we did enough good things in the game to have won it. You can’t concede four goals, and collectively everyone can go away and think of something they could have done better because conceding four goals is never going to win you too many games in this league sadly.”
“I think a lot of people are going to go away this week and it’s going to feel like a long week, quite a tough week reflecting because again we did enough to have won this game, and we all came out of it feeling that we should have done. It’ll be nice to have a chance to put that right, work this week in training on some of the things that didn’t go so well. It’ll be a good opportunity to reset and get ready for the next games, we’ve got a tough month coming up in November.”
Orient’s focus turns to the first round of the Capital Women’s Cup on Sunday, where they face Actonians away from home with hopes of progressing to the quarter finals.