Both sides met last weekend in the FA Women’s Premier League, with Actonians snatching all three points in a seven-goal thriller, leaving Orient hugely determined to come out on top this time around.
Manager Chris Brayford went with the same starting XI who began the previous match. Connie Montiel-McCann captained the side, who lined up in a familiar 4-2-3-1 formation.
On a chilly afternoon in Middlesex, the action got off to a flying start with three chances in as many minutes. Sophie Le Marchand curled a right footed effort just wide of the far post from the left, before Actonians’ Alessandra Barreca fired a snap shot wide from the edge of the box.
Moments later, Hayley Barton found space on the right before picking out Belen Ripoll Douton who directed her attempt wide of the right-hand post. It had been an intense start to the game, Orient had a tempo about their passing game and looked confident in possession.
This momentum was stopped in its tracks momentarily whilst Chloe McNee received treatment after a clash of heads, the Orient midfielder was ok to continue as the visitors pressed forward in search of an opening goal.
On 18 minutes, the O’s succeeded in breaking the deadlock courtesy of Ellie Davies. Barton’s corner was nodded down by Egle Trezzi to Davies who was waiting to sweep home a right footed strike from the centre of the goal and give Orient a deserved lead.
On the half hour mark, Actonians’ Jessica Byrne toe-poked a shot straight at Orient keeper Naomi Ogunde. At the other end, the O’s came close to doubling their lead when Barton’s teasing strike dipped before crashing off the right-hand post.
Orient set themselves up well on the day, appearing organised and disciplined without the ball in a formation they have become accustomed to in recent weeks. They continued to probe the Actonians’ penalty area and looked favourites to score the next goal.
On 37 minutes, Hannah Porter curled a delightful left-footed free kick into the six-yard box with the bounce almost deceiving Actonians keeper Paige Hornsell who did well to push the ball away for a corner.
With 41 minutes played, Orient doubled their lead thanks to a piece of individual brilliance from left back Leyre Bastyr. After collecting the ball from deep, Bastyr went on a blistering run forward before cutting inside and drifting into the area to fire home with her weaker right foot.
The O’s could have wrapped the game up just before the break, as Le Marchand dragged her shot agonisingly wide of the post from the right.
For a brief spell at the start of the second half, Actonians had emerged a different side with more intent and desire about their play. Orient had left some gaps which the hosts came close to exploiting at times.
However, the O’s sharpened up quickly and began to show the same flair and fluency they did in the first half. Porter came close from the left of the box on 58 minutes, wrapping her left foot around a sweet strike which found the side netting.
Actonians could have pulled a goal back on 62 minutes when Barreca flicked Byrne’s miscued effort just over the crossbar. Then, Le Marchand pulled a left-footed shot wide of the post at the opposite end.
With twenty minutes to play, Orient made their first change of the game with McNee coming off to be replaced by Chanel Richards. Unfortunately, after just five minutes on the pitch Richards was withdrawn due to a knee problem and replaced by Vanessa Wilson.
The O’s switched to a 4-1-4-1 formation with Wilson going in at right back, Montiel-McCann was asked to sit in front of the back four whilst Ripoll Douton lead the attack as the O’s looked to close out the game.
Orient could have sealed the victory on 81 minutes. Le Marchand did brilliantly to bring down Bastyr’s high ball, drive into the area and pick out Ripoll Douton whose right footed effort drifted away from the far post.
Actonians’ time was running out, with Barreca firing straight at Ogunde who did well to get behind the shot. Orient had managed the game well, limiting the hosts to half chances whilst continuing to press for a third goal.
With three minutes of normal time left, Orient made their final change of the game with Ripoll Douton coming off for Joanna Gomm to make her first appearance of the season.
The O’s controlled the final stages of the game, before the referee’s whistle confirmed their place in the Capital Women’s Senior Cup Quarter Finals for the second season in a row.
Speaking after the game, player of the match and goalscorer Leyre Bastyr said: “I think we improved a lot from the last game not only because we won but we got ahead in the game a lot more, were a lot more collected and played as a team. It was more our talent, we were brilliant but sometimes we get our head out of the game a little bit and I think we did a really good job of keeping our head in the game, knowing what to do and executing it well.”
Asked about whether the win provides confidence ahead of the O’s cup clash with Cardiff City next week, Bastyr said: “Definitely. It’s always nice to bounce back in such a definitive manner, going into the Cardiff game it should be good. It’s a long way to go but I think we are all really motivated now.”
Next up for the O’s is the trip to face Cardiff City Ladies in the FA Women’s Premier League Cup first round on Sunday, kick off 2pm.