Manager Chris Brayford made five changes to the side who began the 1-1 draw with Denham United Ladies last weekend.
Danielle Griffiths and Kathryn Canavan filled the full back positions, Lisa Holmback reclaimed her place in midfield while Rebecca Hirst and Lisa Fulgence started in attack.
Despite heavy rainfall earlier in the day, Orient got the game underway on a bright afternoon at Trinity College.
It was a quick start with Orient opening the scoring on eight minutes. After receiving the ball on the edge of the box, Holmback struck a crisp first-time effort which angled away from City goalkeeper Tee Mhundury and nestled into the far corner.
With quarter of an hour played, Orient had started strongly and were playing with confidence after their early goal. They were moving the ball quickly and enjoying decent spells of possession.
On 18 minutes, Sophie Le Marchand brilliantly spun her marker before darting to the by-line and delivering an enticing ball which fizzed across the goal mouth. The O’s were seeing the better of the chances as they went in search of a second goal.
Then, Orient succeeded in doubling their lead on 27 minutes thanks to Le Marchand. Griffiths played an excellent diagonal pass to the winger who having been denied at the first attempt made no mistake when slotting home the rebound.
Cambridge had shown promising spells of attacking football and proved to be a physical outfit. However, they needed greater precision in the final third as they looked for a route back into the match.
Moments before the break, City hit back when Laura Mills drove into a central position unchallenged before firing low into the bottom corner away from Naomi Ogunde in the Orient goal.
Orient took a 1-2 lead into half-time and could reflect on a largely dominant display where they appeared in control for the majority. In spite of this, they would have been frustrated to let Cambridge back into the game at such a crucial time.
A rejuvenated Cambridge side got the game restarted and took just five minutes to find an equaliser. Sarah Mosley let fly from the edge of the penalty area and watched as the ball evaded Ogunde before dipping into the net to level the match at 2-2.
Having conceded a two-goal lead, the O’s looked unsettled but needed to stick to their principles and take the chances they were working hard to create for themselves as they looked to restore their lead.
On 58 minutes, they did exactly that when Griffiths’ corner picked out an unmarked Tara O’Halloran at the back post who buried a free-header to put the O’s 2-3 ahead. This was followed by Orient’s first change of the game with Lydia Cooper replacing Hirst.
In spite of falling behind, Cambridge refused to give up and equalised once more on 64 minutes. Charlotte Gillies’ cross picked out Shannon Shaw in acres of space who rose and nodded the ball back across Ogunde and into the corner to level the tie at 3-3.
With twenty minutes remaining, Orient netted a fourth goal in what was becoming a very unpredictable encounter. Chloe McNee sent a beautifully weighted pass over the City defence to Le Marchand who controlled and calmly slotted past Mhundury to put Orient 3-4 in front.
As quickly as the O’s were ahead, Cambridge were level when a free-kick was half-cleared to Mills who drilled her shot low into the net to leave the game firmly hanging in the balance at 4-4.
Orient made two further changes in the final ten minutes with Canavan and Fulgence making way for Egle Trezzi and Jade Henry. They had chances to win the match with Hannah Porter playing in Le Marchand whose effort was charged down by Mhundury who also denied Henry one-on-one.
However, Cambridge snatched a dramatic winner in the last minute of normal time. Lauren Tomlinson embarked on a bold run down the left before crossing for Bella Simmons who fired home from close-range, sparking wild celebrations amongst the home faithful and bringing an end to Orient’s short-lived FA Cup journey.
The O’s are currently waiting to hear if they will be in action next weekend with details to be announced in due course.