Chris Brayford made two changes to the side that defeated Eastbourne Town last time out, with Skye McNally and Katherine Long replacing Cheryl Anderson and Claudia Zahui.
Coming up against a side who currently reside in second place in the WNL Division One SE, Orient made a bright start in their new surroundings. Lauren Heria, Hayley Barton and Long all had efforts on goal within the opening 30 minutes, however they did little to trouble Kinga Golebiowski in the Actonians net.
As the first half came to a close, O’s winger Barton had to be on hand at the other end of the pitch when a headed effort from the visitors escaped the grasps of ‘keeper Naomi Ogunde forcing Orient’s number ten to hook the ball off the line to keep the scores level going into the break.
Much like the beginning of the first period, Chris Brayford’s side made a good start following the interval. They came so close to taking the lead in the 51st minute when Kate Bradley headed Barton’s out-swinging corner just wide of the target.
Brayford made his first change of the game shortly before the hour mark as he brought on Réa Laudat for her debut in place of skipper Allison McCann.
Laudat almost made an instant impact as she drove forward immediately after coming on and won a free-kick right on the edge of the box. The former Charlton midfielder stepped up to take the resulting set-piece and curled one that looked destined for the far corner only for Golebiowski to claw it behind.
Two more Orient substitutions followed as Long and Barton made way for Michelle Young and Scarlett Smith.
The O’s could have perhaps felt hard done by when, slightly against the run of play, Meila D’Santos gave Actonians the lead in the 73rd minute with a deflected effort that left Ogunde with no chance.
Ogunde had to be on hand moments later to prevent the visitors putting the tie to bed, the Orient ‘keeper produced a fine save to keep out Actonians substitute Roschelle Shakes.
As the clock ticked into the 90th minute it looked like time was running out for the O’s, that was until they won a throw five yards inside the opposition’s half. McNally stepped up and launched one into the feet of Egle Trezzi who, once she got the ball under her control, turned and hit a looping effort that had Golebiowski beaten all ends up.
Spurred on by that late equaliser, Orient weren’t done there though. Almost immediately from the restart, Heria showed great tenacity to win the ball back and set Young free down the right hand side, the winger then jinked to the outside of her marker and delivered a low cross into the six yard box where Smith was on hand to prod home a dramatic winner right at the death.
Speaking after the game, Smith remarked on her side’s desire to go one better now that the O’s have equalled last season’s record of reaching the F.A Cup Second Round.
“It might be my last season playing in the F.A Cup and it is still so magical”
— Leyton Orient WFC (@OrientWFC) December 13, 2020
Manager Brayford also praised his side’s mentality after winning the game in such dramatic fashion.
“We’re delighted to be through to the second round and that was some way to do it. It was an amazing ending to the game with two fantastic goals: the players deserved that win for never stopping running and believing.”
The O’s will find out their opponents for the Second Round at 1PM on Monday afternoon, with that tie scheduled to be played on January 3rd.
ORIENT: Ogunde, Lee, Kerr, Bradley, McNally, Trezzi, Heria, McCann (Laudat 57′), Barton (Young 63′), Denny, Long (Smith 68′)
GOALS: Trezzi 90′, Smith 90′
ACTONIANS: Golebiowski, Barreca. Brereton, Buckmire, D’Santos, Graham, Murphy, Odofin, Ono, Ward, Wada
SUBS: Harte, Ishmael, Morris, Shakes, Horsnell
GOALS: D’Santos 73′