Orient keeper, Lola Durojaiye, was still unavailable through injury so winger Giulia Livi and forward Zahmena Malik stepped up as stand-in goalies.
The O’s stamped their authority early in the game. In the fifth minute Bianca Corradi won possession in the middle of the park and drove quickly toward the UPL goal, only to be tackled at the last second.
Moments later a well-placed pass from Eve Pearson put O’s captain Tara Copeland through on goal but her shot was just off target. There was no let-up from Orient with both Liliana Almeida and Bobbi Ellison going close within the first ten minutes.
In the 12th minute Upton Park finally sprang into action but, after a fine driving move lead up to a lofted shot which Orient stand in keeper Livi was relieved to see drop onto the top of the net.
Upton Park regretted the missed opportunity a couple of minutes later: After testing the keeper with a swerving drive, Almeida broke the deadlock in the 15th minute after a quick one-two with Copeland before picking out the bottom corner with a sweet right footed strike.
The goal settled any Orient nerves and, after going close in the 19th minute with Ellison drawing a fine save from the UPL keeper, Liliana Almeida’s fierce shot struck the Upton Park post before rebounding to Bianca Corradi who made no mistake and thumped the ball into the back of the net in the 23rd minute.
With the O’s now in the driving seat it was a surprise that they only added one more goal before the break. In the 26th minute Almeida played in Copeland, but the captain failed to make the most of the opportunity and shot wide.
However, Copeland wasn’t discouraged and her shot from distance in the 33rd minute drew another fine save from the opposition keeper. Three minutes later the O’s finally made their dominance pay when a sweet set up from Zahmena Malik put Eve Pearson through and the central midfielder made no mistake for Orient’s third.
Just five minutes later the wind was knocked out of Orient’s sails as Liliana Almeida was caught by a heavy tackle in the penalty area. The striker had to be taken off with an injured ankle and was replaced by Eleisia Williams. With Williams dropping in at right wing the O’s were forced into a change of formation that saw Copeland moving up front and Malik on the left to form a front three for the remainder of the first half.
HALF TIME: UPTON PARK LADIES 0-3 LOFC WOMEN
A half time rethink from O’s coach, Chris Bright, saw new signing Jess Musk make her Orient debut; replacing Copeland with Stephanie Harrow, and Chenay Hussey also coming on for Zainab El-Mouden and Grace Alexander.
Just 3 minutes into the second half Orient took total control with Williams scoring a wonder goal straight from a corner, although it may have taken a slight touch from the Upton Park keeper.
In the 51st minute Malik took over in goal as Livi came back up to her usual left-wing position. She was immediately in the thick of the action and was unlucky with a lofted shot, similar to her goal last match, that dropped just wide of the right-hand post.
An instinctive shot from Corradi in the 62nd minute was pushed out by the goalie but Orient failed to take advantage after quick thinking from the UPL defenders.
Undeterred, Orient continued to press and in the 65th minute a slide-rule pass from Livi put newcomer Musk through on goal. The youngster made no mistake with a cool finish into the bottom corner.
Five minutes later and Orient had another; after a Copeland corner dropped to Eve Pearson, who calmly placed the ball into the net.
The final 20 minutes of the game were more open – with Orient pushing for more goals, only to give away two free kicks in threatening areas. Fortunately, stand-in keeper Malik proved to be a safe pair of hands.
As Orient took possession again, a promising strike partnership was forming as Copeland fired in a cross for Musk who met the ball with a firm header, sending it back across goal and in at the far post.
The pair combined again for Orient’s final goal, in the 94th minute, with Copeland passing the ball across the box, where Musk completed a fine debut with a slick first-time finish to complete her hat-trick.
After 7 minutes of extra time the whistle blew, with another convincing win for The O’s and much to the relief of Upton Park.
LOFC: Livi, El-Mouden, Ibrahim, Worsfold, Alexander, Ellison, Pearson, Corradi, Malik, Copeland, Almeida, Musk, Harrow, Hussey, Williams.
Subs unused: None.
To read more about the women’s team for the season, click here.
To register for open trials for the LOFC Women’s team, click here.