Jessica Byrne’s 78th minute strike broke Orient hearts as they suffered a 1-0 defeat to Actonians in the Capital Cup final at Hanwell Town Football Club on Thursday evening.
Despite a hard-fought display from the O’s, Byrne popped up with little over ten minutes remaining to sweep home the winner for the west-London outfit.
Manager Chris Brayford made one change to the side who began the Isthmian Cup victory against Ashford Town (Middlesex) on April 17th.
Having missed that final through absence, Sophie Le Marchand returned to the eleven in place of Connie Montiel-McCann who dropped to the bench.
Actonians got the game underway as the late sun crept out at the Powerday Stadium, kicking from left to right in their blue and white striped kit.
It was a scrappy opening to the game with both teams battling to settle into the match. There were no clear cut chances of note after quarter of an hour, while neither side had seen a sustained spell of possession.
However, Orient could have opened the scoring with their first attempt on goal. Le Marchand drifted infield, cutting back onto her weaker left foot and unleashing a fierce strike that was beaten away by Paige Horsnell in the Actonians goal.
With twenty minutes played, the game was beginning to liven up as Actonians carved out a fine opening. Byrne’s deft cross picked out Carla Williams who could not get enough power on the header to trouble O’s goalkeeper Naomi Ogunde.
Now, the sides appeared to be trading chances as Orient were thwarted once again. The ball dropped kindly for Suaila Cardoso Queni whose venomous drive from inside the box was straight at Horsnell, who reacted well to deny the O’s a breakthrough.
As half-time approached, Orient continued to probe the Actonians backline. Hayley Barton drove the ball across goal towards Le Marchand, whose delicate contact on the cross diverted the ball narrowly wide of the target.
Shortly before the interval, the O’s twice came close to snatching the lead. Barton curled a free-kick over the crossbar, before turning provider for Cardoso Queni who smashed the ball over from close range leaving the teams all square at the break.
Orient got the second half underway with the temperature having dropped as darkness fell on the Powerday Stadium. The first half got better as it progressed, teeing up an enticing forty-five minutes of football under the lights.
On the hour mark, it was proving to be a cagey affair with the teams still locked in battle with nothing to separate them. Byrne tried her luck with a speculative long-range effort which dipped over Ogunde’s crossbar.
With fifteen minutes of normal time remaining, Orient were growing in confidence and seeing more of the ball which they passed around nicely. However, their hearts were broken when Actonians snatched the lead with twelve minutes to play.
Williams received the ball on the right, lifting her head and picking out Byrne who confidently swept the ball home from the edge of the area. In response, Orient made their first change of the game as Valeria Moreno replaced Francesca Cagetti for the final ten minutes.
Agonisingly, the O’s were a lick of paint away from levelling the game in the dying moments. Danielle Griffiths’ long free-kick was cleared only as far as Barton, whose volley looked destined for the bottom corner only to come crashing back off the right-hand post.
Orient continued to try and force a late equaliser however, it wasn’t to be as the referee’s whistle sparked jubilant scenes amongst the Actonians players who were crowned the 2019 Capital Cup champions.
The O’s entertain South East Division One champions Crawley Wasps in their final league game of the season at St. Paul’s Sports Ground this Sunday 5th May, with kick off at 2pm.