Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 5:52PM GMT, Sunday, 18 March 2012
Two first half headers saw leaders Sunderland defeat the Charlton women’s team 2-0 in the Addicks final league game of the season at Bayliss Avenue on Sunday.
(For photos of the game please see www.simonroephotography.co.uk )
Goals from Natalie Gutteridge and Rachel Furness kept the visitors’ title hopes alive against a changed Charlton line up.
Manager Paul Mortimer brought Kim Dixson, Fliss Gibbons, Jordan Butler and Emma Beckett, who had been rested midweek, back into the XI. Defender Cori Daniels was ruled out with a foot injury and forward Jenny Newman with thigh strain. Winger Courteney Gibson also returned to the squad following illness.
The Addicks started brightly and, in truth, could have taken the lead before the Mackems hit their first goal and a Sinead Boyer header was cleared off the line early on.
Ellie Bailes, who has just been named in the England U19 squad for the forthcoming UEFA qualifiers, then played a good ball over the top, which saw Kit Graham clear of the defence but she fired her shot wide of the far post.
The deadlock was broken after 13 minutes when a quick free kick caught the hosts out and Vicky Greenwell’s cross was well headed in by the unmarked Gutteridge.
Just five minutes later Sunderland doubled their lead through a Furness header from captain Kelly McDougall’s corner.
Graham had another chance just before the interval when she was played through again and her shot was on target this time but keeper Rachel Laws made a smart save.
Charlton came out with purpose in the second period and Gemma Bryan took a couple of strides straight from kick off and shot but her effort was easy for Laws to hold.
They were fortunate not to go three goals down, though, three minutes into the half when Megen Lynch got herself well out of position and saw a Sophie Williams corner fly straight into the far corner but the referee surprised everybody in the ground and blew for a free kick.
Williams then had a couple more chances, pouncing on a slip by Harley Bennett and shooting over and then latching onto another quick free kick and shooting into the side netting.
Rachel Lee then saw her effort graze the top of the crossbar before the league’s top goalscorer Beth Mead fired over from an acute angle on the right of the goal.
Furness had yet another header on target, but this time it was cleared off the line and behind for a corner kick.
Five minutes into time added on, Emma Beckett played substitute Courteney Gibson through. The winger timed her run perfectly, despite protestations of offside, but she could only poke the ball past keeper Laws and the wrong side of the post.
After the game, Mortimer said he was more disappointed with the performance of his side, rather than the result.
He said: “Even at half time, 2-0 down, they only had two attempts at goal, one of which was a corner we didn’t defend properly and one a free kick where we turned our backs.
“Yet again it is self-inflicted, and we had a couple of good chances. They are a good side and when you play against the top teams you have to take your chances and we didn’t take ours at 0-0.
“We played really well for the first 20 minutes but they scored first, against the run of play, and we just didn’t play for the next 20 minutes.”
Charlton: Lynch, Clifford, Gibbons, Boyer, Butler, Bennett, Dixson, Bailes (Gibson 56), Beckett, Graham (Manktelow 82), Bryan. Subs (not used): Alden, Keogh.