Charlton 1-1 Coventry United
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 10:14PM GMT, Sunday, 20 March 2016
The Charlton women’s team earned a hard-fought point against fellow FA Women’s Premier League South title challengers Coventry United at Sporting Club Thamesmead on Sunday.
It was a game of twists and turns and, after a goalless first half, the contest burst into life after the interval, with the visitors’ Marie Gauntlett cancelling out a Gemma Shepherd opener.
The Addicks’ top scorer Shepherd then missed a penalty before Coventry were denied a late winner when the linesman judged Nikki Miles’ shot was cleared off the line.
Manager Jeremy Parsons made four changes to the side that defeated Lewes 1-0 last weekend, bringing Katie Flack, Sam Pittuck, Ellie Baxter and Nikita Whinnett back into the starting line up. Ruby Southgate, Stef Simmons, Amy Howlett and Jenny Newman reverted to places on the bench.
The first couple of chances fell to Charlton from set plays, with Coventry keeper Sue Wood collecting an early corner and then a Grace Coombs free kick eluding all and drifting out for a goal kick.
A better chance was to come shortly after as Kit Graham did well to bring the ball under control inside the penalty area and her clever chipped cross found Shepherd, who headed straight at Wood.
The away side then launched a counter attack and Gauntlett crossed for Alison Hall but the striker’s shot flashed across goal and wide of the far post.
Megen Lynch then made the first of a number of game-saving stops, somehow pushing an Ashleigh Neville header from point-blank range wide of the far post for a corner.
As with the week before against Lewes, Charlton were a much-improved side after the break and they had to wait only two minutes before breaking the deadlock this time. Whinnett’s through ball found Shepherd in the clear and the striker lobbed the onrushing Wood to put her side a goal to the good.
Gauntlett had a great chance with 56 minutes on the clock when a Rosie Paye block fell kindly for her 10 yards out but she miscued. However, 10 minutes later, when afforded a free header at the back post, Coventry’s number nine made no such mistake and nodded Neville’s deep cross into the top corner.
Just three minutes after the equaliser, though, the hosts were awarded the chance to restore their lead when Flack, up from left back, was fouled and the referee pointed to the spot, despite Coventry’s appeals it was outside the area.
Shepherd, however, usually so cool from 12 yards, rolled the spot kick wide of the post, meaning she has now missed her last two penalties.
Graham and Shepherd were denied by smart stops from Wood late on, while PHSC Player of the Match Lynch made yet another excellent stop, tackling Hall when through on goal and almost certain to hit the back of the net.
The game was set for a highly controversial ending, though, when Miles sent an effort goalwards from a corner. The ball was cleared from the goal line by Nikita Whinnett and the linesman, standing behind the far byline waved play on as Coventry celebrated.
After Coventry contested the decision, the referee decided enough was enough and brought the contest to an end, with the visitors still unhappy with the decision.
The draw, though a fair result, does neither side any favours in their pursuit of league leaders Brighton, leaving Charlton five points behind with just the one game in hand.
Charlton: Lynch; Paye, Flack, Coombs, Pittuck; Dixson, Clifford (Simmons 72), Baxter, Whinnett; Graham, Shepherd. Subs (not used): Southgate, Howlett, Newman.