Charlton 1-1 West Ham Reserves
Report by Colin Robertson
Page last updated at 8:27PM GMT, Sunday, 29 January 2012
Stef Simmons first half strike was not enough to seal the game when the Hammers equalised with a late surge at Sparrows Lane on Sunday.
Charlton eventually took a grip of the game after an unsettled start by both sides in cold weather. Goalkeeper, Sarah Smith was equal to an early Hammer’s cross and assertive in her distribution. Whilst young player, Kit Graham returning to the reserves after a month of first team action made the first chance of the game shooting on target from range.
Kristina Manktelow, in a new advanced role as sole striker, was immediately a handful for the opposition and caused all sorts of problems as they struggled with her pace and strength on the ball. The striker managed to create her own opportunities early on and forced saves from Hammers’ Keeper, Katie Duffy.
Sam Rowland was also able to find some space to attack on the left and she set out with obvious intent battling hard against her marker. It was Jade Keogh though who created the first real danger from the right when Liz Ejupi slipped the ball out to her on the right. Her cross was accurate and with Manktelow, Simmons and Rowland all in the box there was a real sense of anticipation but the Hammers made an unconvincing clearance for a corner.
With a good level of intent in the attack there was a sense of optimism about the home side and West Ham’s attempts to counter were well defended against. Vanisha Patel at one point stretched to cover West Ham’s most significant threat breaking through with a well-timed tackle.
On 26 minutes the breakthrough came as Manktelow controlled a defensive clearance with her back to goal to turn and shoot from range. Her effort was blocked and Simmons struck the rebound first time from 30 yards. The swerve on the ball possibly wrong footed Duffy as she could only tip the effort back further into the net.
Before the half was out Manktelow and Graham both had further efforts saved by Duffy. Charlton looked to be in control of the game.
Tha Addicks did not let up at the start of the second half and Manktelow was again frustrated by Duffy having an effort tipped wide.
Liz Ejupi who had been quiet for much of the first half came to life and made some impressive runs through the centre one of those, where it appeared she was obstructed right at the last moment on the edge of the area. It was a spell of relentless pressure by the home side and Graham was denied by a defensive block as she shot.
Charlton looked certain to add a second goal on the hour as Manktelow outpaced her marker to cut in on goal one on one but her lofted finish narrowly wide. It was a significant moment in the game as the visitors who had very little opportunity seemed buoyed by the Addicks’ frustration to score.
Minutes later the referee gave an innocuous free kick for a challenge by Simmons and West Ham struck the bar as a result.
Charlton responded – Rowland cut in to the box for a clear sight on goal and the crowd held their breath as she beat the keeper with a placed finish only to hit the post.
With ten minutes to go Liz Ejupi’s pass to the defence was intercepted by Emma Harrison who broke into finish convincingly as the back four, who had been resilient all game, were caught off guard and Smith could do little to save.
In the final minute of the game Athena Yennaris may have claimed all three points but her effort was miscued and the visitors were gifted a point.
Manager Bill Long said after the game, “If you don’t take your chances like that then you are going to get punished. Their number 10 (Emma Harrison) is a very good player and if you give her that opportunity she will punish you.”
“We seemed to switch off in the centre of the park and there was not enough effort in there over the 90 minutes by all collectively to really control the game as we should.”
Maybe it is indicative of the maturity of the side, the lapses that have lead them drop points over the course season however they are proving to be a difficult side to beat, with five draws this season, undefeated in four games, a Cup Final round the corner and a fighting chance to finish towards the top of the league.
Team: Smith, Singyard, Yennaris, Patel, Symonds, Keogh, Graham, Simmons, Ejupi, Rowland (Balfour 80), Kris Manktelow.
Unused: Kylie Manktelow, Flack, Long.