Charlton 1-3 Cardiff City
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 1:30AM UTC, Sunday, 27 September 2015
The Charlton women’s team surrendered to their first defeat of the FA Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) season, as Cardiff City came from a goal down to win 3-1 at the CCB Centre for Sporting Excellence on Sunday.
The Addicks made the trip to Wales showing one change from the side that defeated reigning champions Portsmouth a week previous, with Ellie Baxter coming in for the injured Sam Pittuck.
Manager Jeremy Parsons also had a welcome boost, with the return of Grace Coombs from an absence that has seen her miss the start of the season, but she could only make the bench.
After a five-hour journey in the morning, the Addicks looked sluggish throughout, with the home side creating plenty of opportunities but failing to convert. With that, Charlton’s slickest move of the encounter was the one that put them ahead, on 68 minutes, when Nikita Whinnett converted a Gemma Shepherd cross.
However, having seen his side gain seven points from losing positions so far this term, Parsons had to watch on as his side surrendered their advantage this time around.
Cardiff were on level terms just a minute after the opener through Kelly Aldridge before captain Michelle Green put her side ahead 11 minutes from time and Aldridge wrapped up the three points in stoppage time after dispossessing Megen Lynch and slotting into an unguarded net.
As mentioned, it was the hosts that started best, with Charlton struggling to get any sort of control over either the ball or the contest.
The Bluebirds did, though, waste a number of good chances, with Kerry Bartlett and Chloe Lloyd shooting wide from long range and the impressive Hope Suominen heading a corner over unmarked.
Charlton’s first opportunity came from a dangerous left-wing cross sent into the six-yard box by Stef Simmons, but it just evaded Rosie Paye’s attempt to connect at the far post.
Lynch made a number of crucial stops throughout, with her err for the third goal inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. The Addicks custodian made a wonderful double save on 25 minutes, stopping attempts from Laura Williams and Bartlett in a matter of seconds.
Williams, who also impressed down the left wing, then skipped past Paye, only to see her effort pushed wide of the mark by Lynch.
Trying to pull themselves back into the contest, Charlton had to rely on their opponents for their best chance of the first period as a Simmons corner was deflected goalwards by a defender but cleared off the line.
Shepherd, who has been in fine form this season, turned provider with clever reverse pass to Charley Clifford, but Cardiff keeper Laura O’Sullivan made a smart stop.
Both sides had chances in the closing moments of the half, with Lynch quick off her line to foil Suominen before palming a flighted free kick around the near post. At the other end, Shepherd curled over before dallying too long over another opportunity and being dispossessed.
Although seeing fewer chances, the game livened up halfway through the second 45, with the visitors taking the lead against the run of play as Shepherd drove down the left, looked up and fed the ball into Whinnett, who had taken up an excellent position and slotted home.
Cardiff hit back immediately, though, as a ball was threaded through the heart of Charlton’s defence and the ever-dangerous Aldridge this time beat Lynch one-on-one.
And they had the lead on 79 minutes as Williams ran and beat at Baxter before feeding Green, who lobbed Lynch from fairly close range.
Charlton brought young striker Darcy Wells on for the final five minutes but still struggled to get the ball into their front three, with the third goal summing up their performance.
The ball rolled back to Lynch with just seconds on the clock and, instead of sending the ball forward the keeper attempted to dribble past Aldridge but was tackled, leaving an open net for the striker to end the contest.
Charlton now slip into fourth position, five points behind league leaders Brighton and with a home clash against third-placed Tottenham Hotspur coming up on Wednesday evening at Sporting Club Thamesmead.
They then travel back to Wales to face Cardiff in the first round proper of the FAWPL Cup, where they will be hoping to kick off the defence of their title with an improved performance, and result.
Charlton: Lynch; Baxter, Simmons (Wells 86), Paye, Flack; Dixson, Clifford, Whinnett, Newman (Coombs 67); Graham, Shepherd. Sub (not used): Southgate.