Charlton 1-4 Cardiff City
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 2:50PM BST, Sunday, 10 May 2015
The Charlton women’s team were defeated 4-1 in their penultimate FA Women’s Premier League match of the season against Cardiff City at Sporting Club Thamesmead on Sunday.
With the Addicks having played 210 minutes in the previous seven days and their opponents fighting with them for third place in the league, it was never going to be an easy task.
The Welsh side took a two-goal advantage thanks to strikes from Laura Williams and Hope Suominen either side of half time, but Kit Graham’s 52nd goal of the season gave her side a glimmer of hope.
However, having then seen Sam Pittuck’s looping header hit the post, it was the Bluebirds that finished the game stronger and Cori Williams and Kerry Bartlett added gloss to their scoreline late on.
The result leaves Charlton still needing just one point from their final game against Plymouth next weekend to secure a third-place finish, although they do have the cushion of being able to lose 1-0 and still maintain their position over Cardiff.
The Addicks showed two changes from the team that triumphed in the Capital Cup on Wednesday, with Stef Simmons and Ruby Southgate recalled in defence.
It was nowhere near a one-sided affair, as the result may suggest, though, as both sides were evenly matched throughout.
In fact, Charlton probably had the better first half chances, certainly before the deadlock was broken, and saw Gemma Shepherd curl their first attempt just over.
Shepherd was at the centre of most of the hosts’ attacking play, as she laid the ball on for Graham, who saw her shot blocked; and then centred for Charley Clifford, who just failed to connect.
Cardiff had had a few chances before they found their goal, with Cori Williams going close but there was a sizeable amount of fortune about their strike. A seemingly harmless Laura Williams free kick was floating into the arms of Megen Lynch, but the goalkeeper misjudged the flight and saw the ball roll through her legs and in.
Charlton came close to finding an immediate equaliser when Kim Dixson’s cross was cleared to Graham, but the in-form striker saw her well-controlled volley blocked on the goal line.
The visitors could have doubled their advantage just before the halfway point, when Naomi Clipston saw Lynch off her line but her effort from long range flew well wide.
However, they did not have to wait long after the interval to find that second goal – and there seemed to be even more fortune favouring them this time around. Suominen appeared to be at least five yards offside, but the assistant referee decided to keep his flag down and the striker kept her cool to lob Lynch.
Charlton had to up their attacking efforts after that, with Cardiff keeper Laura O’Sullivan having to be at her best to tip Clifford’s effort from 20 yards over the bar. The custodian then saved another curling effort from Shepherd, before Graham headed a corner wide at the front post.
As they searched for a way back into the game, caretaker manager Jeremy Parsons tweaked his side’s formation, switching to three at the back with Pittuck moving into midfield.
That almost paid dividends immediately after Nikita Whinnett came on for Emma Harrison, with the winger nicking the ball from a Cardiff defender, but seeing her shot saved. O’Sullivan continued to foil the Addicks, also saving well from a Dixson free kick.
She was beaten, though, when Whinnett slipped a ball through the Cardiff defence for Graham to just beat O’Sullivan to and poke it in to reduce the arrears.
And it looked like the home side would be able to find their way to parity when an Amy Howlett cross was met with a great header from Pittuck, but it struck the post and spun to safety.
It was then left to the visitors to finish the score for themselves, with Cori Williams and substitute Kerry Bartlett both getting behind the Charlton defence and finishing.
It was Charlton’s first home defeat of the season, and they finish their campaign on Sunday (17 May, 2pm) against Plymouth Argyle at Sporting Club Thamesmead.
Charlton: Lynch; Southgate (Paye 61), Simmons, Flack, Pittuck; Dixson, Clifford (Spice 76), Howlett, Harrison (Whinnett 64); Graham, Shepherd.