Report by Sue Prior
Page last updated at 5:51AM UTC, Sunday, 17 April 2011
The Charlton Women’s team took the sole lead of the Premier League Southern Division thanks to a tight 2-0 victory over Brighton and Hove Albion at VCD Athletic FC on Sunday.
Report by David Brenchley
Charley Clifford and Fliss Gibbons struck either side of half time to hand the Addicks a hard-fought victory in a physical match that is likely to set the tone for the rest of the season.
It took a while for Charlton to get a foothold in the game but they broke the deadlock on the half hour mark when Clifford finished off an impressive team move.
Striker Gemma Bryan held off her defender before laying the ball off to Gibbons. The left winger drove to the byline and put the ball into the six yard area where Clifford needed two bites at the cherry before finding the net.
The second came in the 83rd minute when a Clifford corner was headed back across goal by Becky Duggan to Gibbons, who finished with the aid of a deflection to put her side out of sight.
their new surroundings in Crayford, Charlton looked nervy for the first quarter of an hour and the Seagulls had the first real chance; Sarah Kempson delivering to the near post but Vicky Vickery’s shot was weak and easy for Megen Lynch to gather.
Then it was all Charlton as Clifford, who made herself a menace in the penalty area throughout, outjumped the Brighton defence and headed just wide from a Stef Simmons cross.
The Addicks’ left flank worked well all game and Gibbons fed a high ball to the back post but Jenny Newman’s volley went wide but the home side were ahead five minutes later.
Lynch had a rather quiet game but had to be on guard when Stevie Lamb had a long range attempt that just scraped the roof of the goal, although the keeper seemed to have it covered.
Gibbons kept getting herself involved after the interval with a shot deflected wide in the first minute of the second period and had a strong penalty shout when she was clumsily bundled over but the referee was not interested.
Duggan then went close from a Simmons corner before the left back set up stand in skipper Kim Dixson whose piledriver was well tipped over the bar by keeper Charlotte Sole.
Grace Coombs then went even closer as her 30-yard free kick rattled the crossbar but Bryan couldn’t pounce on the rebound.
With 10 minutes of the game remaining, the South Coast side had a short blast of pressure and Coombs did well to get across and clear a goalbound Kempson shot off the line.
Any momentum the visiting side hoped to gain from that spell was wiped out with seven minutes left when Bryan won a corner which finally fell to Gibbons to slam home.
Dixson had a chance to increase the advantage in stoppage time but scooped her effort over the bar from 10 yards out.
After a tough test, Technical Director Paul Mortimer was more than happy with his side’s ‘grit and determination’.
“We were a little bit nervy, there is no disputing that, but we got two goals and a clean sheet – I can’t ask for more than that. I would have taken that before the game and I am happy,” he said.
“We knew Brighton would come and make it difficult, stop us playing and sit back and it is a great challenge for the girls because they are coming up against teams that just want to stop us playing.
“It is a backhanded compliment that they change the way they play to try and stop us but it also makes the game difficult for us.”
On the physical aspect of the tie he added: “When we lost to Brighton earlier that was what happened, they left their foot in. They did what any team would do – they showed their own grit and determination.
“They weren’t going to lie down and make it easy for us, they were going to make it difficult and that is what they did. I said to my girls, ‘stop whining at the ref and look after yourselves.”
Charlton Team: Lynch, McRoberts, Simmons, Dixson, Ali (Bailes 80mins), Duggan, Newman, Coombs, Gibbons, Bryan, Clifford
Subs unused Ahern, Alden, Ejupi, Sherwood.
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