Charlton 2-0 Cardiff City (League Cup semi-final)
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 8:29PM GMT, Sunday, 15 March 2015
A 2-0 win over Cardiff City at The Valley fired the Charlton women’s team into the FA Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) Cup final for the first time since 2006.
A tough game in front of a bumper crowd saw the visitors spurn a number of chances before Kim Dixson broke the deadlock and Kit Graham added the finishing touches to the scoring.
The Addicks were forced into one change from their win FA Women’s Cup over Crystal Palace, with Sam Pittuck reinstated to the starting line up and playing alongside Grace Coombs at centre back.
The first of the away side’s many chances came just two minutes into the tie – and was a big let off for Charlton. A nonchalant clearance from goalkeeper Megen Lynch cannoned back off Naomi Clipson but ricocheted wide of the goal.
It was Clipson in particular that was guilty of missing chances, but the striker and full backs Hannah Mills and Shanelle Edwards were, at times, too hard for the hosts to handle and an Edwards cross was put into the side netting by Clipson from a difficult angle early on.
Charlton looked comfortable on the ball in their own half and the middle of the field but, unlike their opponents, struggled to fashion many clear-cut chances. Their first shot of the game came from 25 yards out but Graham ballooned it well over the crossbar.
Hope Suominen got in behind the Charlton defence shortly after but Lynch came out well to divert the ball wide before the Addicks had their best spell of the period.
Some good build up play released Amy Howlett down the right and her deep cross looked to have picked out Emma Harrison at the back post but the winger just failed to get her head on it. Meanwhile, Howlett had a pop herself but it went harmlessly wide of the target.
That was it from Charlton in the first half, as Cardiff took control in the latter stages. A 30-yard, first-time volley from Kelly Isaac was well pushed wide by Lynch and Coombs did well to put a dangerous Edwards cross behind for a corner.
In between those two chances came the best of the half: a cross from left-winger Laura Williams found the unmarked Michelle Green but somehow her header missed the target – yet another let off for Charlton.
And Cardiff’s day got even worse after the interval when Suominen spurned an open goal. The cross came over and the No. 10 flung a leg out but didn’t get enough contact on it and Lynch came across goal to clear off the line – it looked easier to score than to miss.
From then on Charlton improved and started carving out proper chances for themselves, with the first of them finding the net.
After Nikita Whinnett had replaced Howlett on the right wing, the Liverpudlian chased down what looked like a lost cause and put some pressure on the Cardiff defence. A wayward backpass then allowed Graham to nip in ahead of keeper Alesha McGlynn and square for Dixson to slide into the corner of the net.
Cardiff were not to be deterred, though, and they came back with a few opportunities of their own: Pittuck did well to turn an Edwards cross clear of danger before Lynch came out to beat the onrushing Clipson and prevent her from equalising.
Graham then had a great chance but maybe had too much time to think about it and put the ball narrowly wide, but the attacker made amends moments later when she doubled her side’s advantage.
The youngster picked up a pass from Gemma Shepherd and slammed home from 15 yards to put the finishing touches to the victory with 10 minutes remaining.
Cardiff tried their hardest to pull a goal back and set up a grandstand finish, but their best chance fell to Clipson who, after turning both central defenders, could only shoot tamely into Lynch’s arms.
Charlton held on for their eighth victory in a row and set up yet another cup final, where they will face FAWPL Cup holders Sheffield FC on Sunday 3 May. The venue will be confirmed in due course.
Charlton: Lynch; Paye, Flack, Coombs, Pittuck; Dixson (Hardaker 88), Clifford, Howlett (Whinnett 53), Harrison; Graham, Shepherd. Subs (not used): Baker, Simmons, Southgate.