Charlton 2-1 Coventry City (FA Womens Cup 5th Round)
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 12:04AM GMT, Sunday, 22 March 2015
A Kit Graham double helped the Charlton women’s team into the quarter finals of the FA Women’s Cup after a 2-1 victory over Coventry City at the Bedworth Oval on Sunday.
Graham struck either side of half time, and a Marie Gauntlett header, to secure a tantalising draw against FA Women’s Super League opposition. The draw will be made on Monday.
The striker stunned the home crowd, opening the scoring just six minutes into the contest when she curled a first-time strike over goalkeeper Susan Wood.
Gauntlett restored parity just past the half hour mark, getting a free header from a corner inside the near post, but Graham had the final say, latching onto a sublime through ball from Amy Howlett to slot home after an hour.
The brace took Graham to the top of Charlton’s all-time top goalscoring chart with 65 from 95 appearances in all competitions, despite being just 19 years old.
The Sky Blues had the lion’s share of possession throughout but failed to create too many clear-cut opportunities. They came flying out of the blocks, winning a corner after just 30 seconds when Grace Coombs blocked Destiny Toussaint’s shot, with Rosie Paye flicking the resulting set piece to safety.
A better chance came minutes later as a cross came over from the right but Helen Dermody could only volley well over under pressure. And with those chances passed, Graham took full advantage.
The ball found its way out to Howlett on the right and the winger beat left back Samantha Quayle, crossing for Graham to flick over Wood and into the top corner.
Custodian Megen Lynch was called upon a number of times to keep her side in the tie, the first coming from a Jade Formaston header as she held well under pressure.
Graham then volleyed over from close range before some desperate defending saw her shot blocked and Charley Clifford’s tame effort saved by Wood.
Then came a blow for Charlton, although the hosts would have said it had been coming. Corners and crosses were where Coventry were at their most dangerous and Gauntlett managed to find some space at near post and headed past Lynch.
The home side then pinned Charlton back inside their own half for the remainder of the half without carving out any meaningful chances to test Lynch further.
Lynch then made another important stop, punching clear a header on the line, a minute before the hour mark, Graham put Charlton in front yet again.
It was a sumptuous, pinpoint ball through the heart of the Coventry defence from Howlett from deep in her own territory. Graham still had to do a lot, with three defenders closing in on her but the youngster kept her composure and stroked past Wood.
Unsurprisingly the West Midlanders then threw everything at Charlton, trying to preserve their FA Cup run, but it was all in vain. In fact, Charlton probably had the better popportunities in the final stretch.
Nikita Whinnett showed good strength to turn her defender and loop an shot goalwards but Wood backpedalled and tipped over. The Howlett could have had a goal herself but fired wide from an acute angle.
Coventry’s best opportunities again came from crosses: Amber Hughes shot wildly wide whejn off balance and Toussaint just failed to get on the end of a dangerous centre from right back Ashleigh Neville.
At the death, Lynch again pulled off a top-drawer stop, parrying a last-minute shot into the air and catching at the second attempt just before the referee brought proceedings to an end.
Charlton now add to their fixture congestion with a quarter final tie to be played on Sunday 12 April. The other seven teams in the hat are: Arsenal, Aston Villa, Birmingham City, Chelsea, Everton or Bristol Academy, Manchester City and Notts County.
Charlton: Lynch; Paye, Flack, Coombs, Pittuck; Dixson, Clifford, Howlett, Whinnett (Simmons 90), Graham, Shepherd. Subs (not used): Southgate.