Charlton 2-1 Lewes
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 10:27PM BST, Sunday, 09 October 2016
The Charlton women’s team ground out a 2-1 win against Lewes Ladies at Sporting Club Thamesmead on Sunday to return to the top of the FA Women’s Premier League South.
Early goals from Kim Dixson and Avilla Bergin helped to fire the Addicks into a two goal lead before Lewes hit back 10 minutes into the second half.
It ended up a scrappy affair, with Charlton not helped by an injury to goalkeeper Alex Baker, with midfielder Charley Clifford donning the gloves for the final half an hour. But they saw the game out comfortably enough to leapfrog Tottenham into pole position, albeit having played two more than their three nearest challengers.
Manager Paul McDonagh made two changes to the side that drew 2-2 with Crystal Palace midweek, with Avilla Bergin returning and 18-year-old Georgia Pearch making her first start for Charlton, in place of Jenny Newman and Ellie Baxter.
The hosts came out of the blocks flying, with a chance within the first minute as Pearch put in a tempting cross but Bergin could only divert her header wide of the near post.
However, they only had to wait three more minutes until they struck, Kit Graham turning her defender and crossing for Dixson, who took a nice touch to beat her marker and slide into the far corner.
Charlton continued their early dominance with Graham and Clifford firing off target from long range before Graham had a header cleared off the line.
Their advantage was doubled, though, on 23 minutes – and it was a stunner, with Bergin cutting in from the left wing, passing a defender and spotting keeper Lauren Dolbear off her line. The resulting 30-yard shot flew over Dolbear, clipped the underside of the crossbar and nestled into the net.
Sam Pittuck had a good chance to make it three but saw her effort deflected wide, while Rachel Palmer had the Sussex side’s only real chance, volleying just wide from an acute angle on the left flank.
The dynamics of the match changed after the interval as the weather changed from pleasant to torrential rain in that 15 minute break. Lewes pulled a goal back on 55 minutes when their skipper Katie McIntyre put in a cross that eluded Baker and Georgia Bridges was unmarked to slot into an open goal.
Five minutes later Baker was stretchered off with bruising on her leg and, with no sub keeper on the bench, Clifford took responsibility and went in goal for the remainder. New Zealand youngster Beth Weller replaced Baker and took Clifford’s place in central midfield.
Clifford made two vital stops on her way to a clean sheet, including one with her thighs as the ball tried to squeeze under her body; the other a well-held save after a bit of a goalmouth scramble as the away side tried to bundle the ball home for their equaliser.
But that leveller never looked like coming; indeed, it was the hosts who went closest when Graham released Pearch but former Brighton & Hove Albion youngster fired narrowly over.
Charlton now go into the break for a cup weekend top of the pile, with C&K Basildon their next visitors the coming weekend in the FAWPL Cup First Round Proper on Sunday.
Charlton: Baker (Weller 63); Southgate, Flack, Coombs, Sullivan; Pittuck, Dixson, Clifford; Pearch, Bergin, Graham. Subs (not used): Paye, Baxter.