Charlton 2-1 Tottenham (Ryman Cup Final)
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 8:50AM BST, Friday, 17 April 2015
A Kit Graham double fired the Charlton women’s team to their first piece of silverware this season, after a hard-fought Ryman Cup final win over Tottenham Hotspur at Ware FC on Thursday in front of a crowd of 453.
The Addicks took an early lead they looked like holding on to until the 89th mninute, when a freak Leah Rawle goal took the game into overtime – Charlton’s second 120 minutes in just four days.
And it was Graham, with a carbon copy of her opener, who popped up yet again five minutes into extra time with her 44th strike of the season to seal the win for her side.
The Addicks tried to assert themselves into the game early on but it was Spurs who had the first couple of chances of the match, with Rianna Soobadoo seeing her shot blocked.
Shortly after, from a Charley Clifford free kick, the hosts launched a dangerous-looking two-on-one counter attack that fizzled out with Avilla Bergin under pressure from Sam Pittuck.
With 17 minutes on the clock, the free-scoring Graham netted her 43rd goal of the season after a counter attack of Charlton’s. The ball was cleared from defence and into the path of Graham, who combined well with Gemma Shepherd and drove into the box before curling the ball right-footed into the top corner.
Tottenham should have been level immediately after, when they wasted the first of a number of gilt-edged chances they would have from crosses that posed problems for the Charlton defence.
The first was whipped in with pace and met by an unmarked Lucia Leon, but the youngster’s header flew well over Megen Lynch’s goal.
Down the other end, the front two combined yet again, with Graham flicking on a long clearance into the path of Shepherd but, with goalkeeper Toni-Anne Wayne well of her line, the striker’s lob fell inches wide of the post.
Leon then saw yet another unmarked header fly over and Spurs looked as though they had equalised with the last kick of the first half but Lynch somehow clawed Wendy Martin’s header away from the goal and the referee blew for the interval immediately.
The second half started with early chances for both teams, Graham not quite connecting with hers and Coombs deflecting a Bianca Baptiste effort wide for the hosts.
The visitors’ captain Kim Dixson went agonisingly close to doubling their advantage 15 minutes in when her powerful 30-yard free kick was tipped onto the crossbar by Wayne; Coombs headed the follow up over from about five yards out.
Spurs ramped up their pressure as the game wore on, with Lynch having to be alert to get down and tip a Maya Vio effort wide.
Stef Simmons went close with a late free kick but it was Tottenham who managed to break through their opponent’s defences with just one minute of normal time remaining – somewhat fortuitously.
Yet another free kick caused panic in the Charlton defence and, after failing to deal with it sufficiently, an attempted clearance deflected off sub Rawle and trickled past Lynch.
It wasn’t far into extra time that Graham doubled her tally, striking what would be the winning goal, as she drove at the Spurs defence and lashed home from the same corner of the box as she had nearly 80 minutes earlier. Wayne managed to get a hand to it this time but the shot was too powerful.
Dixson had a well-controlled volley deflected just wide in the second half but the home side had the ascendency for the rest of the tie. There were few real chances carved out though, although Charlton were fortunate to see one Vio shot cannon back off the post.
Plenty of high balls were pumped into the Charlton box during a surprising five minutes of added-on time but the Addicks, on the whole, dealt with them comfortably. The closest Spurs came to taking the clash to penalties was when Alex Keown sent a long-range effort sailing wide.
But Charlton held on and lifted the first of what could be three trophies this season, with the FA Women’s Premier League Cup against Sheffield (3 May) and Capital Cup against West Ham (6 May) still to come.
Charlton: Lynch; Paye (Southgate 108), Flack, Coombs, Pittuck; Clifford, Dixson, Whinnett (Howlett 110), Simmons (Harrison 93); Graham, Shepherd. Subs (not used): Hardaker.