Charlton 2-2 Crystal Palace
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 9:43AM BST, Thursday, 06 October 2016
The Charlton women’s team fought back from 2-0 down to rescue a point against Crystal Palace at Sporting Club Thamesmead on Thursday night.
The Addicks went a couple of goals behind within the first 25 minutes courtesy of goals from Gemma Bryan and Ciara Sherwood as Palace dominated the opening exchanges, hitting the woodwork twice.
But two pieces of brilliance from Kit Graham, scoring one and setting another up, clawed the hosts back into the tie – and they would have won had it not been for a superb point-blank range save to deny captain Kim Dixson.
Manager Paul McDonagh made one change: with Avilla Bergin unavailable, Sam Pittuck was restored to the starting line up.
But it was Palace who came flying out of the blocks and could have been a goal up after just six minutes as Bell turned her defender on the left wing and sent an effort goalwards. It looked as if it was heading in but striker Bryan made sure, tapping in from a yard out, only to be flagged for offside.
It only took the visitors eight more minutes to open the scoring legitimately when Bryan was given way too much room at the left byline to turn and make an angle – albeit pretty acute - for herself to get the shot away. Her effort took a big deflection and looped over Alex Baker and into the far corner.
Baker had to be on top form to deny Rochelle Shakes from close range before Sherwood clipped the crossbar with a free kick from 25 yards out. On 25 minutes, though, she got another chance, this time about seven yards closer to goal, slightly to the left of the area and she made no mistake, curling into the top corner to double her side’s advantage.
The second goal seemed to belatedly wake Charlton up and they began to press in earnest, with Pittuck finding herself in a good position only to be denied by an excellent save by Lauren Allen. The keeper parried the ball towards Jenny Newman but the winger was too slow to be able to capitalise.
In truth, if anyone was going to drag the Addicks back into the tie it was always going to be Graham; but the more she dropped deep to pick the ball up the less threatening her side looked in the final third.
She fired a warning shot in with three minutes of the half remaining that flashed just wide. Just two minutes later, she picked the ball up from a throw in 25 yards out and, out of nothing, curled beautifully into the corner.
The away side again started the second period better, with Bryan putting probably the best chance of the match wide of the target from 10 yards out and Shakes rattling the crossbar after the Charlton defence had failed to clear its lines thrice.
Charlton’s first real chance of the second half fell to Charley Clifford but she couldn’t get sufficient contact on Dixson’s pull back and Allen collected. Left back Katie Flack went close to a stunning equaliser, floating a 30-yard volley narrowly wide of the far post.
There were eight minutes left on the clock (plus what would turn into a surprising 10 minutes of injury time) when the Addicks finally found their leveller and it came, unsurprisingly, from Graham’s good work on the left flank. Graham managed to get away from her marker well and put in a tantalising centre across the face of goal that Palace captain Sarah Jones could only divert past her own keeper and in.
Back on level terms, Charlton looked the likely winner from then on and they could have had that third goal through their captain. Some slick passing, which came way too late in the game really, saw sub Georgia Pearch, who impressed in her 12 minutes cameo appearance, flash a cross into Dixson. Her header looked to be going in but she was somehow foiled by a point-blank stop from Allen.
It was the second draw between the two sides already this season, with both surrendering leads of more than the odd goal before being pegged back. Charlton hosts Lewes Ladies on Sunday, looking to get back to winning ways.
Charlton: Baker; Southgate, Flack, Coombs, Sullivan; Pittuck (Weller 84), Dixson, Clifford; Baxter (Pearch 79), Newman, Graham. Subs (not used): Cooper, Paye, Nash.