Charlton Athletic Football Club Women
Goalscorer Stef Simmons (left) in action
Charlton 2-2 Gillingham Reserves
Charlton 2-2 Gillingham Reserves
Report by Colin Robertson
Page last updated at 10:51PM UTC, Monday, 09 January 2012
Goals from Stef Simmons and Sam Rowland should have been enough to secure victory away at Gillingham on Sunday.
Simmons scored from outside the box to equalise in the 65th minute and Rowland netted her goal after coming off the bench in the 81st minute. The striker had been quick to make an impact, scoring from her second chance.

The home side scored in the first minute of the game when possession was lost playing the ball from Simmons at left back. The Gills quickly countered to shoot in a central position but too many Charlton players were slow to react and Sarah Smith was beaten.

The play from the Addicks was largely disjointed and soon Gills could have made it two from a corner when a header went unopposed and off the crossbar.

Until fifteen minutes had passed nothing settled for the visiting side and the Gills were buoyed by their early fortune. Whether it had been the festive break that had let rust settle in or not the Addicks were slow out of the blocks.

The play did improve and Harley Bennett settled on the ball in the centre and onetime she beat her marker and played a neat ball in for Jade Keogh who twisted and turned her way around her markers to force a save from the edge of the box.

On another occasion she spread the play over to Liz Ejupi who advanced to wing a dangerous ball that forced an uncomfortable clearance for a corner. Ejupi had looked strong on the right and often had the beating of her marker.

Jenny Newman made some way on the left and turned inside to unleash a hearty strike that forced another good save from the home side. Although the play had improved there were still times where the ball was given away cheaply and Gills looked dangerous on the counter attack.

Late in the half Simmons had some luck down the left side with some mazy running and after Keogh did the same in the and around the box the ball was uncomfortably cleared for a corner.

A double substitution at half time and some tactical changes meant Charlton went with three centre backs. There was much more play in the favour of Charlton who were sturdier at the back and found some rhythm through the midfield. The ball however would not stick up-field for very long and the Gills were resilient in the final third.

In the 65th minute Simmons was infield after some mazy running and after a contest for the ball, it bounced kindly for her on the edge and the left sided player made no mistake in volleying home her effort high into the net.

Megan Chandler then had a golden opportunity to make it 2-1 when she ran onto Kristina Manktelow’s cut back from the right with the keeper way from her goal but her placed effort was cleared by a defender in the six yard box.

Keogh had a final chance at goal when she found her way in one on one but her effort fell wide. Rowland had only been on a minute when she broke free from a through pass but her effort was agonisingly wide of the right post.

Then the breakthrough came as Rowland broke with energy from the halfway line past two or three players and laid the ball over to Ejupi on the right who crossed back for the  striker to control and finish from close range.

It seemed as though the game could be won and Newman may have done better when Rowland played her in a minute later – her effort after running in on goal was dragged wide.
 
In one counter by the Gills from Smith’s kick the keeper was forced into a top draw save tipping the ball for a corner from a very well struck medium range effort.

Charlton then let the home side in again on a few occasions as the Gills hit back and looked particularly susceptible to aerial balls as they had been at set pieces and throughout the match - allowing the Gills striker to go far too close on a few occasions.

However another frailty conceded an away victory when alike in the first ten minutes team presence was alarmingly low. In the 89th minute, Simmons and Yennaris struggled to position themselves for a counter attack down the left and the ball was knocked infield and goal bound under pressure. Goldsmith first to the ball but turned into two advancing players and keeper Smith was beaten in a scramble at the near post to much dismay.

With just two minutes of injury time Charlton could not muster enough to score another and the game petered out into a draw. It is true that the Addicks had the clearest chances and the equaliser was an anomaly however there were spells that ultimately cost the away side the game.

Team: Smith, Singyard (Manktelow 45), Goldsmith (Capt), Yennaris, Simmons, Ejupi, Bennett, Sellar (Patel 45), Chandler, Newman, Keogh (Rowland 77)
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