Charlton 3-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 8:01PM BST, Sunday, 23 April 2017
The Charlton womenís team ended FA Womenís Premier League South champions Tottenham Hotspurís unbeaten league record on Sunday with a hard-fought 3-2 victory at New River Sports Ground.
Both sides fielded changed sides, with a number of their big-hitters rested ahead of the Capital Cup final between the pair on Tuesday. Leading scorer Kit Graham, Charley Clifford, Katie Flack and Avilla Bergin four of note on Charlton’s bench to start with.
Midfielders Kim Dixson and Katie Bottom, with defender Katie Flack and striker Gemma Shepherd were restored to the starting XI, having missed out last time around.
After the Addicks had given their opponents a guard of honour for their title victory, it was down to business and Charlton came out of the blocks well, with skipper Dixson having a couple of early long-range efforts saved by Megen Lynch.
But it was the hosts who were to strike first, in the most bizarre and fortuitous circumstances as Charlton centre back Grace Coombs attempted to nick the ball off Kelley Blanchflower 30 yards out but ended blasting the ball goalwards and it flew over her own keeper, Alex Baker and in.
Coombs did almost make amends immediately when she deflected a ball into the penalty area from defensive partner Rosey Sullivan towards the right goal this time, but Lynch parried the effort to safety. Coombs then headed a corner on target but former Charlton stopper Lynch was equal to it yet again.
There were four minutes of time to be played in the first period when the visitors managed to get back on level terms, with young midfielder Daisy Monaghan flicking on a delightful pass to Shepherd, who curled over Lynch with the outside of her boot for the equaliser.
And Shepherd was close to a second not long after, curling a free kick agonisingly over from 20 yards out. Dixson had yet another chance from range, this time unleashing a powerful volley that was flapped away by Lynch.
First team coach Riteesh Mishra waited until just six minutes into the second half to unleash the first of his array of talent sitting alongside him in the dugout, with Graham replacing Shepherd.
And it took the clinical striker all of four minutes to make her mark, controlling Coombs’ measured ball forward, turning her marker with ease and stroking into the corner of the goal to give her side their first lead over Tottenham in 235 minutes of football played so far this season.
She almost added a second moments later, poking past Lynch but wide of the target also.
It was on the hour mark that Spurs brought on their first part of the cavalry, with Bianca Baptiste entering the field of play and nearly having as big an immediate impact as Graham. Her cross-shot flew across Baker’s goalmouth and just eluded Nikita Whinnett at the back post, trickling wide.
Mishra’s answer was to bring former Spurs winger Bergin on – and, yet again, his replacement had the desired effect just minutes after it took place. Having been on the pitch for just three minutes, the Northern Ireland international timed her run to perfection to latch onto a wonderful slide-rule pass from Graham, rounded Lynch and fired home from an acute angle.
Tottenham made it a nervy final 12 minutes for Charlton when youngster Andrea Georgiou guided a beauty of a strike into the top corner, giving Baker no chance.
However, they failed to create many clear-cut chances to extend their unbeaten streak – Blanchflower coming closest with a long ranger that flew just over. Charlton defended heroically to make sure they won their penultimate league encounter of the campaign, with Bottom throwing herself in front of one Georgiou hit to block well.
In the end, Bergin had the final chance, collecting a clever Dixson pass inside but blasting over when one-on-one with Lynch.
Charlton: Baker, Dixson, Sullivan, Coombs, Shepherd (Graham 51), Pepper, Lee, Bottom, Nash, Monaghan, Southgate. Subs (not used): Clifford, Dunne.