Charlton 3-3 Cardiff City
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 11:34PM UTC, Sunday, 16 November 2014
A last minute Amy Howlett goal rescued a point for the Charlton women’s team as they twice came from behind to draw 3-3 with Cardiff City in Leckwith on Sunday.
The Addicks trailed 2-0 at half time through two Kelly Aldridge strikes but a Charley Clifford brace restored parity early in the second period.
Cardiff’s Lauren Townsend again put her side ahead with quarter of an hour left from the spot but Howlett popped up in injury time to send Charlton above Portsmouth into third place in the FA Women’s Premier League South.
Manager Stuart Weston made two changes from the side that lost to Brighton a fortnight ago, with Ruby Southgate returning from injury and Emma Harrison replacing the sidelined Gemma Shepherd.
Elsewhere, 17-year-old striker Dominique Harris, a summer signing from Millwall Lionesses, made her first team debut, coming off the bench early in the second period.
Cardiff had the first real chance of the game, with Aldridge bringing a good save from Addicks keeper Megen Lynch, but it was the visitors who should have led early on.
An excellent pass from Harrison released Howlett through on goal but one touch too many allowed a Cardiff defender to make a last-ditch tackle and put the ball behind for a corner. From the resulting set piece, Kit Graham’s header was nodded off the line by a covering defender.
The best save of the game came 10 minutes later when Harrison threaded a ball through to Graham to the left of the six-yard box. The youngster’s powerful drive was superbly tipped over with one hand by the hosts’ custodian Alesha McGlynn.
Cardiff had a dangerous outball, with the Charlton defence employing a high defensive line and they would exploit it expertly three times – all of which led to goals.
The first of which was rather fortuitous, as the ball ricocheted off Charlton captain Katie Flack and into the path of Aldridge. The striker coolly rounded Lynch and slotted home to open the scoring 10 minutes before half time.
Harrison had a good chance to level shortly after when Howlett slid her in but her poked effort flew just wide of the far post.
The Welsh side doubled their advantage on 42 minutes from a route one long ball over the Addicks’ defence and Aldridge yet again finished well one-on-one with Lynch.
Despite the deficit, Charlton came out of the break looking like a different team, pressing Cardiff and creating a plethora of chances.
McGlynn was quickly off her line to deny Howlett early on, while the winger then saw a shot from a Clifford pass drift just wide of the target.
On 56 minutes, Graham was felled just outside the penalty area after a mazy run. Midfielder Clifford stepped up from 20 yards and placed the ball through a gap in the Cardiff wall and past McGlynn to give her side hope.
Just four minutes later, she had her second of the game, from yet another free kick. Substitute Harris drew a foul on the left and full back Stef Simmons rolled a quick set piece square to Clifford. The 21-year-old’s long range shot took a big deflection on the way, which was enough to loop the ball over McGlynn and level the scores.
Harris was inches away from a debut goal from range but her volley flew wide of the goal, while Naomi Clipson wasted a great opportunity for the home side.
Cardiff were back in front with 18 minutes remaining on the clock when Aldridge yet again broke a high Charlton line with defenders appealing for offside. No flag was forthcoming and the striker drew a foul from Lynch and the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Lynch may have been lucky to only receive a yellow card for the misdemeanour and Townsend slotted home the spot kick.
With time running out, Weston threw on another centre back in Rosie Paye, switching to three at the back and pushing Graham further up front. Charlton threw everything at the hosts and were rewarded with just seconds remaining.
A cross dropped invitingly for Sam Pittuck around the penalty spot but her effort struck the crossbar. Fortunately for Charlton, the rebound fell straight to Howlett, who made no mistake this time.
The point keeps the top of the table interesting, with Brighton leading by three points from Cardiff in second. Charlton and Portsmouth lie just one point behind the Welsh side now.
Charlton: Lynch, Southgate (Paye 82), Simmons, Flack, Coombs, Clifford, Pittuck, Graham, Howlett, Hardaker (Harris 53), Harrison. Subs (not used): Baker, Butler.