Charlton Athletic Football Club Women
Goalscorer Megan Mulholland
Charlton 4-2 Gillingham Res
Charlton 4-2 Gillingham Res
Report by Gemma Shepherd
Page last updated at 7:55PM UTC, Sunday, 03 November 2013
On a cold and blustery day at The BAE Sports Club, the Charlton reserves team came away with a well deserved 4-2 victory thanks to goals from Leigh Houlihan, Megan Mullholland, Clare Rogers and Alice Singyard.
Although the scoreline suggests the victory was emphatic, the visitors didn’t have it all their own way. Charlton had to come from a goal behind after Gillingham took the lead and later had to battle for the victory when the home side had equalised to make it 2-2. 

With a strong wind blowing across the pitch and an uneven playing surface, both teams struggled to settle into a rhythm in the opening few minutes. 
It was Charlton who were able to acclimatise quickest and began to dominate possession and carve out some early chances. 
The first fell to Ibrahim who struck a powerful right footed drive just wide of the post after a well delivered ball by Rogers. Searle went close shortly after as her left - footed shot snuck just wide of the far post. 

On 23 minutes, winger Katie Hardaker had an optimistic penalty shout waved away by the referee after a great run down the left hand side. Minutes later, intricate interplay between Searle and Ibrahim then saw the latter’s shot float just over the bar. 

Charlton were really beginning to dominate proceedings, enjoying the majority of the possession but with no goals to show for all their endeavour. 

Gillingham’s first meaningful attack came on the half hour mark. A good ball down the left hand channel looked to have set the winger away but Megan Mulholland came across swiftly to make an important tackle. Gillingham then went agonisingly close to taking the lead when a pinpoint through ball was latched on to by their striker who could only poke wide after Alex Baker had narrowed her angle. 

After this scare Charlton were back on the attack. Neat midfield interplay set Searle away whose cross cannoned off a defender to earn Charlton the first corner of the game. The corner was initially cleared but fell to Hardaker whose shot from distance was easily gathered by former Addick, Shanly. 

On 37 minutes the deadlock was finally broken by the home side, somewhat against the run of play. A routine back pass saw Alex Baker come off her line to clear the ball. Her pass fell to Hyland who was dispossessed in central midfield. The Gillingham attacker, spotting Baker off her line struck an audacious and well placed lob into the back of the Charlton net. 
Buoyed by taking the lead, the home side then carved out another chance after the restart. An awkward back pass was pounced upon by a Gills striker but Baker was out quickly to smother the danger.

Charlton were able to regain their composure and really pushed for an equaliser which came right on the stroke of half- time. An excellent run by Searle saw her take on two Gillingham players and earn a corner. The ball was swung in well by Rogers causing chaos in the box. After a goal mouth scramble, Houlihan was able to poke home bravely to level the tie.

The second half began in much the same way as it had ended, with Charlton very much in control. The visitors were very quick out of the blocks and this time made their possession count. 

On 52 minutes, Megan Mulholland made an excellent run down the right hand side and unleashed an absolute rocket of a shot which rifled past the helpless goalkeeper. Mulholland could have doubled her tally shortly after when a neat through ball left her one on one with Shanly but this time she could only fire at the keeper. 

With 58 minutes on the clock, the game took an unsavoury turn. Yennaris tangled with Gillingham’s Page off the ball after a tough challenge. Both players were adjudged to be guilty of foul play and were sent off. This put a markedly scrappy slant on the remainder of the game. 

The visitors seemed shell-shocked by the decision and were caught cold when Gillingham were awarded a free kick right on the edge of the Charlton penalty area after a high foot violation. Another former Addick Megan Carrol stepped up and struck a beautifully shaped, curling effort into the top corner of Baker’s net levelling the game at 2-2. 

The final 20 minutes of the game really saw Charlton get the bit between their teeth and take a stranglehold of the tie. Their play became more intricate and more expansive. Their passing game really came to the fore and they began to make more in roads into the Gillingham penalty area. 

The next goal came on the 72 minute mark. Fantastic centre - forward play by Singyard (who had earlier replaced Searle) saw her set up Clare Rogers who had made a dynamic foray into the Gillingham box. After evading the attention of three Gillingham defenders she rifled a left-footed drive narrowly over Shanly’s fingertips and into the roof of the net. 

The game was finally put to bed on 77minutes when super sub Singyard capitalised on a poor back pass to slot home coolly with her left foot making the full time score 4-2. 

In difficult conditions and against their local rivals the Charlton reserve team displayed an excellent team performance, particularly in the second half, to record a well deserved victory and retain their unbeaten record in the league.  

Team: Baker, Mulholland, Houlihan, Yennaris, Shields (Richards), Southgate, Hyland, Rogers, Hardaker (Hunter), Ibrahim and Searle (Singyard). 
Sub not used: Roger

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