Charlton 4-2 Sheffield (League Cup Final)
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 10:15AM BST, Monday, 04 May 2015
The Charlton women’s team defeated Sheffield FC on penalties to win the FA Women’s Premier League Cup at Nuneaton Town FC on Sunday as neither side could find a breakthrough in 120 minutes of football.
The Addicks dominated the first half from start to finish but could not find the requisite quality in the final third. The Yorkshire side found their rhythm after the break and had chances of their own to win the game but both sides were guilty of profligacy throughout.
In the end, after Megen Lynch had saved two and missed one, Sam Pittuck sent home the winning penalty to etch her side’s name on the trophy for the first time since 2006.
There was a delayed start to the clash, with a poorly timed downpour just seconds before kick off prompting the referee to send the players back into the changing rooms. The final finally got underway 50 minutes late, as players and management from both sides helped the groundstaff drain the pitch sufficiently.
Sheffield actually started slightly brighter in the very early stages, but the two chances they had were difficult, as Abbie McIver and Carla Ward failed to make Lynch work too hard.
The Addicks edged themselves ahead for the remainder of the half, as a Katie Flack cross was inadvertently headed into the path of top scorer Kit Graham by a Sheffield defender but the striker flicked wide.
The best chance of the first half came when Gemma Shepherd linked up with Nikita Whinnett, but the latter, off balance, curled an effort narrowly over.
Graham, as always, was a constant thorn to the Sheffield defence and she worked a late chance for her team mates but no one could take advantage.
The 50-goal attacker had a superb chance to break the deadlock just before half time when Shepherd slid her in one on one, but a covering Sheffield defender just did enough to out her off.
After a lacklustre first half, Sheffield were forced into making a substitution at the interval, bringing on Jodie Michalska in inject something different into their attack.
Sheffield had some real gilt-edged chances in the second half, starting early on as Lisa Giampalma shot wildly over from a good position. Rachel Lee then dragged a shot wide and Paye intercepted a dangerous-looking cross.
Shepherd had Charlton’s first chance of the half but, after a heavy first touch, could only poke tamely to Wallhead. Up the other end, Sheffield should have made the Addicks pay, but Giampalma shot off target again.
Graham saw a cross just evade Shepherd and Emma Harrison, who were queueing up in the middle of the box, before a drilled cross from the No. 16 looked to be sneaking in before Wallhead saved.
With the game a certainty for added time, Lynch was called into making the only save she had to make in the first 90 when Giampalma lashed goalwards, but the keeper was more than equal to it.
Charlton suffered a blow in the first half of extra time, when the impressive Whinnett’s shoulder popped out and the winger was replaced by Amy Howlett. The replacement wasted little time in making an impact, sliding a ball down the line but Shepherd’s cross was too close to Wallhead.
Sheffield thought they had found the breakthrough just before the interval when an Ellie Gilliat free kick looked to have been headed home, but Pittuck came to the rescue and cleared off the line.
The second half was a more sober affair, with the culmination of a torrid April showing as Charlton had to dig deep into their reserves of energy for one last push. Michalska wasted yet another great chance for Sheffield and Graham mis-hit a lob but, in all honesty, the game was destined for penalties.
Shepherd got her side off to the perfect start in the shootout, netting the first. Lynch then saved from both well from Michalska and Emma Johnson, with Kim Dixson and Kit Graham scoring in between to give custodian Lynch the chance to win it with the Addicks’ fourth penalty.
However, the No. 1 saw her high penalty, hit straight down the middle, saved and Lynn Goodman converted the next to leave it up to Pittuck. The experienced defender kept a cool head and sent Wallhead the wrong way to secure the south-east Londoners’ second trophy of the season.
Charlton will attempt to make it a treble on Wednesday, as they travel to Harrow Borough to face West Ham United in the Capital Cup final (1930).
Charlton: Lynch; Paye (Southgate 105), Flack, Coombs, Pittuck; Dixson, Clifford, Whinnett (Howlett 95), Harrison; Graham, Shepherd. Subs (not used): Simmons, Hardaker, Newman.