Charlton 9-1 Forest Green Rovers
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 8:18PM BST, Sunday, 24 April 2016
Hat tricks from Gemma Shepherd and Charley Clifford fired the Charlton women’s team to a 9-1 FA Women’s Premier League South victory over Forest Green Rovers at Sporting Club Thamesmead on Sunday.
The Addicks came out all guns blazing from the off and were 3-0 up after only eight minutes through goals from Kit Graham, Clifford and Shepherd.
They had a longer wait in between the next two strikes, with Shepherd and Clifford doubling their tallies before half time. It was Clifford who reached the treble first, before goals from Stef Simmons, Shepherd and substitute Charlotte Lee, making her first team debut, sealed the victory either side of a consolation from Kerry Walklett.
The victory sealed a top three finish for Charlton and Cardiff City’s 2-1 loss to Portsmouth means three points from their final match of the season against Coventry will be enough to secure second place.
Manager Jeremy Parsons made three changes to the side that defeated Plymouth last weekend, with Grace Coombs, Ellie Baxter and Graham replacing Sam Pittuck, Amy Howlett and Stef Simmons, with Lee on the bench for the first time.
And the home side made the perfect start just two minutes in, with Graham picking the ball up unmarked 40 yards out before taking a touch and lashing into the corner past keeper Abbie Morrissey.
Three minutes later Clifford clipped an effort high that Morrissey spilled into the net and Shepherd stabbed home a Graham knock down to make it 3-0 on eight minutes.
Jenny Newman brought a fine save out of Morrissey on 19 minutes and, from the resulting corner, Shepherd again had the ball in the net only for it to be ruled out for a foul.
Shepherd didn’t have long to wait to put that right and grab her second of the match, Newman receiving the ball from Graham on the right wing and centring for the striker to head home on 25 minutes.
Morrissey saved once again from Shepherd, denying a hat trick moments later but it was 5-0 on the stroke of half time when Shepherd turned provider, crossing to the back post for Clifford to convert.
It was more of the same after the interval, as Clifford completed her hat trick just two minutes after the restart, curling into the far corner from the left hand side of the penalty area.
Forest Green pulled a goal back against the run of play as Walklett dispossessed Rosey Sullivan at the edge of the area and slotted past Megen Lynch.
Graham tried to hit back quickly and stung Morrissey’s fingertips with a powerful long-range effort before a fine cross from Lee found Shepherd , but she could only head wide at the near post.
On 67 minutes, Simmons volleyed home with her right foot at the edge of the area to restore her side’s six-goal advantage.
Shepherd competed her hat trick on 74 minutes, curling past Morrissey before Lee volleyed narrowly wide three minutes after.
Lee did manage a debut goal with six minutes from time, latching onto a Graham through ball with a well-timed run and coolly slid the ball past Morrissey with her weaker right foot.
The Addicks face Tottenham on Wednesday in the Capital Cup final at Wingate & Finchley FC before their final match of the season away to Coventry, where a point could conceivably secure second place, depending on Cardiff’s last two matches.
Charlton: Lynch; Paye, Flack, Coombs, Sullivan (Pittuck 55); Clifford, Dixson, Newman (Simmons 53), Baxter (Lee 47); Graham, Shepherd. Subs (not used): Whinnett.