The Charlton Women’s reserve team lifted the Kent Cup on Thursday evening at Sevenoaks Town FC on penalties against Millwall Lionesses reserves after a Sam Rowland spot kick cancelled out Millwall’s opener.
Report by David Brenchley
The game finished 1-1 after extra time and it was Rowland who stepped up yet again to slam home the winning penalty after Jasmine Augustine put her spot kick over the bar.
Millwall took the lead in the 54th minute after a Sarah Smith goal kick hit Abigail Igbavboa and ricocheted into the striker’s path and she finished well.
It looked like it could be a night of frustration for the Addicks but, 10 minutes from time, Kallie Balfour played Rowland through, the striker poked the ball past keeper Debbie Cole and was brought down for a penalty. Despite the referee surprisingly taking no action against Cole, Rowland stepped up and slotted home from 12 yards to level the game.
The first half was a quiet affair, with Rachel Ahern forcing Cole to tip a well controlled volley unconvincingly round the post and Toni Alden going agonisingly close with a free kick.
The game came alive in the second period with Katie Sheppard going close for Charlton and Millwall heading over a Shauni Griffiths corner before the Lionesses broke the deadlock.
If the Millwall goal was down to a mistake from keeper Smith, she more than made up for that with a string of superb saves when it looked certain the Lionesses would go further ahead. Three times the South Londoners were played through on goal and three times Smith came out, made herself big and kept the Addicks in the game before Rowland equalised.
Both sides had chances to win it in the final 10 minutes; Griffiths had a cross well cleared by Ellie Manning, Smith yet again made a good save from Angela Kiobel and Balfour was desperately unlucky with a left footed shot that went wide in the last minute.
The first period of extra time was end to end stuff. Smith foiled Kasia Viggor early on and Balfour and Duffy were unlucky not to get on the end of a rasping Alden free kick.
With both sides visibly tiring towards the end of the 120 minutes, the second half was pretty much a non-event and the game had to be decided by the lottery of penalties.
Duffy, Alana Garratt and Manning all converted their spot kicks, as did Kiobel, Griffiths and Strugnell, before Augustine skied hers over Smith’s bar.
Alden and Viggor then scored, leaving Rowland with the chance to slot home the winning spot kick which she did, much to the delight of the Addicks players and fans.
After lifting the trophy, skipper Katie Hardaker felt that her side’s effort and determination made them worthy winners of the cup.
“Towards the end we found it really tough but at moments like that you just have to keep going,” she said. “We wanted it so much and we showed that through our heart and determination.
“In the end everyone pulled together and put the effort in when they needed to. People were throwing themselves at the ball and everyone played really well.”
On the crowd that turned up for the game, the midfielder added: “There was great support today. I must say it was really good to have so many people getting behind us.”
Despite conceding the first goal Rowland admitted the girls never doubted they had an equaliser in them, it was just a matter of battling and biding their time.
“We knew there was plenty of time left on the clock and we have scored lots of goals this season so we knew one would come. We just had to keep battling,” she said.
Charlton: Smith, Manning, Alden, Hardaker, Igbavboa, Ahern, Duffy, Sheppard (Garratt), Rowland, Onianwa (Balfour), Goldsmith.
Subs (not used): Lynch, Day, Pettitt.