Charlton Athletic Football Club Women
Mishra delighted with the team's resilience and character
Mishra delighted with the team's resilience and character
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 12:18PM BST, Tuesday, 12 September 2017
A display of defensive resilience and great character from the Charlton women’s team delighted first team head coach Riteesh Mishra after his side continued their winning start to the season.
Quote by: Riteesh Mishra“It felt like a big goal and a big moment for us, not just for the win, but the way we had to go about it.”Quote by: Riteesh Mishra
Riteesh Mishra
With just 10 players for 80 minutes of the match, after centre back Grace Coombs had been sent off, the women’s team looked to have ground out an “ugly” goalless draw against Portsmouth in Havant, until all-time top goalscorer Kit Graham popped up in stoppage time to nick the win.

And Mishra said after the game that he is “learning more and more that when we face tough periods now, we have players with tough minds and good character to get us through”. “That was so pleasing to see,” he added.

It extends Charlton’s perfect start to the season to four wins from four, with three of those in the FA Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) South, and sees them stay in second place, behind Crystal Palace on goal difference only.

It’s a “good start and helps us build momentum”, according to Mishra. However, he counters: “What we've seen so far this season is that most teams have strengthened in this league and are capable of beating anyone, so we have to take things game by game.”

Charlton’s match against Portsmouth, who beforehand also held a 100% record this term, started in the worst possible way. Coombs was adjudged to have fouled Shannon Albuery in the penalty area and the referee decided to give the centre back her marching orders with less than 10 minutes on the clock.

Former Yeovil Town midfielder Molly Clark stepped up to take the spot kick, but saw her effort well saved by England under 19 goalkeeper Katie Startup. The first half didn’t get any easier, with Pompey bombarding their opponents with long-range shots and crosses, but Startup proved equal to everything she had to deal with.

That included making a stunning point-blank stop to deny Albuery, though she was powerless to stop Clark slamming a 35-yard effort against the post seconds before the interval.

On the first half, Mishra said: “We started the game poorly and played into their hands, giving the ball away cheaply. We didn't have much fluency with the ball. It then took us a while to reorganise ourselves and for a 20-minute period after the sending off we were under a bit of pressure.

“But we managed to grind through until half-time, where we then could settle down, go over a few key points and start the second half with a clearer game plan.”

That game plan saw a much more even second period, with Charlton going close early on after Charlotte Lee headed a Charlotte Gurr corner narrowly over. Pompey still had the lion’s share of chances, though; they just couldn’t make their one-man advantage count.

It was Graham, a 75th-minute substitute, who had the ball in the net first, though saw her curling effort ruled out for offside. But she popped up again when it mattered the most – pouncing on some poor defensive play and rounding Michelle Beazley before slamming home past two covering defenders.

On the second half, Mishra explained: “We rode our luck at times, but we defended well. That said, they didn't create many clear chances. They peppered us with long distance efforts and crosses but our back four were dominant and Katie in goal made some vital saves to give us a chance.

“From the sides it looked like it would finish up all square. But when you grind and fight to stay in a game, with the quality of our forward players sometimes we only need one chance.

“It felt like a big goal and a big moment for us, not just for the win, but the way we had to go about it.”

A final word was reserved for his players, a number of whom only joined this summer and have made instant impacts. “Defensively, especially when you only have 10, you cannot carry any passengers and we didn't,” he added.

“Charlotte Lee from the front worked her socks off, the midfield four helped protect the back four all game, the back four were so strong in dealing with long balls and crosses, and then Katie produced some outstanding moments in front of goal, as well as dealing with things from wide areas. We had to ride our luck at times, but I'd say we deserved that.”

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