The pressure's all on Spurs this time
Report by David Brenchley
Page last updated at 1:14PM GMT, Thursday, 12 January 2017
There aren’t many matches in a typical season where the Charlton women’s team are considered as underdogs, but Sunday’s away trip to Cheshunt FC to face league leaders Tottenham Hotspur is one.
“The pressure will be on Spurs to not slip up . . . . . We know if we get something out of the game, we'll be back in contention.”
The Addicks finished second to now FA Women’s Super League side Brighton & Hove Albion last season, meaning they went into the season as most peoples’ title favourites. However, heavy home defeats to second and third placed Coventry United and Cardiff City mean they currently sit off the pace on fourth place in the FA Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) South.
By contrast, Spurs have probably been the division’s surprise package, having finished sixth – a whole 18 points behind Charlton – last term. This year, though, they are yet to lose a game in all competitions and find themselves three points ahead at the halfway stage.
And both first team coach Riteesh Mishra and centre back Rosey Sullivan say this means the North Londoners are the ones with all the pressure on their shoulders this time around. “They’re the ones that have got to win to keep their unbeaten record,” Sullivan explains.
“That makes it even more exciting to try to beat them,” she continues. “I’m excited for it – I can’t wait to play them. We all want to upset them.”
Mishra agrees and hopes his side can go out and enjoy the match with the pressure off – but he is hoping for a better performance than he saw during 5-1 and 4-1 losses to Coventry and Cardiff.
He said: “I think it's a good challenge for us. We've not been good enough against the other title challengers so far this season, so the Spurs game will be another opportunity to put things right for us.
“I think where we are at the moment, going through a bit of transition as a club, and our league position, we'd certainly be considers outsiders for the league now. So I think we need to go out and enjoy the challenge.
“The pressure will be on Spurs to not slip up to give us, Coventry and Cardiff a chance to close the gap. We know if we get something out of the game, we'll be back in contention.”
While both teams are free-scoring, Sullivan’s centre-half partner, Grace Coombs, believes defensive performances will be the key in Hertfordshire this coming weekend.
While Charlton’s previous match against Portsmouth in the FA Cup will be remembered for the five goals scored at The Valley, the team will likely be happier with the clean sheet they managed to keep.
Coombs says her side are always likely to score – they have not yet failed to in any match this season – so getting it right in their own final third will likely mean more victories.
“We know we’re always going to create chances and score - I don’t think there’ll be many games we won’t score in - so if we keep a clean sheet we have a good chance of winning games,” she said.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game – they’re on a really good run; they haven’t lost a game all season and there’s a reason for that.
“We’ve had some good games against them in the last couple of years and the two cup finals last year were two completely different contrasts. We know, if we play well, what we can do.
“I think it will be a bit of a defensive battle on Sunday because both teams can create chances. Their threats are all going forward so if we can eliminate them and stay strong, our girls are always going to get chances.”