WOMEN’S TEAM | Late comeback earns Addicks local bragging rights against Crystal Palace

David Brenchley reports

Two late goals fired the Charlton women’s team into the second round of the FA Women’s Cup as they came from behind to deservedly beat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

The Addicks struggled to deal with their fired-up opponents early on and went a goal down after 40 minutes when a Pamela McRoberts cross flew over goalkeeper Alex Baker.

But, as the hosts tired, Charlton went up a gear and were rewarded for their efforts through goals from Rosey Sullivan and Charley Clifford that saw them come out victorious.

Manager Paul McDonagh made just the one change from the side that defeated Portsmouth 4-2 last weekend, with new signing Bupe Okeowo coming in for midfielder Giorgia Dunne. Elsewhere, Jenny Newman returned from injury to take her place on the bench.

Palace made their intentions clear from the off, pressing Charlton relentlessly and forcing their opponents into mistakes both in the final third and defensively.

It was Clifford, playing in an advanced midfield position, who looked most likely of the visitors’ side to net in the first period, seeing a well-struck volley saved by Palace keeper Chanelle Yardley on 10 minutes.

There were five minutes to play before the interval when Palace struck – Charlton’s defence fell asleep when Palace had a corner. McRoberts was alert and knocked it short before lofting the return pass under Baker’s nose, but the keeper got caught out and couldn’t reach it as the ball floated over her and into the top corner.

If Charlton were on the back foot for the majority of the first period, it was a different story after the interval; Palace’s high-intensity game saw them fade in the closing stages, and Charlton ramped up the pressure and pushed to get themselves on level terms.

Kit Graham headed a Katie Flack cross wide before Charlotte Lee saw her centre just elude Kim Dixson, who was waiting inside the six-yard box.

Avilla Bergin was unfortunate to see her long-range piledriver tipped wide by the stretching Yardley just shy of the hour mark and Graham then had a snapshot that flew just wide

There were 12 minutes remaining when the breakthrough came – and from then on there was only ever going to be one winner. A whipped corner came over from the left and Graham saw her effort cannon back off the crossbar. The visiting supporters could have been forgiven for thinking it was not to be their day, but the ball rebounded kindly for Sullivan, who leapt to head over Yardley and in to restore parity.

The winning goal came at an opportune moment – with just one minute of normal time to play – and led to a mixture of relief and pure joy for those visiting fans and players.

Sullivan floated a free-kick into the area, the delivery caused mayhem in the Palace defence and, after a couple of ricochets, it fell to Clifford, who slammed home her fourth goal in three matches to complete the comeback.

Charlton will now face Portsmouth in the second round at Sporting Club Thamesmead on Sunday, January 8th. It will be the third time the pair have clashed this season, with Charlton coming from behind to win 4-2 both times.

Charlton: Baker, Flack, Southgate (Nash 90), Dixson, Sullivan, Coombs, Clifford, Bergin, Okeowo (Newman 80), Lee (Monaghan 69), Graham.

Subs (not used): Jeffkins, Pearch.

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