WOMEN'S TEAM | Addicks beat Baggies on penalties to reach cup semi-final

David Brenchley reports

The Charlton women’s team advanced into the FA Women’s Premier League Cup semi-final after beating West Bromwich Albion 4-2 on penalties at Sporting Club Thamesmead on Sunday.

The match finished 1-1 after both normal and extra time, with both goals having coming in the first half from Kit Graham for the Addicks and Amy Dicken for the Baggies.

It was Charlton who started brightest and dominated the first 25 minutes, with West Brom struggling to get out of their own half. In truth, they should have been leading by more than one goal at the end of the period.

Bupe Okeowo got the ball rolling, cutting in from the left and dragging a shot wide. Some good delivery from the right from Avilla Bergin then saw Grace Coombs blast a half-volley over and Graham spurn two great opportunities. Kim Dixson also fired a shot straight at goalkeeper Bec Thomas.

Charlton’s goal, 19 minutes in, came from a defensive error when a clearance presented Graham with the ball in the final third. She made no mistake, despite having plenty still to do, and floated an inch-perfect effort over Thomas that clipped the underside of the crossbar on its way in.

The goal only served as a wake-up call for the Baggies, though, and they almost hit back immediately when Katie Flack cleared Leigh Dugmore’s effort off the line. Dugmore, looking increasingly like her side’s most dangerous player, then struck the post on 31 minutes. Her side had to wait just two minutes longer to restore parity.

It was Dugmore in the thick of things yet again, cracking the ball against the woodwork, and Amy Dicken reacted quickest to tuck home the rebound.

After a period of West Brom pressure, Charlton managed to regain their composure and should have restored their advantage when Okeowo did well to feed Graham but the striker, on her weaker right foot, dragged it wide.

One final chance before the interval went the way of centre-back Rosey Sullivan, whose brave diving header was blocked and cleared by the Albion defence.

Charlton began the second half well, with Dixson shooting over and Bergin slamming the ball against the post from an acute angle.

Momentum ebbed and flowed, though, with both sides creating chances but failing to take them; Grace Coombs, Graham and Bergin were all frustrated for the home side and Dugmore, Abi Cottam and Trina Greaves for the visitors.

Graham burst through on goal in the dying moments of the tie and was cynically pulled back by West Brom skipper Kelly Darby, who was the last defender. The defender was, perhaps, fortunate to see a yellow card produced by the referee, rather than red.

The free-kick came to nothing and the tie then went into extra time where, once again, Charlton started strongest. They went close twice early on from corners, with Coombs and Clifford both seeing headers cleared off the line by Albion defenders, while Thomas was alert to foil Graham twice later in the half.

At the other end, West Brom also had a chance cleared off the line by Flack. They went closest in the second period of extra time when Greaves just failed to get on the end of a cross.

In the end, it was down to the lottery of spot-kicks and Charlton made the worst possible start to proceedings, with captain Dixson’s penalty very well saved by Thomas.

However, with West Brom’s first penalty, Dugmore blasted well over. Charlotte Lee and Summer Holmes converted the second penalties for their respective sides.

After Graham had put Charlton 3-1 up, Cooper made an excellent save with her legs to deny Greaves and give her side the advantage with three penalties taken apiece.

The next two penalties were converted, Southgate for Charlton and Darby for West Brom, and it was down to Coombs with Charlton’s fifth and final of the game. She made no mistake to send her side through to the last four.

Charlton: Cooper, Flack, Dixson, Sullivan, Coombs, Clifford, Bergin, Okeowo (Lee 65), Graham, Nash (Southgate 74), Monaghan.

Sub (not used): Bailey.

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