David Brenchley reports
The Charlton women’s team were unfortunate to concede a late equaliser as they looked certain to bring home all three points from the West Midlands on Sunday.
An 89th minute Jade Brook strike cancelled out Avilla Bergin’s first half opener and ensured the points would be shared as the women’s team saw out a 1-1 draw against Coventry United in the FA Women’s Premier League (FAWPL) South.
On the whole it was a good point against a side that had won the reverse fixture 5-1 and represented a bounce back to form, but much less than Charlton’s performance deserved.
First team coach Riteesh Mishra made one change from the side that had lost to FAWPL South leaders Tottenham two weeks previous, with Charlotte Lee returning to the starting line up in place of Stef Simmons.
And it was the visitors who got off to the better start, creating the first opportunity as skipper Kim Dixson dragged her shot wide of the target. But they did not have to wait long until they took the lead.
After just 12 minutes, centre back Grace Coombs launched a promising through ball forward that was cut out by a Coventry defender, who proceeded to attempt to play a back pass to keeper Susan Wood. However, that pass fell in no-man’s land and Bergin latched on, rounded Wood and stroked into an empty net from an acute angle.
Charlton stuck to the gameplan throughout, hassling and pressing when needed, and formed a stout defensive wall that limited the hosts to, on the whole, long-range efforts, most of which were wildly off target.
One from Brook did make goalkeeper Alex Baker work, but it was routine for the Addicks’ stopper.
Up the other end, Charlton continued to probe, with Bergin getting in behind the defence once again, this time out wide, but a covering defender did well to cut out her near-post centre before the lurking Kit Graham had a chance.
Coombs played another wonderful ball out of defence, this time for Graham to run onto. The normally clinical striker found herself one-on-one with Wood, but the keeper made herself big and forced Graham into shooting straight into her arms.
Coventry carved out their two best first-half chances as the interval was approaching, with impressive left back Ashleigh Neville shooting tamely at Baker when through on goal and Brook cutting in from the left and firing in a right-footed effort that grazed the top of Baker’s goal.
But it was Charlton who went into the break with the advantage, with Coventry coming out in the second period looking to claw their way into a match they had, largely, been out of.
It was Neville, marauding forward on every occasion she could, who had the most, attempting a spectacular overhead that skewed wide and placing a more conventional effort wide. In between, Amber Hughes saw a snapshot comfortably saved by Baker.
Up the other end, Charlton still looked dangerous, with Graham bringing the best out of Wood on the hour mark and Bergin forcing Coventry captain Natasha Lynch to hack off the line shortly after.
Neville and Bergin spurned further chances before Charlton had their best opportunity to put the game to bed within the final 10 minutes of the contest.
Bergin initially did brilliantly, jinking past the challenges of four Coventry players on the right wing and cutting in when at the byline. The Northern Ireland international winger’s final decision, though, left a lot to be desired when she seemed to shoot straight at Wood froman extremely tight angle when pulling back for Graham, who had the goal at her mercy, looked the better option.
Bergin had yet another chance go begging that she had done well to fashion for herself and Charlton were left to rue their collective profligacy with just one minute of normal time to be played when the ball ran across goal for Brook to slam into the far corner for the leveller.
Having been second best all game, Coventry found themselves staring victory in the face when one of their players headed goalwards, but Baker somehow clawed the ball off the line to rescue a point for her side.
Charlton: Baker, Flack, Southgate, Dixson, Sullivan, Coombs, Clifford (Monaghan 86), Bergin, Lee (Pepper 68), Graham, Bottom.
Sub (not used): Weller.
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