WOMEN'S TEAM | Addicks strike late to down Lewes

David Brenchley reports

Two late goals were enough for the Charlton women’s team to see off Lewes Ladies at The Dripping Pan on a sunny Sunday afternoon on the south-east coast.

Substitute Gemma Shepherd had an instant impact, nodding home a Kim Dixson free-kick before Kit Graham’s well-struck 20-yarder put gloss on the scoreline after a tough test against the Rookettes.

With their challenge for the FA Women’s Premier League South title now all but over, manager Riteesh Mishra took the opportunity to tinker with his starting XI, giving starts to youngsters Hope Nash and Daisy Monaghan in place of Ruby Southgate and skipper Dixson. Charlotte Lee and Nicole Pepper also came in at the expense of Shepherd and Katie Bottom.

It almost started in the best possible way for Charlton, with Lee unleashing a powerful first-time volley that stung the hands of Lewes stopper Lauren Dolbear, who did well to punch it to safety. Lee almost turned provider shortly after, but saw her pull back fall just behind Graham and Lewes scrambled clear.

The first half was a little forgettable, with few clear-cut chances fashioned by either side – Georgia Bridges had a speculative, long-range effort saved by Alex Baker for the hosts before a Lee cross just evaded Avilla Bergin at the far post for the Addicks.

The game burst into life immediately after the restart, with Lewes skipper Katie McIntyre dragging a good chance wide of the target before Bergin had the best chance of the match to date just before the hour mark.

The ball was played through for the Northern Ireland international to latch onto but her accurate shot was superbly tipped over by Dolbear. From the resulting corner, taken by Bergin herself, Charlton’s captain for the day Katie Flack saw a shot on the turn scrambled off the line.

Charley Clifford then had a header saved by Dolbear, before Lee was thwarted by an excellent, last-ditch defensive challenge when she was on the verge of pulling the trigger.

As the Addicks began to move through the gears, Mishra decided it was time to unleash his more senior players, with Bottom, Dixson and Shepherd all taking to the field within 10 minutes of each other.

It was the latter two who combined to open the scoring – just four minutes after Shepherd had been brought on. The prolific striker was put through 25 yards out, knocked the ball past Rebecca Agbro-Thompson and was bundled to the floor by the defender. The centre half was booked and Dixson stepped up to clip in a wonderfully weighted set-piece for the unmarked Shepherd to nod over Dolbear.

And they had to wait just four more minutes until the tie was effectively over, with Graham slamming home into the corner from 20 yards out, giving Dolbear no chance. Clifford could have made it three in the space of six minutes, flashing a shot wide of the target from 25 yards.

The final action of the game saw Dolbear make another good save, this time to deny a powerful Graham free-kick but the Addicks had already done enough to secure the points.

Charlton: Baker, Flack, Nash, Coombs, Monaghan (Dixson 62), Clifford, Sullivan, Pepper (Shepherd 71), Bergin, Lee (Bottom 62), Graham.

Sub (not used): Southgate

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