WOMEN’S TEAM | Impressive Addicks end Spurs’ unbeaten run

David Brenchley reports

Charton ended FA Women’s Premier League South champions Tottenham Hotspur’s unbeaten league record on Sunday by earning a hard-fought 3-2 victory at New River Sports Ground.

Both sides fielded changed sides, with a number of their big-hitters rested ahead of the Capital Cup final between the pair on Tuesday. Leading scorer Kit Graham, Charley Clifford, Katie Flack and Avilla Bergin were four of note on Charlton’s bench to start with.

Midfielders Kim Dixson and Katie Bottom, defender Katie Flack and striker Gemma Shepherd were restored to the starting XI, having missed out last time around.

After the Addicks had given their opponents a guard of honour for their title victory, it was down to business and Charlton came out of the blocks well, with skipper Dixson having a couple of early long-range efforts saved by Megen Lynch.

But it was the hosts who were to strike first, in the most bizarre and fortuitous circumstances as Charlton centre back Grace Coombs attempted to nick the ball off Kelley Blanchflower 30 yards out but ended up blasting the ball goalwards and it flew over her own keeper and in.

Coombs almost made amends immediately when she deflected a ball into the penalty area from defensive partner Rosey Sullivan towards the right goal this time, but Lynch parried the effort to safety. Coombs then headed a corner on target but former Charlton stopper Lynch was equal to it yet again.

There were four minutes played at the end of the first period and the visitors managed to get back level, with young midfielder Daisy Monaghan flicking on a delightful pass to Shepherd, who curled over Lynch with the outside of her boot.

Shepherd was close to a second not long after, curling a free kick agonisingly over from 20 yards out. Dixson had yet another chance from range, this time unleashing a powerful volley that was flapped away by Lynch.

First-team coach Riteesh Mishra waited until just six minutes into the second half to unleash the first of his array of talent sitting alongside him in the dugout, with Graham replacing Shepherd.

And it took the clinical striker all of four minutes to make her mark. Controlling Coombs’ measured ball forward, he turned her marker with ease and stroked into the corner of the goal to give her side their first lead over Tottenham in 235 minutes of football played so far this season.

She almost added a second moments later, poking past Lynch but wide of the target also.

It was on the hour mark that Spurs brought on the first part of their cavalry, with Bianca Baptiste entering the field of play and nearly having as big an immediate impact as Graham. Her cross-shot flew across Baker’s goalmouth and just eluded Nikita Whinnett at the back post.

Mishra’s answer was to bring former Spurs winger Bergin on – and, yet again, his replacement had the desired effect just minutes after it took place. Having been on the pitch for just three minutes, the Northern Ireland international timed her run to perfection to latch onto a wonderful slide-rule pass from Graham, rounded Lynch and fired home from an acute angle.

Tottenham made it a nervy final 12 minutes for Charlton when youngster Andrea Georgiou guided a beauty of a strike into the top corner, giving Baker no chance.

However, Charlton defended heroically in the remaining minutes to make sure they won their penultimate league encounter of the campaign.

Charlton: Baker, Dixson, Sullivan, Coombs, Shepherd (Graham 51), Pepper, Lee, Bottom, Nash, Monaghan, Southgate.

Subs (not used): Clifford, Dunne.

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