WOMEN'S TEAM | Charlton lift the Capital Cup for a fourth successive year

David Brenchley reports

Charlton continued their domination of the Capital Women’s Cup, winning the competition for the fourth successive season thanks to a 2-1 victory over Tottenham Hotspur at the Harry Abrahams Stadium on Tuesday evening.

A second one-goal victory over FA Women’s Premier League South champions Spurs in the space of three days means Charlton are the only team to have lifted the trophy – and they were the also the last team to win the competition in its previous guise, the London FA Women’s Cup.

They had to do it the hard way again as, like in Sunday’s match, they went a goal down but strikes from Charley Clifford and Player of the Match Kit Graham were enough to win the day.

Having rested players in the league meeting on Sunday, both sides were back to full strength, with first-team coach Riteesh Mishra reinstating Katie Flack, Charley Clifford and Graham to the starting XI in place of Hope Nash and the cup-tied duo Katie Bottom and Nicole Pepper.

The first half was a quiet affair. Centre back Rosey Sullivan had the first chance, but it was a speculative long ranger that failed to trouble Toni Anne-Wayne in the Spurs goal.

A promising-looking attack spearheaded by Graham was then abruptly brought to an end by a cynical almost last-man foul by Tottenham skipper Jenna Schillaci. The referee elected to give a free-kick to Charlton, but chose not to reach for his card.

If the lack of a card there was a surprise, the south-east Londoners were stunned not to have been awarded what looked like a certain penalty in first-half stoppage time when Graham was bundled over when striding through on goal, but the man in the middle was not moved.

The best chance of the opening period fell, unsurprisingly, to Charlton, when Gemma Shepherd’s clever, cute ball inside just eluded strike partner Graham and the opportunity went begging.

A spark was required after the interval to ignite the clash – and Graham had an early sighter from 25 yards out that was gathered by Wayne.

That spark eventually came three minutes into the half, and was totally against the run of play. Bianca Baptiste got free down the right-hand side and was given room to deliver an inch-perfect cross for the clinical Wendy Martin to head home.

Rather than let their heads go down, Charlton were straight back on the front foot from the restart.

In fact, they should have hit back immediately when Shepherd, who well and truly looked back to her brilliant best on the night, forced Wayne into a poor clearance and steadied herself to pull back for the onrushing Graham. However, for the only time in the tie the striker’s effort was off target, seeing her shot blazed well over.

Avilla Bergin, the former Spurs winger, then saw a curling shot easily gathered by Wayne, but her side were back on level terms just before the hour mark.

It was a bit of a scramble and, in the midst of it, difficult to make out exactly who got the final touch. An over-hit set piece was gathered at the back of the penalty area by Sullivan and she lofted into the danger zone where a number of players were waiting. It was central midfielder Clifford who rose to get her head to it and bundle it over the line and give her side a way back into the match.

All of a sudden, the game was open and there were plenty of chances in between, but the eventual winning goal came with 13 minutes left on the clock and was a superb move from Charlton as Shepherd played a ball through to Bergin to latch onto to the left of the penalty area.

The Northern Ireland international took it in her stride, looked up and pulled back to Graham, who had the goal at her mercy and she slammed home from 10 yards out.

Having lost twice to Spurs in their first two meetings of the season, before gaining a measure of revenge on them Sunday, the manner of victory goes to show the determination and character the side has.

There is still one match up between the pair to play, and it is the big one – the FAWPL Cup final at Stevenage FC on Sunday, May 7th. For now, though, the Addicks will enjoy their celebrations.

Charlton: Baker, Flack, Dixson, Sullivan, Coombs, Clifford, Shepherd, Bergin (Nash 88), Graham, Monaghan (Lee 81), Southgate.

Subs (not used): Cooper, Jackson, Dunne.

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