A late Shauna Vassell debut strike ensured Charlton Athletic Women shared the spoils with local rivals Crystal Palace, having seen fellow newbie Jess King’s early opener cancelled out by first-half goals from Bianca Baptiste and Cherelle Khassal.
Manager Riteesh Mishra gave first starts to new signings King, Ella Powell and Beth Lumsden, while loanee Katie Startup was parachuted in between the sticks having re-joined this week.
And it was the perfect start for the Addicks, when just six minutes in the front-line pressured Palace’s defence into a mistake, with keeper Chloe Morgan attempting to play across goal but only finding King on the edge of the area. The former Lewes striker made no mistake in slotting into an empty net.
However, there was barely time for the hosts to tweet the opening goal of the 2020/21 season before the visitors were on level terms. A mistake in the Charlton defence allowed Siobhan Wilson to cross for Baptiste to head past Startup and level less than 120 seconds later.
After a fast-paced opening 10 minutes, the game settled down into a tight affair, with both sides having their fair share of chances. For Charlton, a couple of dangerous Lumsden corners were not converted.
And it was the home side that went closest to getting their noses back in front when captain Grace Coombs clipped a free kick into King. The striker took the ball in her stride, turned her marker and struck towards goal, but the shot grazed the top of the bar.
On the half hour mark, though, it was Palace who took the lead when a seemingly harmless Khassal shot from long range snuck underneath Startup’s diving body and in.
Again, the final 15 minutes of the first period were tight, with Lumsden and Clifford going close for Charlton, with chances for the visitors, as well.
Palace perhaps shaded the chances in the second half, with some good defensive work from Powell denying what seemed sure to be a third and Lizzie Waldie heading well over when unmarked 10 yards out. In between, substitute Ella Rutherford sent a free kick high and wide of the Palace goal.
In the end, it was a double substitution by Mishra that clinched a crucial point for Charlton, with Vassell and Ellie Dorey entering the field of play with just nine minutes remaining for the impressive Lumsden and Powell.
And Dorey was instrumental in the leveller, playing King in after good work. King again showed strength to turn her marker and power a shot on goal that was parried by Morgan straight to Vassell, who turned the rebound home for her first goal in senior football.
Charlton travel to Lancashire to face Blackburn Rovers next Sunday, before taking a break from action the following weekend.
Charlton: Startup, Newborough, Griffiths, Coombs ©, Clifford (Watling 70), King, Powell (Vassell 81), Gotch (Rutherford 55, Laudat 70), Legg, Heuchan, Lumsden (Dorey 81). Subs (not used): Campbell, Ivison.
Goals: King 6, Vassell 88.
Yellow cards: Griffiths, Newborough.
Crystal Palace: Morgan, Johnson, Nicol (Hurley 63), Baptiste, Khassal (Natkiel 71), Wilson (Goddard 71), Waldie, Rutherford, Haines (Gaylor 85), Morgan, Churchill. Subs (not used): Clifford, Georgiou, Taylor, Gibbon.
Goals: Baptiste 8, Khassal 30.
Yellow cards: Nicol, Goddard.
[Report by David Brenchley]