Match Report: #CAFCWomen 4 QPR 1

A Kit Graham brace led the Charlton women’s team to a second ‘double’ in the space of a week as they defeated Queens Park Rangers 4-1 at Honeycroft on Thursday.

The Addicks had won the previous encounter at home 5-0 and this latest victory came hot on the heels of their second win of the season against Keynsham Town.

Emma Harrison and Stef Simmons were also on the scoresheet as Charlton came from a goal down to move up to third in the FA Women’s Premier League South.

The visitors made two changes from the Keynsham win, with Ruby Southgate and Emma Harrison restored to the starting line up in place of Rosie Paye and Megan Mulholland.

imageBut they got off to the worst possible start when, just three minutes in, a ball over the top from Rangers captain Elly Maggs found Stacey Sowden, who rounded goalkeeper Megen Lynch to open the scoring.

They could have then doubled their advantage shortly after when Sowden again got free behind the Charlton defence and pulled back for Laura Cooper but the midfielder scuffed her effort wide.

After what looked like a nervy start in west London, the away side grew into the contest and were in the lead on the quarter of an hour mark.

The first goal, on 11 minutes, came from a lightning-quick counter attack as Graham picked the ball up when a QPR corner was cleared and released Gemma Shepherd down the right.

Shepherd drove down the right flank, with Harrison bursting into the penalty area, and slid the ball into the six-yard box where Harrison nipped in between two defenders and swept home the cross.

Just four minutes later and the tables had been turned, in what was an end-to-end first period.

Left back Simmons managed to get to the ball seconds before the hosts’ right back and powered a thunderous 30-yard effort that sailed over the stranded Joanne Ayre and in.

Still QPR had chances to restore parity, with Sowden their main threat. The goalscorer guided a Sophie Fogarty centre just wide before spurning a one-on-one chance when her side launched a counter attack of their own but Lynch stood up well to foil her.

And they were to regret their missed chances just before the half-hour mark, when Charlton added to their advantage.

The ever-dangerous Graham skipped her way past three QPR defenders and into the box where her first shot was blocked but the attacker, who now has 14 goals in just seven games this season, reacted quickest to stab home the rebound.

Sam Pittuck had a couple of good chances to find her way onto the scoresheet: Graham played a fine through ball but the striker’s shot was comfortably saved by Ayre. Pittuck then saw a first-time lob beat Ayre but not the far post.

The half ended with chances for both sides: Charlton captain Katie Flack deflected a Soden shot wide, while Charley Clifford’s looping volley spun just past the upright.

After a thrilling first period, the second was more a battle of wills, with QPR trying to find a way back into the game and Charlton trying to boost their goal difference further.

Clifford and Graham saw speculative long-range efforts fly wide, while a Grace Coombs ball found Shepherd but her shot was poked straight at Ayre.

The home side’ best chance of the second half came from a Sarah Staples corner, as Cooper rose highest but her header flew wide of the far post.

With that, it was left to Graham to finish the contest with her second of the game, a goal that took her up to fourth in the list of overall top goalscorers for Charlton with 40.

Clifford’s corner was headed at the near post by a QPR defender but the attempted clearance only fell to Graham, who volleyed a snapshot into the far corner.

It would have been five were it not for a last-ditch clearance from Kasha Petit with Shepherd looking set to convert a cross from substitute Olivia Cole.

This Sunday, Charlton are back at Sporting Club Thamesmead, with a clash against league leaders Brighton and Hove Albion.

Charlton: Lynch, Southgate (Paye 69), Simmons (Hardaker 76), Flack, Coombs, Clifford, Howlett, Harrison, Graham, Shepherd, Pittuck (Cole 81). Sub (not used): Baker.