Charlton Women beat Crystal Palace in FA Cup

David Brenchley recaps the cup victory for Charlton women's team over Crystal Palace.

Two late goals fired the Charlton women’s team into the second round of the FA Women’s Cup as they came from behind to deservedly defeat Crystal Palace 2-1 at Selhurst Park on Sunday.

The Addicks struggled to deal with their fired up opponents for large parts and went a goal down after 40 minutes when a Pamela McRoberts cross flew over goalkeeper Alex Baker.

But, as the hosts tired late on, Charlton pressed and were rewarded for their efforts as goals from Rosey Sullivan and Charley Clifford saw them come out victorious.

Manager Paul McDonagh made just the one change from the side that defeated Portsmouth 4-2 last weekend, with new signing Bupe Okeowo in for midfielder Giorgia Dunne. Elsewhere, Jenny Newman returned from injury to take her place on the bench.

Palace made their intentions clear from the off, pressing Charlton relentlessly and forcing their opponents into mistakes both in the final third and defensively. Bryan in particular was a danger throughout, testing Baker early on a couple of times.

It was Clifford, playing in an advanced midfield position, who looked most likely of the visitors’ side to net in the first period, seeing a well-struck volley saved by Palace keeper Chanelle Yardley on 10 minutes.

However, those mistakes alluded to previously by Charlton’s defence could, and probably should, have cost them dearly, with Grace Coombs first up to gift the ball to Rochelle Shakes on the edge of her own area; but the centre half made amends with a crucial challenge to snuff out the danger. Another loose pass in defence allowed Bryan in, but she could only fire wide.

The former Charlton striker had a string of chances to get on the scoresheet, curling a one-on-one chance wide under pressure from Addicks custodian Baker.

In between Clifford went close, heading an Avilla Bergin set piece narrowly wide of the target before Ellie Bailes, down the other end, shanked a good opportunity wide from a corner.

There were five minutes to play before the interval when Palace struck – Charlton’s defence falling asleep when Palace had a corner. McRoberts was alert and knocked it short before lofting the return pass under Baker’s nose, but the keeper got caught out and couldn’t reach it as the ball floated over her and into the top corner.

If Charlton were on the back foot for the majority of the first period, it was a different story after the interval; as Palace’s high-intensity game saw them fade in the closing stages, Charlton ramped up the pressure and pushed to get themselves on level terms.

Bryan was still threatening to get herself on the scoresheet, but couldn’t find her shooting boots. Up the other end, Charlton were getting closer: Graham heading a Katie Flack cross wide before Charlotte Lee saw her centre just elude Kim Dixson, who was waiting inside the six-yard box.

Bergin was unfortunate to see her long-range piledriver tipped wide by the stretching Yardley just shy of the hour mark and Graham had a snapshot on the turn that flew just wide of the target.

There was 12 minutes on the clock when the breakthrough came – and from then on there was only ever going to be one winner. A whipped corner came over from the left and Graham saw her effort cannon back off the crossbar. The visiting supporters could have been forgiven for thinking it was

not to be their day, but the ball rebounded kindly for Sullivan, who leapt to head over Yardley and in to restore parity.

It took 11 minutes more of play, but the winning goal came at an opportune moment – with just one minute of normal time to play – and led to a mixture of relief and pure joy for those visiting fans and players.

Bergin won a free kick on the left of the area 25 yards out that was floated into the penalty box by Sullivan. The delivery caused mayhem in the Palace defence and, after a couple of ricochets fell to Clifford, who slammed home her fourth goal in three matches to complete the comeback.

Charlton will now face Portsmouth in the FA Women’s Cup Second Round at Sporting Club Thamesmead on Sunday 8 January. It will be the third time the pair have clashed this season, with Charlton coming from behind to win 4-2 both times.

Charlton: Baker, Flack, Southgate (Nash 90), Dixson, Sullivan, Coombs, Clifford, Bergin, Okeowo (Newman 80), Lee (Monaghan 69), Graham. Subs (not used): Jeffkins, Pearch.

Photo credit: Karen Cleaver