Charlton Athletic 1-4 Cardiff City - The girls' have given us their heart and soul, says Charlton Athletic coach Michael Paye
Charlton Athletic 1 – 4 Cardiff City
|Location||Bayliss Avenue, Thamesmead, London SE28 8NJ|
CHARLTON ATHLETIC 1-4 CARDIFF CITY
The FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division
Sunday 10th April 2015
Stephen McCartney reports from Bayliss Avenue
CHARLTON ATHLETIC assistant manager Michael Paye says his players’ were suffering from tiredness after their unbeaten home record went in their penultimate game of a fantastic cup treble winning campaign.
This was The Addicks’ 40th game of the season, going into this FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division game sitting in third-place in the table on 45 points from 20 games.
Charlton Athletic have celebrated a successful cup campaign having bagged the Ryman Women’s Cup, League Cup and the London Capital Cup and were also knocked out on penalties by Super League Everton in the last eight of The FA Women’s Cup.
But their Welsh visitors’ completed their campaign in fourth-place on the same number of points after inflicting Charlton Athletic’s first home league defeat of the season at a warm and sun-kissed Bayliss Avenue in Thamesmead.
A blunder from Charlton keeper Megen Lynch gifted Cardiff City a first half lead as left-wing back Laura Williams netted her sixth goal of the season.
Cardiff City striker Hope Suominen drilled in a second during the early stages of the second half, before Kit Graham chipped in her 53rd goal of the season with nine minutes left to bring Charlton back in the game.
But clinical Cardiff killed the game off with two late goals through Cori Williams’ 21st of the season and Kerry Bartlett came off the bench to score the last goal of the game.
“We just got the girls’ together afterwards and those were the exact words – we just said to them it’s just a game too far,” admitted Paye after only their fourth league defeat of the season.
“You look back over the last four or five weeks and the intensity through The FA Cup, the Premier Cup and the other one, it’s just too far really. The girls’ are tired. We’ve got girls’ playing with their injuries and what can you do?
“We just said to the girls’ we’ve had a great season. We’ve done really well. We lost a couple of games early on in the season but it’s just very, very disappointing (to lose our unbeaten home league record).”
Charlton Athletic manager Jeremy Parsons told his players to “concentrate” as they walked out from the tunnel and they created an opening after only 19 seconds when their two strikers linked up well.
Gemma Shepherd played the ball into Graham, but she steered her shot past the near post.
Cardiff City, who went into the game having failed to beat the Londoners in three attempts, lined up with three at the back, two wing-backs, two sitting in front of the back three, a player in the hole and two strikers and they were hard to break down in the first half.
Strikers Suominen and Naomi Clipston linked up well down the left for Cardiff and Cori Williams’ first time left-footed drive from 22-yards sailed over the crossbar.
Cardiff skipper Abbie Britton then swept a free-kick towards the edge of the Charlton box where Michelle Green’s hooked shot was easily gathered by Lynch.
A lay-off by Charlton skipper Kim Dixson set up an opportunity for Shepherd, cracking a right-footed drive just over the crossbar, before another chance fell to the number 10, her shot bouncing into the hands of visiting keeper Laura O’Sullivan.
Cardiff created a good opportunity when Cori Williams swung in a free-kick from the right with her left foot and Britton planted her free header past the left-hand post from sixteen-yards.
Charlton Athletic’s best chance of the first half soon followed when a big kick from Lynch found Emma Harrison down the left flank and Graham played a slick one-two with Shepherd to cut into the penalty area but her shot glanced off defender Nia Jones for O’Sullivan to grab the ball at her near post.
But Cardiff City were gifted the lead in the 23rd minute, following an embarrassing goalkeeping blunder from Lynch.
Cardiff were awarded a free-kick down the right some 30-yards from goal and Laura Williams swept a hopeful free-kick into the box.
However, the ball bounced a yard in front of Lynch, who in an attempt to drop down onto her knees, inexclicably let the ball go past her hands and in between her legs to bounce into the middle of an empty net.
“Again, Megen, what can you say? She’s been one of our stronger players and she’s made a mistake. These things happen, that’s football,” said Paye.
This pumped Charlton Athletic into life for a brief moment and full-back Stef Simmons whipped in a cross from the left towards the far post where Dixson planted her header over the bar.
But Charlton Athletic were denied an equaliser just past the half-hour mark.
Dixson played a short corner to Amy Howlett, whose cross from the left by-line was cleared out to Graham, whose powerful drive was blocked on the line by Laura Williams as it was destined to find the bottom far corner of the net.
Cardiff City created the last chance of the first half when Clipston’s right-footed drive from 30-yards screamed past the left-hand post after reacting to a headed clearance.
When asked his thoughts at the break, Paye replied: “We just said to the girls’ that we’ve got to press higher up the pitch. Gemma (Shepherd) was dropped off too much so we was going to push Gemma up high, get our two wide people, who were too far advanced as well so we wanted Kim and Charley more chance in midfield to compete more because they was over running us a little it.
“We wanted to play out from the back a little bit more, be a bit more confident. We were kicking the ball long and we wanted to get the ball down and play out.”
Cardiff City keeper O’Sullivan made a great save after only 39 seconds, using her left hand to push over Charley Clifford’s right-footed drive from 30-yards.
Paye added: “Charley’s been playing with an ankle injury and I commend her really for today to even put some boots on her. She’s done really well.”
But Charlton Athletic were facing a mountain to climb when Cardiff City grabbed their second goal with only 158 seconds gone.
Cori Williams played the ball into Suominen’s feet, who drilled her right-footed shot into the bottom near corner from 20-yards.
“One of their goals was a good goal but the other three really, I think early on in the season we wouldn’t be conceding those goals, very disappointing,” said Paye.
Charlton Athletic responded well from that blow as Graham set-up Shepherd, whose right-footed drive from 25-yards was saved low to her left by O’Sullivan.
This sparked a flurry of chances for the home side.
“We’ve had our chances. We could have got back into the game but it just hasn’t happened today,” admitted Paye.
“Just look around that extra 5-10% which you need to give to just keep your performance up to where we have been over the last eight, nine, ten games just wasn’t there today and these things happen when it’s like that.”
Graham failed to keep her header on target as she planted the ball just over the bar after Dixson drove in her corner from the right.
But Green, one of the two players protecting Cardiff’s three central defenders, joined in with an attack to sweep her shot straight at Lynch after Clipston’s cross came back out to her.
Charlton Athletic switched their formation with three at the back after Rosie Paye came on for right-back Ruby Southgate and joined Katie Flack and Simmons at the back.
Charlton Athletic were denied at the halfway mark when Dixson’s right-footed free-kick from 28-yards went over the wall and forced O’Sullivan to make her second smart save, diving to her right to push the ball around the post.
Substitute Nikita Whinnett added some spark to Charlton’s play and her right-footed drive from 30-yards was caught by the Cardiff keeper.
Simmons swung in a free-kick from the right but Rosie Paye’s back-header from fifteen-yards was never going to trouble O’Sullivan.
Graham, 19, netted her 53rd goal of the season to bring Charlton Athletic back into the game with nine minutes left.
Whinnett clipped her cross into the penalty area and the goal-machine nipped in front of O’Sullivan to chip the ball over her head and into the back of the net from 18-yards – with 35:58 on the clock.
Paye said: “Kit’s had an amazing season with what 53 goals? What can you say?
“She’s entitled to miss one every now and then. We won’t be beating her up about that (first half chance).
Of all the sides that this website covers, Graham is just one goal behind James McDonald, who finished the season on 54 goals while playing for Kent Invicta League side Hollands & Blair.
Cardiff were visibly rattled and Charlton Athletic went agonisingly close to grabbing an equaliser – with 37:49 on the clock.
Ipswich-based winger Howlett swept in a great cross from the right and Sam Pittuck’s free-header from 12-yards dropped down and bounced off the foot of the far post.
Paye said: “Amy’s done well down the right today, she’s got some nice crosses in. We pushed Sam up a little bit from centre back and she’s done well to get her head on it but just some days it just doesn’t happen for you!”
But any chances of a late comeback were dealt a blow as Cardiff scored their third goal – with 38:40 on the clock.
Clipston played the ball in behind the Charlton defence to put Cori Williams through on goal and her initial shot was blocked by Lynch, clawing the ball away high to her right – but the holding midfielder’s right-footed chip dropped in underneath the crossbar.
“She saved it and it went back straight to her and she’s put it in the net,” said Paye.
“It just seems I’m repeating myself really. When it’s not going to happen for you, it’s just not going to happen!”
Charlton Athletic went close following their fifth and final corner.
Dixson whipped in the ball from the left and Cardiff cleared their lines and the ball came out to Flack, drilling her right-footed shot just over the bar.
But Cardiff wrapped up the game with their fourth goal with 44:51 on the clock.
Hannah Mills hit the ball up to Bartlett, who let the ball bounce inside the penalty area, before drilling her right-footed shot past Lynch from 12-yards.
But by then, the game was up for Charlton Athletic, who complete their 41-game campaign with a home game against fourth-from-bottom Plymouth Argyle at Bayliss Avenue next Sunday.
“Just coming back to what we said to the girls’ out there, we’ve got three pieces of silverware upstairs. The girls’ have given to Jeremy and I their heart and soul for the last three months and I’m not going to sit there and condemn them for just letting it slip, especially when we can’t win the league now. It may have been different if we could but a game too far springs to mind. That’s what I think it was.”
Looking ahead of the closing game with Charlton Athletic sitting in third, 11 points behind champions Portsmouth, Paye wants to sign off the campaign on a high note.
“We’ve just said to the girls’, we’ve got to turn up and finish the season in the manner that we’ve played all season and hopefully we’ll get a win and then we can relax and have a bit of rest before coming back to pre-season.”
Paye, 48, was one of four managers to take charge of team affairs of Cray Wanderers before moving upstairs to the boardroom to concentrate on the club’s bid to move to Flamingo Park.
When asked about life in the dug-out and in the boardroom, Paye, who is one of three investors at the Ryman League club, replied: “I played for Charlton many years ago so the football side of it, for me is where my heart is but work commitments and stuff like that I can’t give the amount of time that is needed to be a manager at this level.
“Jel has asked me to help him here until the end of the season. What happens next year is up to Stephen (King, chairman) and Sue (Prior, secretary) and we’ll see what happens.”
Meanwhile, Gillingham lost their FA Women’s Premier League Southern Division status today after Copsewood leapfrogged over them in the table following their 3-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur.
The Kent side finished their campaign in the bottom two on 15 points and are relegated with Keynsham Town.
Charlton Athletic: Megen Lynch, Ruby Southgate (Rosie Paye 61), Stef Simmons, Kim Dixson, Katie Flack, Sam Pittuck, Emma Harrison (Nikita Whinnett 65), Charley Clifford (Charlie Spice 76), Kit Graham, Gemma Shepherd, Amy Howlett.
Goal: Kit Graham 81
Cardiff City: Laura O’Sullivan, Hannah Mills, Samantha Hallsworth, Abbie Britton , Nia Jones, Michelle Green, Kelly Isaac, Hope Suominen (Jess Osborne 89), Naomi Clipston, Cori Williams, Laura Williams (Kerry Bartlett 76).
Goals: Laura Williams 23, Hope Suominen 48, Cori Williams 84, Kerry Bartlett 90
Referee: Mr Stephen Tate (Leigh-on-Sea, Essex)
Assistants: Mr Sikiru Idris (Camberwell, London SE5) & Mr Alan Hill (Welling)