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South East League team Canterbury City have only been in existence for two seasons and have twice reached the last four of the Kent County Cup.
Last year they lost in extra time to Millwall Lionesses Res and this season's run was halted by a talented young Charlton team at Canterbury High School on Sunday. However the home team, who have already made great progress under the dynamic leadership of manager Lorna Shillling and coach Angie Dutton, put up a real fight by holding on to the lead until after the hour and going very close to taking their Premier League Reserves Southern Division Two opponents to extra time. With the score 2-1 in Charlton's favour, home forward Debbie Burgess hit the post and a shot from the rebound was blocked on the line with Charlton keeper Sian Jenkins beaten.
In fairness though, Charlton deserved that bit of luck as they had created a host of chances wth their pacy forwards and speed of thought and execution. The fact that Canterbury were still in the match was down to brilliant goalkeeping by Sarah Hardy including a penalty save from Mikayla Hale on 54 minutes and fine displays from centre backs Vicky Fusco and Jenny Collins.
Canterbury had taken the lead on 25 minutes when Hannah Gardner latched on to a big Hardy clearance and finished well from 15 yards. Charlton saw a goal by Rosie Webb ruled out seven minutes later and Ciara Sherwood shot just over from 30 yards just before the break.
Hardy made three fine saves at the start of the second half as Charlton turned up the heat. When Charlton skipper Katie Flack was brought down for the penalty, Hardy dived low to her right to push it away. However, the visitors were not to be denied and Mary Onianwa equalised with a low shot on 65 minutes - a just reward for a fine performance throughout from the experienced striker. The same short corner routine which had caused the penalty led to the crucial third goal as a Flack cross was headed powerfully home by Danielle Reid. Charlton sealed their Cup final place when substitute Jade Johnson converted a breakaway just seconds after replacing Oninawa on 88 minutes.
Canterbury had given all they could - had they equalised on 87 minutes they would not have let in the third, but Charlton had created much more and deserved the win on the day. Canterbury City have a well organised team with talented individuals who will challenge for League and League Cup honours as they complete only their second season. Charlton will contest the final and showed that the new era is built on solid foundations as their senior team challenges for a return to the National Division.
Canterbury City: Sarah Hardy, Crystal Trotter, Jenny Collins, Kirsty Dowle, Vicky Fusco, Becky Scott, Debbie Blackman, Avril Spary, Debbie Burgess, Hannah Gardner, Micha Bailey (sub Carmela Emekwue 18mins). Subs not used: Angie Dutton, Lorna Baker.
Charlton: Sian Jenkins, Katie Flack, Danielle Reid, Mikayla Hale, Rebecca Roll, Emily Gerke, Jenny Newman, Ciara Sherwood, Rosie Webb (sub Toni Alden 70mins), Mary Onianwa (sub Jade Johnson 88mins), Jessica Creighton (sub Lucy Stilwell 60mins). Sub not used: Charlotte Bennett.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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