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Charlton Athletic 3 West Ham Utd 0
Charlton Athletic moved to the top of the Southern Division of the Premier League on goal difference from Keynsham Town with a fine 3-0 victory over previous leaders West Ham United who drop to third.
In their first home match after nine successive away trips in League and various Cups, Charlton gave a commanding team performance, blitzing the Hammers with three first half goals in eighteen minutes, then repelling a good fight back in the second half and still creating chances themselves through fine counter attacking play.
The first quarter of an hour gave no clue to the outcome, a frantic paced midfield battle with no clear cut chances. Fliss Gibbons' opening goal came as she cut into the area on the left and struck a fierce shot into the opposite corner on 17 minutes.
The league's leading scorer, Gemma Bryan, added a superb second, a powerful diagonal run taking her past three defenders before beating Toni-Anne Wayne with a right foot drive back across goal. Bryan then earned and converted a penalty five minutes later, having been hauled back when bearlng down on goal to leave Charlton three up in thirty five minutes.
West Ham had just one decent strike on goal before the break, a Jo Woodgates free kick well held by Megen Lynch.
The Hammers needed to start the second half well and they certainly stepped up their game to test out the Addicks defence. The best opening came when a Woodgates free kick was only half cleared and Stacey Little's shot was cleared off the line by Becky Duggan on 57 minutes.
Charlton were still creating chances with Jenny Newman firing just wide from a tight angle and Gibbons being denied by a fine Tracey Duxbury tackle. West Ham also continued to threaten, Charlton skipper Katie Flack denying the Hammers with a brave header before being substituted with a facial injury after another goalmouth scramble.
Charlton's Kim Dixson, Charley Clifford and Fran Ali were particularly busy in midfield and they attacked fluently at times, Dixson was inches from adding a fourth as she burst into the penalty area in the final minutes.
With Charlton's final four matches of the season coming up in the next sixteen days, this result and the manner of the performance must give Paul Mortimer's team great confidence. West Ham and Keynsham will look to exploit any slip ups by the new league leaders with Portsmouth and Cardiff City also in contention for the two promotion places.
Charlton Athletic: Megen Lynch, Katie Flack, Stef Simmons, Kim Dixson, Becky Duggan, Francesca Ali, Jenny Newman, Grace Coombs, Fliss Gibbons, Charley Clifford, Gemma Bryan. Subs: Ellie Bailes, Toni Alden, Pam McRoberts, Rachael Ahern.
West Ham United: Toni-Anne Wayne, Danica Revell, Jess Barling, Carly Roache, Rosey Sullivan, Natalie Grafton, Stacey Little, Jo Woodgates, Tracey Duxbury, Nina Downham, Becky Merritt. Subs: Kayleigh Xidhas, Jo Wasalho, Katie Bottom.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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