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Charlton Athletic 2 Crystal Palace 1
Charlton Athletic moved up to third in the FA Women's Championship table with a dramatic 2-1 victory over South London rivals Crystal Palace.
Charley Clifford netted the winner with the final kick of the match, curling home from the edge of the area. There was a moment of suspense as an assistant's flag was raised but the goal was awarded after consultation, much to the annoyance of the Eagles, who had battled hard throughout.
Charlton took an early lead through Liz Ejupi, who had a fine match, slotting home from close range on 12 minutes after getting clear on the right. The hosts looked very threatening early on, Charlotte Gurr going close from distance, then Harley Bennett hitting the bar with Ejupi denied by Palace keeper Shanell Salgado from the rebound on 22 minutes.
Palace recovered well from the early pressure and started to find space in the Charlton half. Chloe Burr had their first effort on target, a rising effort well held by Katie Startup after 26 minutes.
The equaliser was set up by a Ciara Watling corner just before the break, the far post delivery met by a firm Jordan Butler header. Another Watling corner nearly gave Palace the lead in added time, the inswinging delivery dropping just beyond the far post.
After the break, Charlton's Lily Agg was denied by an excellent saving tackle by Hope Nash after Ejupi had played her in on goal on the hour. At the other end, Burr went close after a corner was half cleared and Startup had to be alert to make a double save as she met a dangerous through ball on 70 minutes.
Despite increasing home pressure, the Palace defence stood firm and looked to have earned a deserved point as Charlton were reduced to speculative long range shooting.
Deep into added time, Butler was penalised whilst challenging Agg on the edge of the area, in the centre of the goal. The initial shot by Gurr was blocked, Ejupi helped the rebound out to Clifford on the left edge of the area and the sub netted with a powerful effort beyond Salgado's dive into the far corner.
With so many former players of both clubs on duty, there was fierce commitment from both sides in a match played at a high tempo throughout. Palace were unlucky to lose from the last kick but can take heart from a strong display against one of the leading sides in the division, whose commitment to growing their support at home matches was rewarded with an attendance of 471.
Katie Startup, Charlotte Kerr, Grace Coombs, Amelia Ritchie, Ellie Bailes, Harley Bennett, Charlotte Gurr, Lilli Maple, Amber Stobbs, Lily Agg, Liz Ejupi. Subs: Gemma Bryan, Charley Clifford, Georgia Griffin, April Bowers.
Shanell Salgado, Jordan Butler, Anneka Nuttall, Hannah MacKenzie, Ria Collins, Pam McRoberts, Ciara Watling, Megan Chandler, Nikita Whinnett, Chloe Burr, Ashlee Hincks. Subs: Hope Nash, Andrea Giorgiou, Leesa Haydock, Jade Davenport, Amy Green.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Jordan Butler clears away from Liz Ejupi
(middle) Harley Bennett is tackled by Ashlee Hincks
(bottom) Nikita Whinnett tries to beat Katie Starrup with a shot, with Lilli Maple in close attendance
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