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Queen's Park Rangers made a successful start to their Premier League campaign after eight seasons in the Combination leagues with a narrow 1-0 victory over Charlton Athletic at AFC Hayes on Sunday.
In fact they had several great opportunities to have made the game safe but were unable to take them, which gave a spirited young Charlton team hope of a draw right up to the final whistle.
Charlton started confidently and created the first chance when Rosi Webb broke clear but her shot was well saved by Rangers keeper Emily Bourne. Cherelle Albert fired a warning shot just wide before Seun Odeniyi exchanged passes with Malin Engman and drilled a shot beyond Megan Lynch on 14 minutes.
Charlton had plenty of the ball in threatening areas but lacked a cutting edge to match good approach play and accurate crossing. This pattern continued in the opening twenty minues of the second half with the South London team pressing forwards down the slope and putting the Rangers back four under pressure.
Bourne was forced into a scrambling save to her left and Emma Tune went close with a shot from the edge of the area but the defence remained solid and eventually Rangers began to threaten again. On 67 minutes, Engman was played in, rode a challenge from the keeper which clipped her and hit the post from a tight angle.
Albert also coolly rounded the keeper on 70 minutes but then amazingly steered her shot wide from eight yards. Rangers nearly paid the price as Gemma Bryan netted two minutes later but was adjudged offside.
Chances for Rangers came and went, substitute Camilla Ray being just unable to reach a far post cross and Albert being denied by a superb Grace Coombs tackle. Charlton battled right to the end with Webb and Gemma Bryan supplemented by pacy substitute Kristina Manktelow but the hard working Rangers team held out comfortably for a fine victory.
Charlton, hit by injuries and players departing to other clubs, played some neat football with several very promising young players on show while Rangers gave a fine team performance full of solid defending and closing opponents down by players who successfully maintained the momentum of their victorious Combination campaign.
QPR: Emily Bourne, Mel Bidewell, Ceryl Guard, Simone Dwyer, Nicki Crump, Seun Odeniyi, Suzie Wylie, Tammy Scrivens, Cherelle Albert, Malin Engman, Elly Maggs. Subs: Camilla Ray, Shona Chitate, Kerri Coombs, Zoe Dalton, Yasmin Bamford.
Charlton Athletic: Megan Lynch, Emma Wood, Toni Alden, Charley Clifford, Grace Coombs, Vanisha Patel, Jennifer Smith, Emma Tune, Rosi Webb, Gemma Bryan, Ciara Sherwood. Subs: Stacey Little, Kristina Manktelow, Yasmin Poole.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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