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Charlton defy odds to progress
 Women's Football News 28 Feb 2011
Charlton defy odds to progress - 28 Feb 2011 - Women's Football NewsReading FC Women 2 Charlton Athletic 2
Charlton won 5-4 on penalties

Charlton Athletic won a place in the Fifth Round of the FA Women's Cup with a penalty shootout victory after a
2-2 draw with Reading FC Women at Tadley on Sunday.
Reading had the much of the play and chances, especially after Charlton's Pam McRoberts was sent off for a goal line handball which meant that the Addicks played for 80 minutes with ten players. Charlton had built up a two-goal lead before conceding and losing McRoberts before the break. Despite many close calls, only Stacey Wiggins' header around the hour beat Charlton's strong defences to equalize. The visitors carved out a few chances on the break but Reading hit the woodwork in the final minutes and were denied on several occasions by brave defending and good handling by Megen Lynch.
Extra time could not separate the teams, nor the first set of penalties, but Charlton's Charley Clifford netted to seal a 5-4 win which sent the Addicks fans celebrating wildly and their trademark bell ringing long and loud.
The visitors took the lead in the seventh minute when Jenny Newman broke clear on the left corner of the area and drilled a fine rising finish into the roof of the net. Nikki Watts produced excellent set piece deliveries throughout for Reading and from a corner, Kelly Chambers had a header well tipped over on 11 minutes. Despite further close calls from corners and free kicks, it was Charlton who went two up when Francesca Ali netted witha perfect looping header from 15 yards.
The lead was short lived as another Watts corner caused havoc and a goalbound shot was handled away by McRoberts. Mikaela Howell netted from the spot and the visitors were down to ten on 40 minutes.
After the break, Reading stepped up the pace and showed why they are riding high in the National Division this season as they pushed forward to exert great pressure on the Charlton goal. Substitute Fran Kirby had a shot pushed away, then a Watts free kick from the right was met with a glancing header by Wiggins and the home team were level with half an hour to go. Fliss Gibbons went close on the counter as did Watts for Readng from another free kick which went inches over. As the pitch, which held up well in the face of several heavy showers, got heavier the chances got fewer until added time, when Reading struck the bar.
In extra time, Kirby had the best chance to win the match for Reading, as she outpaced the defence before shooting across goal and inches wide. Charley Clifford nearly stole the match for Charlton in the final minute with a powerful shot which Grace Moloney in the home goal tipped over. But progress was decided after a gruelling 120 minutes, in which both sets of players gave their all, by penalties.
The muddy goal area did not help either kickers or keepers but it was Lynch who saved two and scored the crucial fifth spot kick to send it into sudden death where Clifford drilled in the fourteenth spot kick to win it for Charlton by 5-4.
Both teams performed with great heart in unpleasant conditions but it is Charlton Athletic who will await the draw, with the entry of WSL teams, on Monday - perhaps recalling the recent times when they themselves were amongst the biggest names in the game.
Reading FC Women: Grace Moloney, Stacey Wiggins, Meg Alexander, Harriet Scott, Gemma Simms, Kelly Chambers, Mel Fletcher, Linda Hirons, Mikaela Howell, Meg Bradley, Nikki Watts. Subs: Fran Kirby, Jas Brewster, Orla Dimond, Charlotte Chard, Paige Vantuyken.

Charlton Athletic: Megen Lynch, Katie Flack, Stef Simmons, Francesca Ali, Becky Duggan, Megan Chandler, Pam McRoberts, Grace Coombs, Fliss Gibbons, Jenny Newman, Charley Clifford. Subs: Toni Alden, Sarah Smith, Rachel Ahern, Sam Rowland, Ciara Sherwood.

(Report by Patrick Higgins)

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