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Charlton Athletic 1 Cardiff City 2
Cardiff City gained a vital win in their late Southern Division promotion push with a 2-1 away victory over leaders Charlton Athletic.
After going behind to a 17th minute Fliss Gibbons goal, the Bluebirds roared back with two quality finishes to lead at the break. Charlton, who only needed to avoid defeat to virtually seal a National Division place, piled on the pressure but Cardiff stood firm and twice went close to extending their lead.
A tight opening quarter of an hour saw little goalmouth action but the home side achieved the breakthrough when keeper Rhian Nokes punched a dangerous inswinging corner only as far as Gibbons, who returned it into the roof of the net. Cardiff gave Charlton a warning when Zoe Atkins forced a fine diving save from Megen Lynch after breaking clear and shooting from 20 yards.
An Ellie Davies long throw was headed clear by Charley Clifford on 25 minutes and there seemed little danger as the ball reached Sophie Ingle 30 yards out. However, the Cardiff midfielder hit a superb first time drive which arrowed into the bottom left corner, giving Lynch no chance.
Charlton's Francesca Ali was denied the chance to shoot from close in by a fine tackle by Kayleigh Green whilst Cardiff's Welsh international midweek hat-trick debutant Amie Lea was inches from
converting Ingle's free kick on 35 minutes.
It was Natasha Harding who gave Cardiff the lead on 40 minutes, running on to a through ball and
angling a 15-yard drive beyond Lynch into the same corner as the first goal.
Charlton needed a fast start and Gemma Bryan produced a fine run into the area but her shot was blocked by Nokes' legs. Although Charlton continued to press, Nicola Cousins and Terri Beddows were very solid in the centre of the Welsh team's back four and although Stef Simmons, Gibbons and Jenny Newman often found good positions on the wings, Cardiff managed to protect Nokes very effectively.
Having lost Atkins and Lea to injury, Cardiff were forced to reshuffle up front, but were very dangerous at times as Charlton pushed on. Davies got through and was denied by a good block by Lynch, who did even better to turn away at full stretch a long range follow up from Danielle Broadhurst which was
destined for the top corner.
An unfortunate injury which saw Megan Chandler stretchered off led to several minutes of added time during which Charlton laid siege to the Cardiff goal but could not find a way past a very committed and well disciplined defence and midfield.
Charlton, despite this setback, have another chance to clinch promotion and the Southern Division title against Queens Park Rangers on Tuesday evening. Cardiff have a home game against mid-table Colchester United before a potentially crucial encounter away to Keynsham Town on May 8th.
Charlton Athletic: Megen Lynch, Katie Flack, Stef Simmons, Kim Dixson, Francesca Ali, Megan Chandler, Jenny Newman, Grace Coombs, Fliss Gibbons, Gemma Bryan, Charley Clifford. Subs: Pam McRoberts, Ciara Sherwood, Ellie Bailes.
Cardiff City: Rhian Nokes, Amie Lea, Terri Beddows, Ellie Davies, Danielle Broadhurst, Sophie Ingle, Natasha Harding, Nicola Cousins, Zoe Atkins, Kayleigh Green, Nia Jones. Subs: Ellie Smith, Lisa Bird, Bethan Lloyd.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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