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Shepherd edges Charlton through
 Women's Football News 28 Jan 2013
Shepherd edges Charlton through - 28 Jan 2013 - Women's Football NewsWatford 0 Charlton Athletic 1 (after extra time)
Charlton Athletic clinched a place in the quarter finals of the FA Women's Premier League Cup with a last gasp Gemma Shepherd goal to knock out Watford and earn an away tie with Leeds United. 
After an even contest which seemed destined to be settled by penalties, Shepherd struck an excellent opportunist effort to end Watford's unbeaten run.
On a surface seemingly unaffected by the recent extremes of weather, it was Charlton created the better early chances, Jenny Newman twice finding space on the right to fire in low shots which Lauren Davey held at the near post. Jo Wilson had the first effort for the home team on 19 minutes but shot wide of Megen Lynch's goal.
Shortly after, a Sarah Wiltshire free kick was headed on by Chloe Gunn into the path of Josie Green, who lifted the ball over the advancing Lynch and the bar. Wiltshire turned on the edge of the box to fire narrowly over as the Golden Girls dominated.
Emma Beckett set up the best chance for Watford on 28 minutes with a clever though pass but Wiltshire shot wide of the right hand post. Kit Graham started the Charlton fightback with a long range effort just over, then shot over from a difficult angle after Davey had palmed away a dangerous cross. Charlton's best chance came from a perfectly flighted Kim Dixson free kick which somehow eluded three attackers on the far post on 37 minutes.
Watford ended the half well with a dangerous corner which Sarah Jones did well to clear and good handling from Lynch from a Wiltshire effort.
An entertaining half had ended somehow with a blank scoreline and Watford continued the near misses when Kate Natkiel hit the bar from 25 yards on 47 minutes. Charlton hit back with a powerful Graham effort which Davey tipped acrobatically over the bar.
Watford again hit the woodwork through sub Irene Martin Garcia after Lynch had saved well from Wiltshire on 74 minutes. Dixson was inches wide when Gemma Bryan set her up and Lynch again denied Wiltshire after a defensive slip had set the lively Watford forward free on the left in the final minute.
Extra time saw Charlton's Graham curl a free kick just wide on 93 minutes, then Wiltshire was next go close from a headed pass as the teams traded chances. Not surprisingly the pace slackened as fatigue and the enforced winter break took their toll on both sets of players.

When penalties seemed the only way these evenly matched sides would be separated a 119th minute winner arrived. Davey's clearance was intercepted by Shepherd 35 yards out and the Charlton attacker measured a perfect lob which bounced once before nestling in the right corner of the goal. There was just time for Watford keeper to deny Bryan a second Charlton goal from a breakaway effort before the final whistle.
This was a fine result for Charlton against a Watford side on a fantastic run of success over the previous 12 months. Both teams now start their quest for FA Women's Cup success next week with Charlton at home to Oxford United and Watford taking on Derby County away. 
Watford: Lauren Davey, Georgia Mays, Chloe Gunn, Renee Hector, Ellie Butterwick, Emma Beckett, Fliss Gibbons, Sarah Wiltshire, Jo Wilson, Josie Green, Kate Natkiel. Subs: Leah Blanchard, Megan Wynne, Zoe Teasdale, Irene Martin Garcia, Cally Rowell. 
Charlton Athletic: Megen Lynch, Katie Flack, Rosie Paye, Sarah Jones, Sinead Boyer, Jenny Newman, Kim Dixson, Gemma Shepherd, Gemma Bryan, Kit Graham, Charlotte Long. Subs: Stef Simmons, Cori Daniels, Annabel Prior, Courtney Shanley, Megan McKeag.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)

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