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Charlton find their range
 Women's Football News 20 Jan 2014
 
Charlton find their range - 20 Jan 2014 - Women's Football NewsCharlton Athletic 3 Milton Keynes Dons 0
Charlton Athletic moved into the Third Round of the FA Women's Cup with a 3-0 home win over Milton Keynes Dons. 
 
Three long distance second half strikes, two from Charley Clifford and one from Kit Graham saw Charlton to a margin of victory which had looked unlikely after a tightly contested first period, in which the South East Combination League visitors had frustrated the hosts and had fashioned some good attacks of their own.
 
Neither team had played in over a month and the opening exchanges were a reflection of the weather-enforced inactivity with posession turning over frequently and defences dominating. Sam Pittuck had the first effort on goal with her header from Leigh Houlihan's cross being well held by Dons keeper Emma Kirby.
 
On 13 minutes, Charly Wright had a free kick blocked by the Charlton defensive wall and Heather McDonnell hit a low shot from the rebound which Megen Lynch turned away for a corner. Kate Hardaker went very close for the home team with a deflected shot just over the bar on 16 minutes but MK were getting a good share of the ball and competing well all over the pitch. Pittuck nearly found a way through on 31 and 45 minutes but was foiled firstly by Clare Hollingsworth's tackle then by a brave save from Kirby.
 
It seemed that fresh ideas and an increase in the pace of attacking moves might be needed to break down the visitors' resistance. In fact, it was a sweetly hit 30-yard shot out of nothing from Clifford which broke the deadlock on 48 minutes. The same player doubled the lead five minutes later with a well placed 20-yard free kick from the middle of the goal which Kirby could only help into the net.
 
Lil Stanton had a good effort turned away by Lynch as Dons rallied but Charlton continued their long range shooting policy, Clifford going close to her hat-trick on 64 minutes, then Pittuck turning and firing inches wide from 25 yards. In between Graham had a header well saved by Kirby from a free kick and Hollingsworth made another fine last ditch interception to deny Clare Rogers a sight of goal.
 
A flurry of substitutions did little to alter the flow of the match as Charlton grew in fluency and confidence, forcing their opponents to defend for much of the final half hour. Graham capped a very busy display with a fine effort in the final minute, working her way into a shooting position 25 yards from goal, then hitting the ball over Kirby and in off the underside of the bar for a three-goal margin of victory.
 
Charlton Athletic will contest a Third Round home tie with either Sheffield FC, leaders of the Northern Division of the FA Women's Premier League, or Liverpool Feds of the Northern Combination who will have a third try at staging their match next Sunday. Milton Keynes Dons, third in the South East Combination table, showed why they are having a good season with a well organised and spirited display.
 
Charlton Athletic: Megen Lynch, Stef Simmons, Rosie Paye, Leigh Houlihan, Emma Harrison, Charley Clifford, Sam Pittuck, Katie Hardaker, Kit Graham, Katie Flack, Clare Rogers. Subs: Alex Baker, Megan Carroll, Eliz Ibrahim, Alice Singyard, Emma Hyland.

Milton Keynes Dons: Emma Kirby, Jess Cutting, Clare Hollingsworth, Kara Howes, Emily Ingle, Emily Mann, Heather McDonnell, Charly Wright, Lil Stanton, Kelly Bingham, Leah Cudone. Subs: Chloe Smith, Eden Washington, Emma Brockwell, Megan Brockwell.

(Report by Patrick Higgins)

Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:

(top) Lil Stanton wins a header against Clare Rogers
(middle) Stef Simmons curls a free kick towards goal
(bottom) Emily Mann battles for the ball with Katie Flack

 
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