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Charlton Athletic 0 Sheffield FC 0
(Charlton won 4-2 on penalties)
Charlton Athletic defeated holders Sheffield FC on penalties to lift the FA Women's Premier League Cup. their first national trophy since 2006, at Nuneaton Town FC.
Sam Pittuck converted the winning spot kick three hours and forty five minutes after the scheduled kick off time as a cloudburst had left the pitch partially flooded and the players were taken from the pitch just on kick off. Two pitch inspections and much improvised work on the flooded areas enabled the game to start 50 minutes late in bright sunshine which mercifully remained right to the end of the contest.
Charlton were the dominant team for much of the first half but chances were few early on. A Katie Flack long throw was flicked on by a defender for Kit Graham to place a snap shot just wide on 12 minutes. Nikita Whinett went close from distance before bringing a good save from Sheffield keeper Claire Wallhead, with a couple of follow up efforts being blocked.
The best chance came on 29 minutes when Kim Dixson played in Graham, but her shot flew wide of goal. Emma Harrison was next to threaten after a delightful interchange between Graham and Gemma Shepherd but Wallhead made a fine save low to her right. Charley Clifford delivered a free kick which Wallhead punched out to Pittuck but her effort was blocked.
Sheffield had their first corner on 38 minutes and threatened just before the break when a loose crossfield pass was seized on by Rebecca Lee and her shot flew narrowly wide of Megen Lynch's goal. Charlton nearly got the lead they probably deserved right on the break when Clifford's free kick bounced away to safety off the bar.
The holders gradually worked their way into the game on the restart. Lisa Giampalma had a good sight of goal on the right but fired wide. The introduction of Jodie Michalska and later Ellie Gilliatt greatly lifted Sheffield and they were able to work the Charlton defence far more than previously.
Emma Johnson had a shot saved by Lynch on 63 minutes and Giampalma went close again as Sheffield looked the more likely team. Gilliatt delivered a free kick from the left which Michalska stabbed just wide. Back came Charlton with Graham's fine run and cross then a shot from a narrow angle which Wallhead handled well.
One final save by Lynch from Johnson ensured extra time. Player of the match, Sheffield's defender Danielle Cox, was very close to opening the scoring with a header but Pittuck made a vital clearance close to the line.
Charlton pressed forward in the second period, Grace Coombs strode forward to hit a testing shot and then Graham was very close to settling things in the final minutes but spot kicks were needed to separate two very well matched teams.
Lynch found a stunning save to turn Johnson's kick wide and also saved well from Billie Murphy. Given the chance to win the tie herself, Lynch saw her spot kick well parried by Wallhead. It fell to Pittuck to convert the fifth Charlton penalty for a 4-2 margin of victory.
The match was hard fought and both sides lasted the pace admirably, especially with the disrupted preparation caused by the deluge and subsequent delay. Charlton, unlucky in similar circumstances in the F A Cup quarter final against Everton, this time found the way to win the biggest trophy in the winter pyramid.
Charlton Athletic: Megen Lynch, Katie Flack, Kim Dixson, Rosie Paye (sub Ruby Southgate 105mins), Grace Coombs, Charley Clifford, Sam Pittuck, Gemma Shepherd, Nikita Whinnett (sub Amy Howlett 96mins), Kit Graham, Emma Harrison. Subs not used: Stef Simmons, Jenny Newman, Katie Hardaker.
Sheffield FC: Claire Wallhead, Rebecca Lee, Danielle Cox, Billie Murphy, Lisa Giampalma, Carla Ward (sub Amy Beanland 98mins), Kerry Parkin (sub Jodie Michalska 50mins), Lynn Goodman, Sheldon Ashton, Abbie McIver (sub Ellie Gilliatt 73mins), Emma Johnson. Subs not used: Jessica Horsley, Carina Fuller.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Emma Harrison gets ahead of Sheldon Ashton
(middle) Nikita Whinnett nips between Lynn Goodman and Sheldon Ashton
(bottom) Charlton Athletic with the trophy
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