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Charlton Athletic 2 Coventry Utd 0
Charlton Athletic returned to winning ways in the FAWPL Southern Division to maintain a four-point gap at the top of the table by defeating Coventry United, courtesy of two first half goals from Charlotte Gurr and Kit Graham.
After successive league defeats, the Addicks needed to be at their best to overcome their in-form visitors and they gave a fine team performance to deservedly claim the points.
After a tight opening quarter of an hour, Charlotte Lee had the first effort on goal, turned away by Coventry keeper Susan Wood. Her opposite number Katie Startup made an equally good save on 19 minutes when Maz Gauntlett connected well with an Alison Hall cross from the right.
Charlton took the lead on 23 minutes as Kim Dixson released Graham down the right, Lee retrieved her initial cross and returned an inviting ball for Gurr to flick a header beyond Wood.
Jade Brook was very busy in the Coventry midfield and had a long range effort held by Startup on 27 minutes and a later shot which dipped just over. In between, Graham was denied by good defending and Dixson nearly curled the resulting corner in at the far post on 35 minutes.
The second Charlton goal arrived with the last kick of the half, Graham nipping in to turn a through ball past Wood to give the hosts some unexpected breathing space after a very competitive opening 45 minutes.
Graham and Lee combined very effectively throughout at the head of Charlton's attack. Graham had a free kick well held by Wood on 54 minutes, then Lee cleverly played her through on goal but the shot was pulled wide before Graham forced another good save by Wood from Lee's set up on the edge of the area.
Coventry's Laura Cooper had Startup scrambling back at the other end on 63 minutes with a 35-yard effort which was inches over but Charlton's resolute defending kept Coventry largely at bay.
As time ticked down. the visitors renewed their efforts and pressed Charlton back with a series of testing crosses. On 89 minutes, only a superb save by Startup denied Coventry as she reached low to turn a close range header from sub Keeley Davies past the post at full stretch. From the corner. Ruby Southgate cleared a loose ball off the line to preserve the clean sheet for Charlton.
Every Charlton player had contributed well in a crucial victory over worthy opponents ahead of another top of the table clash with second place Lewes next week.
Katie Startup, Chloe Brunton-Wilde, Kim Dixson, Grace Coombs, Charley Clifford, Charlotte Gurr, Charlotte Lee, Kit Graham, Hannah Churchill, Hope Nash, Ruby Southgate. Subs: Katie Flack, Nicole Pepper, Georgia Griffin, Daisy Monaghan, Flo Jackson.
Susan Wood, Laura Cooper, Nikki Miles, Steph Smith, Alex Buck, Katie Sorensen, Amber Hughes, Helen Dermody, Alison Hall, Maz Gauntlett, Jade Brook. Subs: Keeley Davies, Rosie McDonnell.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
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