Durham outplayed by classy Charlton for second home defeat in a row

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Durham Women lost a second successive home league game thanks to a dominant performance from Charlton, who should have won by more than the 2–1 scoreline.

Framed by floodlights, fog and the 3G pitch, the match looked like it might have been plucked from the Scandinavian leagues. The cold certainly played its part in the immersion too, hovering around five or six degrees for the majority of the match. A minute’s silence was observed for the fallen ahead of Remembrance Day on Friday.

It didn’t take long for the crowd to return to full volume. Durham played dangerous square passes across the defence and were soon punished. Charlton’s Melissa Johnson was put clean through and went down in the box under a challenge from Laura Robson. Despite Durham players’ furious response, the referee blew for a penalty.

Deirdrie Bradley was particularly apoplectic, telling the officials “Every week it gets worse”. Emily Simpkins sent Naoisha McAloon the wrong way from the spot and Charlton had claimed the lead within five minutes.

By the eighteenth minute, Durham were thanking the officials. Rio Hardy clipped a ball across to the back post, only for a Charlton hand to strike the ball before a Durham head could nod it in. Once again the referee had no hesitation in her decision to give a penalty.

Despite missing a crucial penalty last week, Beth Hepple stepped up again, slotting the ball beneath Sian Rogers to much relief around the ground. The Wildcats efforts from this point surmounted to little and the next noteworthy action was to prove the decisive one in the game.

Framed by floodlights, fog and the 3G pitch, the match looked like it might have been plucked from the Scandinavian leagues

From a throw in, Simpkins played a wonderful flick round the corner to the onrushing Johnson, who remained cool to prod the ball past McAloon off the left post. Vocal celebrations near the corner flag showed their pleasure in such a tidy goal. Durham could have very few complaints about this one.

Just before the first half ended, Bradley thundered the sweetest of half volleys off the crossbar from 30 yards out. The ball bounced down in front of the line twice before Charlton defenders careered back to clear their lines. It was clear it was not Durham’s day.

Although they were leading, it was Charlton who were in the ascendency for almost the entire second half. Chances came in a flurry. First Johnson put the ball wide after a scything counter attack from a Durham corner. Next, Beth Roe skewed wide for the Addicks just after the hour. The finishing may have been poor but the build-up was impressive to behold.

Three minutes later Angela Addison fired into the side netting and Durham were rocking. Simpkins was next with her hands on her head when she placed her shot wide of the target. Scarcely believable as it was, this was still a one goal game.

With fifteen minutes left Addison appeared to be clean through again, but Durham’s Becky Salicki slid in with jaw-dropping precision to stop her in her tracks. The ball came out to another Charlton player, who sat McAloon down, but incomprehensively skied the ball – for all Charlton’s dominance they hadn’t tested McAloon in the second half.

Roe, who was proving to be a livewire, ballooned another shot over after some slick first time passing. Finally on 79 minutes Charlton managed to keep a shot on target, but McAloon expertly denied Johnson to keep Durham in the game.

Unfortunately for the home crowd, their team was unable to capitalise on Charlton’s poor finishing. Salicki came closest in the final ten minutes and should have done better with a free header from one of Hepple’s free kicks.

“I am certain we will turn things around. Stand with us, and support the girls as vocally as you always do”

Lee Saunders

Few complaints were heard at full time – Charlton were well-deserving of all three points. Such was their dominance, Lee Sanders was prompted to put out a statement. He said, “We are clearly going through a tough time currently and something we have not been used to in recent years.”

Later in the statement he remarked, “I take full responsibility for what happens”, but signed off optimistically:

“I am certain we will turn things around. Stand with us, and support the girls as vocally as you always do”.

DWFC 1 (Hepple, ’18) Charlton Athletic 2 (Simpkins ‘5, Johnson ’21)

Durham XI: McAloon, Robert, Robson, Hepple, Farrugia (Lambert 60), Hardy, Galloway (Noonan 45), Salicki, Bradley, Christon, Clarke

Charlton XI: Rogers, N’Dow, Johnson, Simpkins, Addison, Skeels, Rutherford, Roe (O’Rourke 75), McGowan (Ayisi 83), Henson, Ross

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