The Bees secured their first win of the 2020/21 FA Women’s Championship season with a dominant home victory over Charlton Athletic.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The first half was a stop-start affair at a windy Hive London, in fact, the first half went on for just short of an hour due to several stoppages for injury. The first stoppage came inside the first five minutes, as Marianne Taho had a nasty clash of heads with Shauna Vassell, Taho was bandaged up and continued, whilst Vassell, unfortunately, had to be substituted.
You got the sense that the Bees knew just how important a victory was and they started on the front foot against their London rivals, the first real opening came on ten minutes as the impressive Flo Gamby struck the crossbar from 20 yards with an arrowing strike.
Lee Burch’s side showed plenty of attacking endeavour throughout the first half, with the likes of Charlie Estcourt, Brooke Nunn and Amelia Hazard all surging forward throughout and causing the Addicks backline plenty of problems.
Just five minutes before the break, debutant Charlton goalkeeper Ertha Cummings was called into action as Merrick Will drove a powerful strike to the near post, forcing the Addicks ‘keeper to turn behind for a corner. Three minutes later it was almost a carbon copy as Nunn tried her luck but was denied again at the near post.
The one dampener of the afternoon fell on the stroke of half time, as captain Will was forced off with a knee injury. The Bees number 23 was down for a lengthy period of time before being helped from the field, meaning there was 11 minutes of stoppage time at the end of the half.
Charlton’s best chance of the match came just seconds before the break, as the Addicks broke forward before Ciara Walting fizzed an effort inches past Sarah Quantrill’s post. Moments before, Gamby made a goal-saving intervention as she got back to block an effort from the progressive Jessica King. That was the last real moment of the half as the teams headed into the break level pegging.
The Bees were once again the dominant side in the second half and almost took the lead five minutes into the half, as Estcourt forced Cumings into a good save with a well-struck free-kick from the edge of the box. The crossbar was struck again just three minutes later, as Georgia Robert was mighty unlucky not to see her free-kick fly into the top corner from all of 40 yards out.
With just over 20 minutes left on the watch, the Bees were almost leaders of their own downfall as King latched onto a loose back pass, only for the alert Quantrill to rush out and deny the Charlton striker with an immaculately timed sliding tackle. Up the other end, the tenacious Sophie McLean forced Cumings into yet another good stop with a strike from the edge of the box.
Just as you thought it might not be our day, the deadlock was finally broken just 18 minutes before the end as Robert poked home at the back post from a corner. The Bees centre back now has two for the season and you can sense the relief as her effort crossed the line to give us the upper hand.
From then on, it would be all about ensuring we didn’t allow our local rivals back into the contest and the Bees did just that, restricting Charlton to only half chances at most. Quantrill in the Bees goal had very little to do, despite the visitors ramping up the pressure on the Bees backline.
Burch’s side were given a further advantage just eight minutes from time as Rachel Newborough was shown a red card for a second bookable offence following a foul in the middle of the pitch.
The Bees stood strong and ensured they secured a vital three points, leaving them just a point behind Charlton in the FA Women’s Championship.
“It’s a great result, and it’s been a long time coming. Our results lately, we’ve deserved more, we’re a lot better than we’ve been showing, so it’s good to finally get the three points.
“Everyone was a bit nervous at the start – we were just so desperate to get that first win. We’ve all stuck together and were really unlucky against Durham last week. We’ve been unlucky and made some silly mistakes, so to stop making those mistakes and get the win was good.
“To get a clean sheet and three points is perfect, but really it’s all about the win. It’s nice to have a quiet game, the girls defended well and then Georgia stood up at the end, scored from the corner, and got us what we deserved.
“It’s nice to have to have a huddle where everyone’s happy, rather than sad and depressed. We knew November was going to be a massive month, so to start off with three points is massive.”
You can watch the boss’ interview by CLICKING HERE.
The Bees now face a vitally important week of fixtures across two competitions, as they firstly host Lewes in Conti Cup action on Wednesday night before travelling to Blackburn Rovers next Sunday in a crucial FA Women’s Championship match.