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Sunday, March 05, 2006

Pauline Copes as Aluko Scores

Charlton picked up their first silverware of the season in front of a crowd of 3,506 at the Causeway Stadium, High Wycombe today when the women's team beat Arsenal 2-1 to lift the Women's Premier League Cup. Charlton's two goals were scored in the first half by Enioia Aluko, but former England keeper Pauline Cope also played a vital part with some great saves.

It was rather disconcerting to find ourselves in a stand largely full of Gooners who were in confident mood that the bigger club would lift the trophy. As the two Gooners next to Maggie lost their confidence as the game went on they charmingly berated their players as 'you silly cow'.

Arsenal came out storming in the first ten minutes, obviously seeking to kill the game off with an early goal and I was concerned that the Addicks were not marking their women well enough, but they weathered the storm. Then, as the half hour approached, Aluko used her pace to storm down the field, outpacing a pack of chasing Gooner defenders to put a clean strike past Emma Byrne in the Arsenal goal. Pauline Cope had to preserve the Charlton lead with two great saves, a one handed one even earning the grudging admiration of the Gooners.

As the game edged into the last minute of time added on, Aluko forged through again and struck a low ball into the corner of the net. A Gooner returning with his burger and chips enquired expectantly, 'Is it 1-1 then?', his look of disbelief being a joy to behold.

Charlton are always at risk with a 2-0 lead and they were pinned back by Arsenal for much of the second half. Cope continued to be alert in goal, ticking off the linesman for failing to give an offside decision. Some robust defending was called for and Eartha Pond received a yellow card. Then a quickly taken free kick caught the Addicks defence out, leaving Cope exposed and it was 2-1 as the 75th minute mark approached.

Charlton were now under the cosh and there were fears of a red rather than yellow when Casey Stoney put in a scything tackle that saw her opponent go off the pitch for treatment fighting back tears. Aluko had be to taken off as she had picked up a knock and she was still limping when she collected her woman of the match award.

In the closing minutes of the game, Charlton took the game to Arsenal, but then Arsenal burst through, executing a dramatic dive in the area. A ballistic Pauline Cope came towards the referee shouting at him, but although no penalty was awarded, no yellow card was given as the Charlton players made their feelings known with diving signals. But it was too late for the Gooners to force extra time and the victorious Charlton squad were able to go to the podium to receive their medals. They then paraded round the pitch and Pauline lifted the cup in triumph in response to my thumbs up sign. Let's hope that it acts as an inspiration to the men's team for the FA Cup.

1 Comments:

Blogger Ken J said...

Wyn: Thanks for the entertaining report. Good for you for going!
ps. Have you noticed the distinct lack of "Strollers" in the women's game? Its all out effort and at times, no mean skill....and I agree....men's team, take note.

1:21 AM  

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