Fulham Ladies 3 Charlton Ladies 3
Substitute Carmaine Walker was Charlton's heroine as she scored a dramatic injury time equaliser to earn the battling Addicks a 3-3 draw against the professionals of Fulham in this FA Nationwide National Division match. In a pulsating match that was a marvellous advert for the women's game, Charlton turned the formbook and a 3-1 deficit on its head to snatch a point when it looked like their sloppy defending would see them leave with nothing.
Charlton boss Keith Boanas was understandably elated with his side's inspirational comeback.
"The result was testament to the character and the ability levels that I know our girls have got... I think we are a major force and that [the result] is going to wake the rest of the league up and say well if we can do it everyone can have a go."
The game swung from end to end and had everything - skill, pace, poor defending and devastating finishing. Fulham were never able to gain the dominance that they normally enjoy and Charlton were unrecognisable from the side that were overpowered 5-1in the FA Cup semi-final on the same ground only five months ago.
Fulham were missing a trio of big players with Marieanne Spacey and Margunn Haugenes injured and the inspirational Katie Chapman taking a break from the game due to pregnancy. It was the defensive qualities of Chapman in the heart of midfield that Fulham sorely missed but the professional outfit were always a threat on the break with a fluid midfield of Rachel Yankey, Kristy Moore and Kim Jerray-Silver causing the Charlton back line problems.
Despite the absentees it was the Cottagers who were first to signal their attacking intentions when a good interchange of passes between Jerray-Silver and Moore ended up with Jerray-Silver firing in a low shot from the edge of the area that England keeper Pauline Cope did well to save.
But after 13 minutes it was Charlton who nearly took the lead when, with no immediate danger apparent, the exciting England star Williams volleyed a bouncing ball from some 30 yards out which Fulham keeper Astrid Johannessen just managed to claw onto the bar.
The match was now on fire and a minute later Fulham took the lead. The ball broke to Moore on the left who was given too much space and burst into the area before looping a fine left foot shot over England keeper Pauline Cope.
The goal did not dent the Addicks confidence, however, and on 29 minutes they drew level. The Charlton players were still complaining to the referee that the ball had crossed the line a minute earlier when a woeful backpass from Fulham fullback Ronnie Gibbons found Amanda Barr who nonchalantly rounded Johannessen and slotted home to complete a memorable few days for the England striker.
Fulham finished the half stronger with Moore giving Eartha Pond a torrid time on the right wing and Yankey and Jerray-Silver looking lively but Charlton held out to go in level.
The second half began by following the usual Fulham script, their superior fitness and strength being too much for their opponents and after 51 minutes they regained the lead. Yankey won a corner on the left which was curled in dangerously by Jerray-Silver and Sanchia Duncan rose unchallenged to head home.
Charlton were now rattled and their passes started to go wayward as the Fulham pressure knocked them out of their slick first half rhythm. And on 64 minutes it was no surprise when Fulham increased their lead. Another vicious inswinging Jerray-Silver corner alluded everybody and Cope's desperate attempt to keep the ball out ended up in the back of the net.
And that was seemingly that. With the professionals of Fulham 3-1 up, there was surely no way back for Charlton. But half time Addicks substitute Charmaine Walker had other ideas. Just five minutes after Fulham looked to have sealed victory, a sweet Charlton move involving Justine Lorton, Jo Broadhurst and Abbott moved the ball out to Rea on the right whose pinpoint cross found Walker unmarked in the area. The tall striker made no mistake with the finish, heading powerfully into the bottom corner of the net.
Charlton were now re-writing the script and Fulham will have rarely, if ever, found themselves under so much pressure in the latter stages of a game. Charlton's pressure led to a string of late corners and it was from the last of these on 91 minutes that they grabbed their deserved equaliser.
Pond, who grew in stature as the game wore on, won a corner that was swung in by Broadhurst. A scramble on the edge of the six-yard box saw the ball fall to Walker who smashed the ball home through a crowd of players to start the jubilant celebrations.
Fulham manager Gaute Haugenes looked in a state of shock at the end and was unhappy that his team let a two goal lead slip.
"It was not good enough...we are not cynical enough and we learnt a lesson... It was not good for us to lose the points today...It was a poor performance from us, definitely a poor performance...Today it feels like we lost the game."
But he was also gracious in defeat and praised Charlton for their efforts.
"Charlton are a stronger team than they have ever been before and all credit to them."
Fulham: A Johannessen; K. Jerray-Silver; R. McArthur; R. Unitt; M. Phillip (c); K. Pedersen; R. Gibbons (N. Daly, 79); S. Duncan; K. Moore; U. Nwajei; R. Yankey
Subs not used: J. Smith; R. Bennett; K. Mears
Charlton: P. Cope; C. Stoney; E. Pond; F. Williams; K. Hills; S. Rea; J. Broadhurst; A. Hunn (C. Walker, 45); A. Barr; J. Lorton (E. Whitter, 74); S. Abbott
Subs not used: G. Kierans; M. Bolton; K. Loizou
Scorers: Fulham - Moore 14; Duncan 51; Jerray-Silver 64
Charlton - Barr 29; Walker 68 & 91