Action from Charlton v United Women

Charlton Athletic Women 1 United Women 2

Manchester United Women moved to the top of the FA Women's Championship after a closely fought 2-1 victory against Charlton Athletic Women at The Oakwood.

United broke the deadlock shortly after half-time, courtesy of Katie Zelem's spot-kick, before the goalscorer turned provider when the midfielder's corner was headed in superbly by Jess Sigsworth. The hosts gave the Reds a scare, with eight minutes to play, as substitute Kit Graham curled in a brilliant strike, however United were able to hold on to get back to winning ways after an agonising exit from the SSE Women's FA Cup last week.
Katie Zelem.
Katie Zelem scores from the penalty spot to break the deadlock.
After a spirited display which ended in defeat in last weekend’s quarter-final, Casey Stoney made two changes to her side as our manager returned to the club where she spent five seasons as a player. Into the fold came Aimee Palmer and Lauren James for Amy Turner and Kirsty Hanson, who both dropped to the bench.

With the Reds and the Addicks sitting second and third in the Championship table going into the game, it had all the makings of being a closely fought affair and that was the case in the opening quarter of an hour. The first chance of the match fell the way of the hosts with forward Liz Ejupi making a darting run forward and firing inches over Siobhan Chamberlain’s goal.

United, eager to bounce back after last week’s disappointment, soon started to grow into the game and dominated possession up until the interval. Sigsworth went close as she chipped keeper Katie Startup, however the ball was cleared by Charlton's Amelia Ritchie before the forward could get a final touch to it. Moments later, Alex Greenwood's shot from an acute angle was saved by the Addicks' stopper after a great one-two with midfielder, Mollie Green.

It was certainly entertaining for the sizeable crowd in a game rescheduled after the original fixture was abandoned in January.

Jess Sigsworth doubles the lead.
Jesse Sigsworth adds the eventual winner as the Reds go 2-0 up.

After the break, the Reds maintained our high intensity and earned a penalty shortly before the hour mark. Ella Toone's shot from range was blocked by the arm of Charlton's Charlotte Gurr and the referee, Ryan Atkin, immediately pointed to the spot. Up stepped Zelem, who made no mistake to fire the ball to the left of Startup and give Stoney’s side a deserved lead.

We didn't have to wait long for a second. Zelem's corner from the right was met by Sigsworth who rose to thunder in a header for her 12th goal of the season and put the visitors in control.

Celebrations for the Reds.
Celebrations as United Women show their class in the rearranged fixture.

United's two-goal cushion didn't deter the Addicks and, with eight minutes to play, they pulled a goal back as Graham picked the ball up and rifled an unstoppable curler past Chamberlain.

It meant a tense finale but the Reds held out and due to Tottenham losing to Sheffield United earlier in the day, Stoney's side have moved into first place. United and Spurs meet next week with the top-of-the-table encounter taking place in the capital on Sunday 31 March.

Casey Stoney on the sidelines.
Casey Stoney looks on as her side pick up three vital points.
MATCH DETAILS
 
United: Chamberlain; Harris (Arnot 67), Palmer, M. Turner, Greenwood(c); Zelem, Green (Devlin 58), Toone (Smith 89), Sigsworth, James, Galton.
 
Substitutes not used:  Ramsey, A.Turner, Hanson.
 
Goals: Graham 82 | Zelem 57, Sigsworth 63 

Attendance: 732
 
WATCH UNITED AT HOME
 
United's next home game is on Wednesday 17 April as Aston Villa pay a visit to Leigh Sports Village (kick-off 19:00 GMT). Match tickets are on sale at www.manutd.com/womenstickets.

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