Brighton back on top as injured pair make long-awaited comebacks

Round-up of the weekend’s women’s football highlights

Portsmouith celebrate a goal against Spurs, Dec 14 2014 (Photo: Jordan Hampton)

Portsmouth kept up the pressure on the leaders with a 4-1 win over Spurs that extended their unbeaten run to 14 games (Photo: Jordan Hampton)

Brighton took advantage of Charlton’s draw at West Ham to go clear at the top of the FAW Premier League, beating Copsewood Coventry 3-0.

But it was not just the result that delighted the Brighton contingent – two of their summer signings made their first starts for the club after long-term injuries, boosting James Marrs’ strong squad still further.

Vicky Ashton-Jones and Danielle Carlton both featured in Coventry, with the latter marking her return with a goal and an assist from trademark free-kicks.

Lauren Davis also made her Brighton debut following her switch from Gillingham as the Sussex side fielded a much-changed side from the one that opened the Premier League season against the same opposition at Lancing.

Fliss Gibbons gave Brighton an early lead, but they were denied more goals by Nikki Duncan in the Copsewood goal before Carlton marked her return after recovering from a cruciate-ligament injury with a free-kick. Amy Green sealed the win with a header from Carlton’s free-kick.

Marrs told the club website: “The pitch and the conditions weren’t the greatest, and it was pleasing to see that the players I’ve brought into the squad have staked their respective claims to be regulars in the side.”

Brighton, who had been pushed down to second on goal difference after Charlton‘s win last week, are now two points clear, having won seven league and cup games on the trot.

See also:
Almost-perfect 10 for Worthing Minors

Their title rivals dropped two points at home to West Ham United in an exciting game at Thamesmead. The visitors were 2-0 up with 55 minutes gone, but two goals from top scorer Kit Graham and one from Charley Clifford put the hosts 3-2 ahead before West Ham grabbed an equaliser with just over 10 minutes to go.

Sarah McRea, Kelley Blanchflower and Vicky Kinsman netted for the Hammers.

Before the game, both sides stood in memory of their former player, Katie Sheppard, who died earlier this year.

Charlton’s draw also gave Cardiff City and Portsmouth the opportunity to make up ground on this morning’s leaders, the Welsh side triumphing 7-1 at Gillingham and Pompey beating Tottenham Hotspur at home.

Kelly Aldridge and Naomi Clipston each scored twice for Cardiff, and Louise Hutton and Cori Williams got the others. Natalie Crinean was the Gills’ scorer.

Ini Umatong in action for Portsmouth against Spurs, Dec 14 2014 (Photo: Matt Underwood)

Ini Umatong scored two more for Portsmouth to bring her tally to nine in her last six games (Photo: Matt Underwood)

At Cams Alders Molly Clark, Ini Umatong (2) and Charley Wilson maintained Portsmouth’s extraordinary run, helping them to a 4-1 victory over Spurs, whose solitary score came from Shannon Sievewright‘s own goal.

Pompey have now won every competitive game they have played since losing to Cardiff on the opening day of the season, back in August – a sequence of 14 league and cup fixtures.

The downside for manager Perry Northeast was the loss of new star, Chloe Dark, to injury late in the game. Two other development players – Laura Newsome and Brittany Jeal – featured as substitutes, as Portsmouth made light of their latest injury crisis.

Keynsham Town got their first point of the season in a 3-3 home draw with Plymouth Argyle, while Lewes suffered a 2-1 setback at Queens Park Rangers, Cath O’Hagan‘s opener being cancelled out by strikes from Natalie Adams and Kasha Petit.

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Lewes supporters managed to keep smiling despite seeing their side lose a first-half lead at Queens Park Rangers

Charlton Athletic and Brighton maintained their double assault on Premier League titles with vital wins in the Premier Reserves League.

The London club beat leaders West Ham United 3-0 to cut the gap to four points – with Charlton having three games in hand.

A double from Francesca Tye and one from Olivia Cole sealed the win.

West Ham’s defeat also enabled Brighton to make ground. Their 2-1 win over Crystal Palace kept them level on points with Charlton, but above them on goal difference – an achievement that was all the more impressive since they had only 10 players and were reduced to nine through injury during the game.

Chichester City‘s improvement continued as they won for the second week in succession, beating a depleted Bedford 6-0 at Oaklands Park.

Following their first victory of the season last Sunday, against Lewes, the Greens maintained the momentum with a convincing win.

Lauren Ellis scored twice, and there were one apiece for Gemma Halford – who scored for the second week running – Juliette Teague, Levi Thorpe and Skye Gould.

Lewes, the only team in the division without a win, came close at Basildon, where they went down 3-2.

Once again, the club felt key decisions went against them. But among the positives was the goal-scoring return of first-team player Clare Trafford after three months out injured. She scored both Lewes’s goals.

Gillingham‘s reserves also lost 3-2, at Queens Park Rangers.

In Division One  South West, Swindon Town maintained their three-point lead at the top, beating Shanklin 5-0. But Forest Green Rovers kept the pressure on with an impressive 4-0 victory Southampton Saints.

Exeter City took the opportunity to move above Southampton, winning 4-0 at Cheltenham Town.

Chichester City‘s indifferent season took another downturn when they went down 3-0 at Larkhall Athletic.

Gosport Borough‘s match at St Nicholas was postponed.

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