Durham 2 Charlton Athletic Women 2 – Ritchie goal maintains Addicks’ unbeaten start

Amelia Ritchie headed in a late equaliser to maintain Charlton Athletic’s unbeaten start to life in the FA Women’s Championship.

Durham looked set to clinch back-to-back league victories after goals by Beth Hepple and Emily Roberts midway through the first half.

But the new girls fought back in the second period to earn a point, after Kit Graham pulled one back in the first 45.

Charlton could have been 2-0 up inside the first 16 minutes, with Graham going inches wide with her left foot before Gemma Bryan crossed for her forward partner who was off-target.

The match exploded into life with three goals inside three minutes.

Hepple put Durham in front in the 23rd minute, but the Addicks’ response was immediate with Graham taking advantage of a defensive lapse to score from six yards.

Charlton’s celebrations had barely died down when the Wildcats regained the lead. Rachel Lee played in Roberts who applied a neat right-foot finish.

It was almost three on the stroke of half-time with Katie Startup producing a breathtaking save to deny Hepple from the edge of the area.

Charlton had the better of the second half with boss Riteesh Mishra’s triple 63rd-minute substitution giving the Londoners impetus.

Graham went close to a 70th-minute level and Lily Agg even closer when Hannah Reid made a superb diving save from the sub’s sweetly-struck free-kick.

And Reid thwarted her again 10 minutes from time after Agg had played a good one-two with Ritchie.

Charlton piled on the pressure and grabbed a deserved 84th-minute equaliser when Ritchie rose magnificently to head in a left-wing corner.

They almost won it with the final play of the game but Reid made a flying save from a Graham free-kick.

Addicks midfielder Amber Hobbs said: “We reacted well at half-time and worked well as a group, our work-rate made the difference.

“If we’d had a little bit more time I think we’d have nicked it.

“It was a good save by the keeper at the end from Kit’s free-kick and strange it was the last kick of the game,  finishing the match on a corner would have been interesting.

“We fully deserved our point, we created chances in the first half as well.

“It’s been a tough game, coming all the way up here to play a team that’s already well-established in this league and probably finish top four.

“We’re a new side in the Championship and we know that we are not fully there yet.

“It’s a big step up but to have four points from the first two games is not bad, especially given we’ve been up against two good sides.”

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