BY TOM DEAN
Charlton Athletic and Crystal Palace earned a point each from their FA Women’s Championship season opener after a 2-2 draw at Oakwood.
The hosts took the lead early on through Jess King but Palace hit straight back with a header from Bianca Baptiste.
Cherelle Khassal then gave the visitors a half-time lead but Shauna Vassell popped up at the back post late on to rescue a point for the Addicks.
King needed just five minutes of her Charlton debut to open her account after intercepting a loose pass across the defence and keeping her cool to slot home the opener.
Palace reacted immediately and when Siobhan Wilson whipped a perfect cross into the box Baptiste fired a bullet header past Katie Startup to level things up.
King continued to be the Addicks’ main goal threat throughout the half and almost gave her side the lead again when she was given space to turn inside the box and work a shot on goal that just skimmed the crossbar.
Instead it was Palace who took the lead as Khassal drove towards the Charlton goal and steered the ball under Startup into the bottom right corner.
Lizzie Waldie was called into action just before the break to protect her side’s lead with a last-ditch sliding tackle to block Beth Lumsden’s shot.
The visitors started the second half stronger and had the better share of chances with Coral Haines coming closest when her close-range effort was blocked.
Palace were made to pay for not capitalising when King stung the palms of Chloe Morgan before Vassell arrived at the back post to nudge the ball over the line with three minutes remaining.
Charlton striker Jess King said: “You don’t expect to get those sorts of chances that early on in a game but when you do you have to take them and especially if it’s an open goal – you’ve got to finish that.
“I’m obviously buzzing to get my first goal for the club and play a part in the second goal but I could never say I’m happy to draw a game.
“As a group of players we all feel the same but I think we showed a lot about ourselves to get the goal back at the end and respond like that.
“We’ll just take the games one at a time but the coaches are already giving us good feedback which I really enjoy and I think we can win a lot of games.
“Especially after the recent experience with lockdown it’s important not to look too far ahead but I hope I can bring a lot of goals to the club and have great success here.”
Crystal Palace defender Annabel Johnson said: “We’re a team of players who haven’t played for seven months so there was a lot of nerves beforehand but I was very happy with the way we settled in.
“At the end that felt more like a loss because we were camped in their half for most of the game and playing nice football.
“I’ll take the responsibility for the goal because it was player off my shoulder who scored at the end and I need to do better at staying switched on. The past few years we’ve played Charlton we might have done well to beat them but this year it’s the other way around.
“It’s fantastic just to be back playing. The WSL is getting a load of superstars in, lots more talent and hopefully that will trickle down into our league as well.”
Palace host London City Lionesses on Saturday. Charlton head to Blackburn Ladies on Sunday.
To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com
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