BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Charlton Athletic will look to strengthen their grip at the top of the FA Women’s Championship at The Valley on Sunday but Sian Rogers has warned that there can be no slackening off of performance levels.
The Addicks moved to the summit after a fourth successive league win – 2-0 at Southampton last weekend.
Karen Hills’ side are unbeaten in their last seven Championship matches and host second-placed Sunderland in SE7. Both clubs have identical goal differences but Charlton have scored two more goals.
Rogers was part of the Aston Villa side which won the division in 2020 but the Covid pandemic meant the season was suspended in mid-March and did not resume – the FA determining finishing positions on a points-per-game basis.
Rogers, 25, made her top-flight debut against Manchester City in September 2020.
“Obviously everyone wants to get to the Super League but it is getting harder and harder because the Championship is so competitive,” the former England U20 international told the South London Press. “Whoever goes up is going to have to have thoroughly deserved it.
“There are so many teams around us that it will make it even better, knowing that you have had to really work for it.
“Last time I won promotion it was tough because it was around that time in Covid when we couldn’t enjoy a celebration. So being able to reach that level again would be about being able to enjoy it on the pitch with my team-mates.
“The fans also play a massive part and if they can come on the journey with us it is even better for them when the good times come around.”
Charlton’s only defeat since early September is at the hands of West Ham United in the WSL Cup.
Even then Carla Humphrey had put them ahead at the Chigwell Construction Stadium but the top-flight club struck twice after the interval.
The Addicks have banked 19 points from a possible 21.
Rogers said: “The league this year is so open and you can’t look too far ahead. Each game poses a different threat for us and we’ve had to overcome the challenges posed in different situations.
“Us being top of the table at the moment is fantastic but the main aim is to stay there – that is the next challenge for the group.
“We have worked hard to get to where we are now but the hard work starts again. It’s okay getting there but we need to be competitive every week and bring the best versions of ourselves.
“Whenever you go into these type of games you know there is going to be pressure. If you don’t feel pressure that isn’t necessarily good – pressure is a privilege. We have put that on ourselves with the standards we have set.
“We know we started the season slowly and we weren’t doing great but we did some reflection on things we needed to do better – that has stood us in good stead going forwards.
“We need to keep pushing and making it hard for teams to beat us.”
Crystal Palace are only a point behind the top two and have a far superior goal difference as well as a match in hand.
The Eagles have scored 31 goals in nine league matches and were 3-2 winners at home to Lewes last weekend.
Sarah Brasero-Carreira had put the visitors into a 16th-minute lead but it was wiped out by Shanade Hopcroft before the half-hour mark.
Alexia Potter made it 2-1 on 70 minutes before Molly-Mae Sharpe added a third with nine minutes of normal time remaining.
Reanna Lauren Blades ensured it was a nervy finale as she cut the deficit in the third minute of added time. Palace host fourth-placed Southampton on Sunday.
Chelsea maintained top spot in the Super League with a 3-0 win at Everton last weekend.
The Blues goals were scored by Jessie Fleming, Sam Kerr and Aggie Beever-Jones.
Chelsea are unbeaten in six league matches, winning five of them, and are at home to Liverpool tomorrow (1.30pm kick-off).
AFC Wimbledon will head to Chatham Town in the second round of the FA Cup after winning 8-7 on penalties at Saltdean United.
Wimbledon got the opening goal in the 49th minute, Angela Soares-Martin made no mistake from Ashlee Hincks’ pass.
Lauren Allen made two saves in the shootout after the tie finished 1-1 following extra time with Billie Brooks converting the winning penalty.
Millwall Lionesses will play Bromley in the FA Cup on November 26.
Both teams had 3-2 victories in their first round matches.
The Lions edged out Denham to make it seven straight wins in all competitions.
Twice they were behind but responded through Shannan Drewe before an own goal settled the tie.
Bromley booked their spot as they edged a five-goal encounter against AFC Portchester.
MAIN PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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