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Football - 22. August 2011.

FAWPL Review: Charlton ease past Forest - also wins for Leeds and Reading

Charlton Athletic Women's top the FA Women's Premier League National Division after the first round of games, and there were also wins for Leeds United and Reading, with two games being called off.

By David Brenchley

Charlton Athletic Women 4-1 Nottingham Forest Ladies

Charlton Athletic surprised last season's runners-up Nottingham Forest by running out 4-1 winners at Bayliss Avenue on Sunday.

The Addicks, returning to the division after a three-year absence, got off tpo the perfect start when Emma Gilliatt handballed in the penalty area and striker Gemma Bryan sent Claire Wallhead the wrong way from the resulting spot kick.

Forest then pressed hard for the equaliser, which they got not long after thanks to new signing Natasha Meade's 25-yard effort that flew in off the underside of the crossbar.

Meade had gone close earlier and Forest peppered the hosts' goal but, having weathered the storm, they re-took the lead on the stroke of half-time when Harley Bennett picked up Bryan's lay off and crashed the ball past Wallhead.

Addicks skipper Kim Dixson then met a Fliss Gibbons cross with a flying header before Kristina Manktelow finished the rout with five minutes left when she shot into the top corner.

Charlton's Technical Director Paul Mortimer was pleased his side had laid down an early marker and hopes they can follow it up with another victory when they travel to fellow newly-promoted side Coventry City next weekend.

"I want people to look at that result and be surprised," he said, "Charlton have beaten Forest 4-1. I wanted Forest to come away today win, lose or draw saying they are a good side.

"There was as stage when they were coming back into it but we weathered the storm well and we were the better side.

"We go to Coventry next week and they have just been promoted too so it is another step into the unknown. We will celebrate tonight but on Tuesday and Thursday we will be back training again for that fixture."

Leeds United Ladies 2-0 Watford Ladies

Two late goals gave Leeds United the three points in a close encounter between two teams who will be looking to finish in the top half of the table this season.

The visitors started the game brightly, dominating the first half, and Sahara Osborne-Ricketts and Sarah Wiltshire went close early on.

The second half started in much the same vain, with Kate Natkiel striking the underside of the crossbar from long range but, eventually, they were made to pay for their profligacy.

Leeds came back into the game midway through the second period and, with 10 minutes remaining, Millie Bright was felled in the penalty area and skipper Clare Sykes made no mistake from 12 yards out.

Watford then went in search of an elusive equaliser as Leeds hit them on the counter-attack; Leah Galton's cross from the left found Bright in between two Watford defenders and she poked home the winner.

Leeds boss Chris Welburn said: "I thought we struggled early on to deal with their shape and structure but once we got in level at half time and made a few changes we really started to get on top.

"The girls showed tremendous desire and excellent fitness levels. It was a great way to start the season."

Reading Women 1-0 Coventry City Ladies

A Nikki Watts goal was enough to give Reading an opening win against newly-promoted Coventry City.

The goal, just before the hour mark, came from a Trudy Harbison cross and was converted well by Watts.

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