Ladies hold off Charlton

West Ham United Ladies overcame the absence of Flora London Marathon runners Gemma Shepherd and Katie Holmes to secure an impressive 3-2 win at Charlton Athletic..

While Shepherd and Holmes pounding 26 miles and 385 yards around the streets of the capital, goals from top scorer Sam Pittuck, Rosey Sullivan and Tracey Duxbury were enough to see the Hammers keep up their challenge for a second place finish in the FA Tesco Women's Premier League Southern Division.

United are now unbeaten in nine league matches and eleven games in all competitions.

West Ham produced a bright performance in warm sunshine at Princes Park in Dartford, winning far more comfortably than the final scoreline suggested. Trailing at half-time, the visitors scored three goals in 12 second half minutes to turn the game on its head after Charlton had taken an early lead.

Manager Tony Marshall was hugely impressed by his team's display against a Charlton side who began the day level with the third-placed Hammers on 33 points.

The hosts, coached by former Charlton midfielder Paul Mortimer, were put under pressure from the opening whistle, with Duxbury forcing two superb early saves from Addicks goalkeeper Becky Musial. Action then switched to the other end, with West Ham goalkeeper Paris Smith doing well to repel an effort from Charlton's Toni Alden.

The home side took the lead on 23 minutes when striker Natalie Crinean rounded Smith before finishing. Pittuck came close to an immediate equaliser, only for Musial to make another good stop with her feet. Duxbury was next to test the Charlton stopper, forcing her into a fingertip save.

Into the second half and West Ham continued to press for a leveller, and their hard work was rewarded on 61 minutes when Duxbury raced clear before finishing clinically. Five minutes later, former Charlton player Toni-Anne Wayne delivered a high free-kick that was volleyed into the net at the far post by the unmarked Sullivan to give the Hammers the lead.

Pittuck rubbed salt into Charlton's wounds on 73 minutes, beating the offside trap before sending a low shot past Musial from the edge of the penalty area to score her 28th goal in 28 games this season.

Ellie Stenning netted a late consolation for the hosts with a minute remaining, but West Ham had done enough to earn their first ever win against Charlton and one that put them level on 36 points with second-placed Barnet. The Hammers have one game remaining, at home to Portsmouth on Sunday, while both Barnet and Charlton have two matches still to play.

While their team-mates were excelling on the pitch, Shepherd and Holmes completed the marathon in four hours and 21 minutes.