The Palace Ladies welcomed London Bees to Hayes Lane on a wet and blustery Sunday afternoon, in search of their first league win of the campaign, and what would also be a first ever FA Women's Championship victory for the Eagles.
The home side started very much on the front foot, and experienced striker Ashlee Hincks was the first to register an attempt, but saw her long range strike deflected behind for a corner, which was punched away by Sarah Quantrill in the Bees goal.
At the other end, Shanell Salgado, making her first full appearance for the Eagles, was called into action for the first time on eight minutes. Brooke Nunn broke into the box and sent an angled strike across goal, but Salgado was equal to it. Just seven minutes later, Kallie Balfour surged into the box and attempted an angled drive at goal, but she failed to connect properly with the ball, and her tame effort rolled straight into the arms of Quantrill.
The aforementioned Bees stopper was called into action again soon after, as Chloe Burr's persistence saw her regain possession just outside the box, and struck at goal, only for Quantrill to make another smart save.
However, five minutes later, the Eagles would take the lead. Following good work from Balfour, shielding the ball from a defender with her back to goal and threading the ball back to Hincks, the latter made no mistake from the edge of the box, slamming home into the bottom corner.
After Balfour shot straight at Quantrill from 20 yards, London Bees would have their best chance of the half, with just five minutes of it left. Tricia Gould worked herself some space in the box and blasted an effort towards the roof of the net, but Salgado denied her, making a fantastic fingertip save. In the dying moments of injury time, Gould took advantage of a poor pass across the Palace back line and raced into the box, before shooting inches wide.
After a slow start to proceedings in the second half, the Bees would find themselves with a golden opportunity on 57 minutes. Nicola Gibson got ahead of the Palace defence and met an inswinging free kick with her head, but from the edge of the six yard box, she headed high over the crossbar.
Yet, just two minutes on, and Palace would have a golden opportunity of their own to double the lead. After Hope Nash was inexplicably pushed over in the box, the referee had no hesitation in pointing to the spot. Hincks, fresh from scoring the opener, stepped up and struck a low penalty towards Quantrill's bottom left corner, but the Bees stopper guessed the correct way, and tipped the ball around the post.
Annabel Johnson then nearly levelled things up in rather fortuitous fashion, as her cross from the right hand flank caught the wind and floated onto the crossbar, before being cleared. The visitors went even closer in their hunt for an equaliser on 71 minutes, as substitute Connie Foreman chipped the onrushing Salgado, only for Hannah Mackenzie to intervene, and clear the ball off the line.
Salgado was to thank once again late on. A Bees corner was met by the head of an orange shirt in a crowded penalty area, but despite the effort looking destined for the bottom corner, the Eagles 'keeper made a superb reaction save, tipping the ball away from goal.
With Lauren Pickett volleying wide for the Bees, and Burr shooting just over the bar in the dying minutes, Palace held on for what was a lot more than just three points; a first ever FA Women's Championship win for the Club.
Speaking after the match, manager Dean Davenport commented,
“This was a much needed result today. Not only in terms of the points, but for a squad that has worked so hard, played well in a number of their matches and not always had their share of luck. Today was richly deserved for a group, determined to work hard and believe in themselves. I thought that some of our football today was excellent, and a true representation of what we are about. We are all thrilled for the team, fans and the club, having added another small page to the Crystal Palace history book.”
Palace XI: Salgado, Nuttall, Collins (McRoberts 90'), Mackenzie, Nash, Haydock, Holdaway, Whinnett (Watling 80'), Burr, Balfour (Georgiou 85')
Unused substitutes: Keogh, Ali, Butler.