SSE WOMENS' FA CUP (first round proper) MK Dons LFC 0 - 4 Crystal Palace LFC
The first round (proper) of The SSE FA Cup saw Palace Ladies travel to regular, and always testing opponents MK Dons. The all FAWPL tie was always going to be a tricky away draw for The Eagles who made the journey with a strong squad and the returning Freya Holdaway.
Palace started in slower than normal fashion and appeared a little below par, as MK made the early running with efforts from Cudone and Holland for the hosts. Palace showed signs of life in the 11th minute when Northern Ireland international Pammy McRoberts nearly deceived the MK keeper, who just managed to avert the danger. It was the turn of Rochelle Shakes in the 16th minute when a last ditched tackle prevented an attempt on goal. Four minutes later, the lively Gemma Bryan broke through from the halfway line with skill and pace and shot just over the bar.
Palace nerves were settled on 27 minutes after fine work from McRoberts who crossed for Alma Donohoe to shoot on goal. Having not connected well enough with the first attempt, she connected perfectly with the second effort to put The Eagles one up. Palace were put back under some regular pressure for the remainder of the first half with captain Katy Morris leading the Palace rear guard action.
Following an "open, honest and no holds barred" half time team talk from manager Dean Davenport, Palace came out looking a more cohesive and productive unit for the second period. As early as the 48th minute it was the lively Donohoe that went close from a Shakes cross.
On 51 minutes it was Shakes who turned from provider to threat when she was fouled in the area and earned a penalty. A delay was incurred whilst the injured Shakes was replaced by Nicha Dyett, but this did not affect Holdaway who cooly fired home from the spot. The next ten minutes saw Palace turn the heat up, most often through Bryan who was denied by the hosts keeper. MK did respond on occasions and were kept at bay by the agile and confident Chanell Yardley.
Palace struck again and made the game safe on 65 minutes when Bryan turned provider and Donohoe found space again and bagged her second, and the Palace third. Thwarted by some tenacious defending by the hosts, Palace and Bryan in particular, pushed for a fourth, which ultimately came on 82 minutes when Bryan latched on to a through ball and scored the goal that her performance deserved. Both teams, who at times, provided some high class football throughout the game, had late attempts, but with no addition to the scoreline.
Speaking after the comprehensive 4-0 win, Dean Davenport commented, "I am really pleased with the result, against a recently resurgent MK Dons team. To be honest, we were not great in the first half and did well to get in, one up at half time. I was pretty blunt with the girls, who took it in board and put in a good team performance in the second half. We moved the ball well and were dominant across most areas. After losing, albeit against higher placed opposition, last week, it was essential for the girls to take the positives of that game and keep our rhythm going."
Davenport added, "We have had recent good runs in the FA Cup, and we are keen to do the club and the Palace fans proud. So being in the second round, with goals and a clean sheet is very pleasing. However, we must keep our concentration as we head straight back into league action next week".
Palace Ladies would like to thank everyone who continues to support the efforts being made. We really are South London and proud.
MK Dons Ladies: 1. Emma Kirby 2. Rosie Anderson (12. Zoe Lander, 17 mins) 3. Sam Gillings 4. Vicky Holland 5. Claire Hollingsworth 6. Leanne Doyle 7. Heather McDonnell 8. Charley Wright 9. Hannah Barrett (c) (14. Charley Clarke, 64 mins) 10. Sophie Watson 11. Leah Cudone
Crystal Palace Ladies: 1. Chanell Yardley 2. Pamela McRoberts 3. Alma Donohoe 4. Alex Elson (14. Leanne Bell, 72 mins) 5. Katy Morris (c) 6. Sarah Jones 7. Abigail Igbavboa 8. Stephanie Mann 9. Roschelle Shakes (12. Nicha Dyett, 53 mins) 10. Gemma Bryan 11. Freya Holdaway