Surrey FA County Cup
Crystal Palace Ladies 13-0 Egham Town Ladies
Crystal Palace Ladies took the first step into the Surrey FA County Cup on Sunday, determined to avoid banana skins and other such clichés when hosting Egham Town Ladies at Bromley FC.
On paper, the tie heavily favoured The Eagles who sit a few leagues above their opponents, and, speaking before the game, head coach Dean Davenport was keen to ensure that nothing was taken for granted.
"It's very important that the girls focus on the task in hand today," he said. "Egham will come here with nothing to lose. We are carrying good form into the game and it is important that we stick to the plan"
Following a sombre and respectful minute's silence following the tragic events in Paris on Friday, Palace, who were missing Angie Kiobel, Mary Robinson and the injured Leanne Bell, set about the task in hand with efficiency and a degree of ruthlessness. This was illustrated in an opening five minutes that saw the visitors barely touch the ball. This culminated in a fine run by Abi Igbavboa, left to right across the edge of the area, settle and fire home from 18 yards.
Palace sought to immediately hammer home the advantage and dictate the flow of the game and it was Igbavboa that again struck from range to put The Eagles two up on 15 minutes. With Egham clearly rocked, Palace went all out and went close on numerous occasions, thwarted by some good goalkeeping by the Egham number one.
On 25 minutes it was the turn of the industrious Leesa Haydock, who latched on to a bouncing ball and half-volleyed into the Egham net.
The fourth Palace goal, on the half-hour, was a special one. Freya Holdaway received the ball on the halfway line and pressed forwards, outwitting two challenges before firing the ball with pinpoint precision into the top corner from over 20 yards.
Palace were now in full flow, with the roll-on, roll-off substitutions being capitalised on. Heading towards half time, The Eagles looked to put the game beyond all reach. Five minutes before the break, Jade Davenport put in one of many accurate crosses from the right, that was met exquisitely by Rochelle Shakes with a flicked volley that cannoned off the bar and fell to Alma Donohoe who was following up from the left. With clinical precision, Donohoe fired home from eight yards.
A sixth came on 43 minutes when Davenport again supplied Shakes, who converted from close range, completing a ruthless and impressive half of football for the hosts.
The second half saw Palace deliver much of the same in a respectful but dominant period of football. The scoring re-opened with Shakes grabbing her second on 49 minutes and continued on 58 minutes when Kelsey Zalimeni cut inside from the left and let fly a rocket of a shot from 25 yards low into the far right corner.
With Palace settled into useful spells of possession and passing, a tiring but valiant Egham were continually stretched. On 75 minutes Holdaway added her second and Palace's ninth with a close range header. Not to be outdone, Shakes bagged her hat-trick on 80 minutes.
One of the goals of the game followed two minutes later when following some lovely build up play, a ball across the edge of the area fell to Gemma Bryan who unselfishly threw in an outrageous dummy, allowing Igbavboa to fire home into the top corner for her hat-trick.
With Egham now spent, Palace scored two rapid fire goals in the final five minutes through a Donohoe second and a well deserved addition from Bryan, whose tenacity and patience was recognised by the appreciative crowd and her teammates.
Speaking after the hugely impressive 13-0 win, Dean Davenport was clearly impressed, but typically grounded.
"First off, let's give credit to Egham who were playing above their usual level today," he said. "They were honest, determined and gave their all. As a team that has progressed from the Surrey League in recent years, we know how hard they must be working, and we wish them luck for the future.
"Looking at our performance today, the girls did exactly as they were asked. We put into practice some good passing and possession phases and looked to exploit opportunities as individuals and a team. We scored some great goals today, from all areas of the pitch, with a blend of experience and youth. All in all, we can be very pleased with a good days work and can now look forward to the draw for the next round."
Looking forwards, Dean added, "Next week sees us back in league action at home against Lowestoft, so it's back to the training ground this week and ready ourselves for the next big game.
"Hopefully, we can get another good crowd in, to add to the new faces that joined us today. The backing of the Palace fans means so much to us and we look forwards to welcoming them to a Hayes Lane."
The draw for the next round of the Surrey FA County Cup has seen Palace drawn at home against Abbey Rangers, whilst the Reserves have been given a tough home tie against AFC Wimbledon.
Crystal Palace Ladies host Lowestoft Town Ladies in The FA Women's Premier League on Sunday 22nd November at Bromley FC, Hayes Lane, BR2 9EF.
Kick off is at 2pm. Crystal Palace season ticket holders can attend for free. Entry is £3 per adult with under 16s free.