Palace Ladies secured a resounding victory against Portsmouth on Sunday, netting seven and keeping a clean sheet. However, the game, hosted at Beckenham Town FC, was marred by a serious injury to Palace midfielder, Francesca Ali.
With the game very much won by half time, Palace were pushing on in the second period when Ali was abruptly halted on a surging run that typifies her style; as she was fouled from behind with an impact that was immediately obvious as serious, Ali was down and treated for some time before being stretchered off with a serious ankle injury. Following the game, it was confirmed that Franny had suffered a fractured Tibia and dislocated ankle. Everyone connected with Palace Ladies would like to wish Fran the very best for a speedy recovery.
The match itself had started more brightly for the visitors as Palace appeared to be slower out of the traps than usual, despite the rallying call that had been issued beforehand; one that challenged the players to push to the very end of the season and ensure that their hard work to date is not undermined.
The Eagles did, eventually start to find their usual tempo, albeit in spells. One of these spells saw Palace win a series of corners, that caused regular trouble for the Pompey ‘keeper and defence. It was from one of these, in the ninth minute that the ball ran loose to Rosie Paye who hammered home from six yards. The lead was doubled seven minutes later, when after a flowing move, Roschelle Shakes slid the ball home.
Palace, by now, were controlling much of the game, although were not perhaps, controlling it as they would have liked. The Palace third was added by leading goal scorer, Gemma Bryan, when another good move was latched onto by the striker, who was initially thwarted by the Pompey ‘keeper, Paines who rushed out to challenge Bryan. Paines was unable to retain the ball and Bryan coolly fired home in the second minute of injury time at the end of the first half. Palace were not quite done for the first period and sought to maximise the stunned Portsmouth team. It was from another corner, this time a short one, followed by a cross to the back post, that led to Paye heading home her second and a Palace fourth.
The second half started as the first had ended, with Palace seeking to pressure the visitors. This, again generated results when Bryan was set free by a pinpoint pass, with a somewhat inevitable outcome. The ball calmly slotted under the approaching ‘keeper, Bryan add her second and a Palace fifth in the forty-ninth minute.
To the credit of Portsmouth, they battled on and looked to damage the Palace clean sheet, but were repelled by Yardley in the Palace goal, when called upon. Despite this endeavour, it was Palace who added more goals. The sixth resulted from a good run and pass by Davenport and saw Eliie Bailes, control and score from close range in the 87th minute, whilst the seventh and final goal was a bright moment on an afternoon affected by the Ali injury. Collecting a loose ball inside the box, young substitute Darcey Charlesworth, steered the ball into the far corner to score her first goal for the senior team. The reaction to this goal perhaps typifies the team spirit in this Palace squad, who, to a player reacted with sheer joy and pride for the teenager. It is this spirit that is sure to make the recovery of Ali that much easier.
Speaking after the seven goal win, Palace Ladies manager, Dean Davenport commented,
“Firstly, we would all like to wish Franny well. Seeing one of our own leaving in an ambulance is hard for us all and the injury looks serious. Having said that, she is the sort of character that will bounce back, stronger and we will do what we can to help with that.
As to the performance, we are happy. A bag full of goals, clean sheet and three points is all we could ask for. I thought that in spells today we looked good. The first twenty minutes were not our best and Portsmouth looked good. But football is strange; last week we played superbly well for ninety minutes and came away with nothing and this week we flattered to deceive for that opening spell and came through it with two goals. Having said that, we did kick on and settle into some good phases of play, using the ball well and being clinical when given the chance.
May, we have one more task to complete; something that we will all be very much up for.”th"We asked the girls to play to the very end of the season, and they are delivering. With just the one game left, at home to Cardiff on 14
Next game:- Sunday 14th May 2017. v Cardiff City Ladies FC, at Beckenham Town FC. Kick off 2.00pm.
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