Palace Ladies returned to winning ways in the FA Women’s Premier League on Sunday with a win over Portsmouth Ladies.
Looking to put the recent goalless draw against Coventry United and 1-0 defeat away at Lewes behind them, Palace certainly rode their luck and dug out a much needed win.
The Eagles, who had made some defensive changes and started with Jade Davenport on the right wing, at times struggled to exert their usual control over the game and were made to work hard for any opportunity they had.
In fact, it was Portsmouth who started the brightest with good possession, albeit being unable to convert this to any early advantage. Palace took a while to settle, but, in time showed elements of their early-season possession and passing game, with Gemma Bryan and Nikita Whinnett working hard across the front line with Bryan going the closest in the opening 25 minutes.
The deadlock was broken in the 26th minute, when Bryan chased down a lost cause on the left and drove to the byline before cutting back on to her right foot and curling an exquisite shot into the far right, top corner of the net, leaving the Pompey keeper with no chance.
Despite the lead, Palace remained unsettled and at times appeared nervy, as Portsmouth rallied. And, it was through some loose possession play from Palace that the visitors could, and probably should have scored on a couple of occasions before half-time. Despite some glaring opportunities, those that were on target were saved by Megen Lynch, who ultimately picked up the player of the match award.
The second half started with Palace looking to exert control and protect their lead, working hard to do so, with some stronger performances assisting in this; not least from the hard working Ellie Bailes who tirelessly looked to link the midfield battle to the front two.
However, despite the increase in possession and cohesion, the lead remained vulnerable and was only kept intact by more missed opportunities by Portsmouth and the continuation of a good afternoon, between the sticks for Lynch.
Palace nerves were somewhat calmed in the 82nd minute, when a penalty was awarded after it was deemed that Pam McRoberts had been fouled in the area. Despite the contentious nature of the award, Bryan remained cool and fired home from 12 yards.
Both teams continued to attack and could have added to the scoreline, with Bryan hitting the post following a good run and shot and the visitors, again, testing Lynch who remained steadfast and even when beaten, was covered by young defender Lydia Huntley, clearing off the line and helping secure a very welcome Palace win.