Crystal Palace Ladies secured their place in the Women’s Capital Cup Final, on Sunday with a well deserved victory, away at Queens Park Rangers, with goals in each half, from Ciara Sherwood and Lilli Maple.
Heading into the game, Palace Manager, Dean Davenport was looking for a level of performance that any semi-final deserved,
“We have been working hard of late, and despite some indifferent spells in recent games, have felt that we are not far off the kind of form that was the hallmark of the first half of the season. The game today, is a chance for the players to push further forwards and look to gain a place in a final, that we feel their season deserves.”
Palace were not without changes for the semi-final, still contending with a number of injuries to key players. Dean added,
“Gemma is doing well, having had some really appreciated help from the CPFC medical team this week. Leesa, is still longer term, as is Nikita”
Asked as to captain, Freya Holdaway being absent from the starting line-up, Dean added,
“Freya has been touch and go, and we felt that it was best to rest her to start with. Whilst a player in her form will always be missed, we have excellent cover across the squad.”
Palace started the match in buoyant style, looking to dictate the play and rhythm. This resulted in play being compressed into the Rangers half, early corners and in the ninth minute, the first goal of the game, from captain, Ciara Sherwood; firing home from the edge of the area.
Palace looked to capitalise and could have done so, had it not been for a resilient display from a QPR team, vastly improved from the start of the season. Occasionally missing the movement and finishing of Gemma Bryan, Palace could and should have added to the score-line before half time, but in Sam Rowlands, making her second appearance for The Eagles seem to have added well.
The second half saw a tactical change from Davenport with a view to add a little more threat in and around the final third. Again, Palace found QPR in determined mood, with patience, very much, being the key.
The game was effectively settled in the seventy-first minute through Palace midfielder Lilli Maple who has taken to life back at Palace with aplomb, putting in a series of high energy and high quality performances.
In truth, Palace could have won by more than two goals in the game, although QPR deserve credit for the way in which they went about their task and more so, their spirit in developing from a desperate position at the start of the season.
Speaking after the game, with his team celebrating another cup final reached, Dean Davenport concluded,
“We are really pleased with the win and feel that the result reflects not only the performance today, but also the efforts in recent matches. The girls deserved a win and it is good that they have that winning feeling, once again. The aim will be to use this result and confidence and take it into the league match, back here next weekend.”
Asked as to the progress of the Women’s Super League bid, Dean added,
“It is a huge task, but it is going OK. Thankfully, we have some good people, spending much time on the bid, allowing us to look after the football side of things. But, it is all being made easier by the hard yards we have all put in over the past few years.
We have some good plans coming to fruition over the next week or so and urge the Palace fans to help push our message out there. With our parent club fully behind us, and the best fans in the business, we are going to be giving it all we have!”
Palace Ladies await the confirmation of their opponents in the Capital Cup final (Charlton Athletic or Leyton Orient).
The Eagles are back in action against QPR next Sunday at Uxbridge FC, this time in FAWPL action.