Crystal Palace Ladies welcomed professional outfit Manchester United Women to Hayes Lane on a blustery Sunday afternoon, following a two week break from competitive football.
The Red Devils' trip to south London was well publicised, and was an opportunity for Palace to show the levels of support that their efforts on and off the pitch are yielding.
The visitors started the game on the front foot, with England international Alex Greenwood testing Shanell Salgado with barely 30 seconds on the clock, albeit seeing the Palace 'keeper produce a comfortable save.
Ten minutes later, a clearance from inside the Palace box was intercepted and Kirsty Hanson looked to take advantage, but the winger saw her low effort inadvertently blocked by Mollie Green.
Palace worked the ball well not long after, and Ashlee Hincks' pace down the right saw her gain a yard on the United back four. Her following delivery was made in vain, however, as no Palace player was able to get on the end of it.
Against the run of play, the visitors took the lead after 17 minutes. With United on the attack, a through ball was played into the box, but when Salgado came to claim it, Hanson beat her there and squared into the centre of the box for Lizzie Arnot to stroke home.
Palace immediately responded, and Kallie Balfour, through on goal, was sandwiched in between United defenders. Though having gone down following a strong collision, she saw vocal penalty appeals waved away.
Minutes later, Balfour's knock caught up with her, and she was substituted off the field. The loss of the pacey and influential forward came as a blow to Palace, who immediately switched to a new formation to keep United in check.
Martha Harris then went very close to doubling the Red Devils' lead, but after finding space in the penalty area, her low, driven effort was blocked in the nick of time by a retreating Hannah Mackenzie.
With just ten minutes of the first half left, Ella Toone unexpectedly saw the ball drop to her feet on the edge of the six yard box. She was frustrated to slot wide with only Palace's Salgado to beat.
After the shot-stopper then saved a well-struck effort from Hanson, Chloe Burr used her pace to get the better of Greenwood down the right, but, again, there was no one in the box to divert her cross goalbound.
A minute into the second half, Burr got onto the end of a lofted ball towards United’s back post from Nikita Whinnett, but having shaped up for a first time volley, saw her effort fly inches over the bar.
Two minutes on and Palace would come even closer, but after Whinnett beat Chamberlain to a long punt into the box, Greenwood managed to recover and clear the ball away as it rolled towards goal.
Palace would live to regret missed chances that afternoon, as Arnot notched her and United’s second on 55 minutes, bundling home a low cross amongst a flurry of challenges in the six yard box.
Charlie Devlin then forced Salgado into a good save, with the stopper smothering her 20-yard volley well. United then registered their third of the day after more persistent pressure, as Mollie Green curled home a stunning effort in off Palace's right hand post from just inside the box.
The Eagles would be indebted to Salgado twice in the following ten minutes however, as she first pulled off an incredible reaction save to deny Jess Sigsworth, before diving down to her left at full stretch to tip a Millie Turner piledriver wide.
Though, with 15 minutes left on the clock, Ria Collins fouled Lauren James in the penalty area, resulting in a spot kick being awarded to the visitors. Greenwood stepped up and confidently tucked the penalty home, having sent Salgado the wrong way.
On 81 minutes, four would become five for United, as Green ran onto a well weighted through ball in the box. Finding herself one on one with Salgado, she then finished underneath the advancing goalkeeper cooly.
There was time for one more save from Salgado though, as James cut in from the left and unleashed a stinging drive across the face of goal, to which the Eagles’ ‘keeper reacted well to tip away from danger.
Palace: Salgado, Butler, Nuttal, Collins, Mackenzie, Haydock (Chandler 68), Watling, Burr, Whinnett, Balfour (Giorgiou 29), Hincks.
Subs not used: Davenport, McRoberts, Nash, Holdaway, Green.
Chamberlain; Harris, A. Turner, M. Turner, Greenwood, Green, Zelem, Devlin (James 72), Arnot, Toone (Sigsworth 45), Hanson (Smith 65).
Subs not used: Bentley, Roberts, Hartley, Palmer.