A packed Hayes Lane crowd watched Crystal Palace battle well with Lewes Women this evening in a tight affair won by two penalties and an impressive long-range effort from the visiting Rooks.
As the game's initial opening exchanges took place at a lethargic pace, Kallie Balfour sparked things into life when she struck Palace's first chance within five minutes by cracking a shot at goal which went inches wide of the post. Barely seconds later, from a handful of yards out, Gemma Bryan missed a guilt-edged chance as she hit from point-blank range too close to shot-stopper Faye Baker.
Sarah Kempson looked to respond to Palace's double threat when she rifled the ball at goal, however on-loan 'keeper Lucy Gillet was equal to it and she tipped the strike round her right post. It was hardly a minute later that the visitors opened their account though when Kempson stroked home an early penalty to record the first notch on the scoreboard.
A while later, catching the Eagles completely unaware, Jess King almost punished Palace for switching off when she latched onto a quick free-kick before hitting an effort only marginally wide of goal.
At the other end of the pitch, Ashlee Hincks did well to shrug off a challenge before releasing a strong shot at goal, which Baker pushed away to safety. Almost immediately after, Gillett pulled off an even mightier save as she leapt to her right to force a hand behind a fizzing shot from Kempson before jumping up to block Katie Rood's rebound.
The Eagles almost went two down when, countering from a Palace free-kick, Lewes failed to capitalise on a scruffy goal-mouth scramble which seemed to present a progression of opportunities to score. The home side, however, held on.
Entering half-time only a goal down in a tight affair, all was left to play for as the two well-balanced teams re-took to the Bromley turf.
Looking to flip the game on its head entirely, Bryan picked up the ball in a harmless location - over 30 yards out - but somehow launched an effort at goal which dipped dramatically before just being palmed away by Baker.
Gillett then pulled off a string of heroic efforts as she put her body on the line from a point-blank shot before rising back up and, seconds later, hurling herself from the turf high into the air, denying Leeta Rutherford.
Minutes later, however, even Gillett couldn't prevent King from bagging her second as she struck from the edge of the box with a rising shot that flew high into the net.
Hincks couldn't quite open her side's account as she latched onto a ball in the centre of Lewes' box, however her control let her down and the visiting defence cleared the threat.
With less than 10 minutes of time remaining, Lewes were given their chance to wrap the game up as they were awarded their second penalty of the night. Rood stepped up and took the chance with confidence.
All that was left to do for Lewes was see the clash out, which they did well and, at the final whistle, the Eagles had lost to perhaps an unjust scoreline.
In spite of the result, the Ladies can be proud to have attracted almost 800 fans down to Hayes Lane, including first-team players Mamadou Sakho, Bakary Sako and Wilfried Zaha for a great night of entertaining football and off-the-pitch activity.
Palace: Gillett, McRoberts, Nuttall (Haydock 68), Holdaway, Collins, Mackenzie, Georgiou, Hincks, Bryan (Chandler 68), Whinnett, Balfour (Davenport 84).
Subs not used: Salgado, Watling, Nash, Keogh.
Lewes: Baker, Perry, McIntyre, Rutherford, Kempson (Boswell 81), Paye, Lane, O'Rourke, Quayle, Rood, King (Bridge).
Subs not used: Apps, Moloney, Larkin, Robert.