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      Report: Palace Women edged out in front of record crowd

      Crystal Palace Women
      Haines 45+3'
      Southampton F.C. Women
      Lloyd-Smith 5' 47'

      On Sunday afternoon Crystal Palace Women hosted Southampton at Selhurst Park, where they attracted a record attendance of 1,876. Sadly the game didn’t end the way the crowd wanted, with the final score 2-1 to Saints, but the day will go down as a landmark one regardless.


      • Southampton score first through the eventual brace-earning Lexi Lloyd-Smith
      • Coral Haines creates several attempts for Palace
      • She eventually finds the back of the net but is ruled out for offside
      • Two minutes of extra time are awarded in the first-half, during which Annabel Blanchard secures a free-kick which leads to Haines levelling the score moments before half-time
      • Half-time: Crystal Palace 1-1 Southampton
      • Lloyd-Smith lands her brace and puts Saints ahead
      • Molly Sharpe goes close to the goal but her shot is blocked
      • Chloe Arthur attempts to score from a distance but fires over the bar
      • Full-time: Crystal Palace 1-2 Southampton

      After a week off, Crystal Palace Women came out fighting in the hope of securing third consecutive win as they sat top of the Women’s Championship before kick-off. However playing at Selhurst Park against Southampton, the hosts’ winning streak came to an end.

      In the first 10 minutes it was all stations go, with Southampton’s Beth Lumsden striking at goal, but Palace goalkeeper Fran Kitching smoothly intercepted the ball. The visitors weren’t ready to accept parity however, and in the sixth minute Lexi Lloyd-Smith scored after Lumsden broke behind the Palace defence and squared to her teammate.

      The south Londoners fought back with fire in their hearts as Coral Haines attempted to score from outside the box only to fire over the bar. The forward didn’t give up though and two minutes later created another long-range effort, sending the ball looping towards goal. On target this time, but frustratingly Southampton ‘keeper Kayla Rendell claimed confidently.

      After 20 minutes Haines produced another effort and this time found the net only to have her apparent equaliser ruled out for offside; Annabel Blanchard having broken through too early in the buildup. With one shot over, one saved, and one ruled out for offside, Haines was certainly getting closer to a notch on the scoreboard.

      Before she pulled Palace level however Southampton created another chance, as Kate Wilkinson latched onto a through ball which Kitching stood strong in front of to keep Palace very much in the game.

      Chances continued to fall at both ends of the Selhurst turf: Chloe Arthur looped a cross Rendell fumbled, and after Isabella Sibley pulled it back to Blanchard, the ‘keeper saved with her feet. Shortly after Blanchard and Sibley reversed roles, with the former turning provider only for her teammate to hit the post.

      The breakthrough would come, however, and no Southampton player would have been surprised by who found it. Blanchard secured a free-kick and thwacked the right upright, sending the ball spinning loose in the box. Haines wasted no time in reacting, and struck past Rendell to finally pull her side level.

      Entering the second-half at 1-1, the atmosphere inside Selhurst was positive but tense: it remained anyone’s game.

      Minutes after returning that would change, as Lloyd-Smith succeeded in scoring again by smashing in from the left of the box.

      Beth Lumsden tried to make it three from the visitors, but solid defending from Aimee Everett prevented the ball from getting close to goal.

      Molly Sharpe then drifted close to goal but saw her shot blocked as Palace again faced an uphill challenge. Arthur sought to rectify that with a great cross, but Haines headed straight at the ‘keeper from six yards.

      The two teams remained well-matched and on the hunt for another goal, with Southampton managing the next effort: forcing Kitching into another one-on-one save to deny Caitlin Morris.

      Heading into three minutes of extra time, Rendell fumbled a Lizzie Waldie cross, but no one was able to gain control of the untamed ball. Palace fought to the last minute to try to gain a leveller before final time, yet unfortunately the whistle blew, leaving Southampton the winners.

      Palace: Kitching, Johnson (Waldie 83), Sibley, Doran, Everett, Peplow, Haines, Arthur, Filbey, Sharpe (Hughes 69), Blanchard (Barton 69).

      Subs not used: Negri (GK), Reilly, Olding, Noble, Guyatt.

      Southampton: Rendell, Peake, Parnell, Rafferty, Ward (Mott 69), Rutherford, Collett, Morris, Lumsden (Pusey 90+1), Lloyd-Smith (Wynne 82), Wilkinson (Griffiths 82).

      Subs not used: Freeland, Williams, Watling, Harris.

      Thank you to each and every supporter who backed the team on Sunday. You can buy tickets for future Palace Women's through the ticketing site.