Off the back of a 1-1 draw with Reading on the opening day of the weekend, Palace Women arrived at St Andrew's seeking a first Women's Championship win of the season in their second match of 23/24.
The hosts immediately had a shot on target: Ellie Mason found herself with a sight of goal right from the off, but her rather tame effort was straight at Natalia Negri.
The Eagles soon had a chance of their own though; a corner won by Polly Doran was swung in by Fliss Gibbons and resulted in a goalmouth scramble. The ball fell to Elise Hughes who fired in a shot through a sea of legs, only to be denied by Birmingham goalkeeper, Lucy Thomas.
Hughes’ effort turned out to be Palace’s best chance of the opening half. Despite Palace putting Birmingham under pressure with a high press early on, the Blues navigated it well and were in control of possession for much of the first half.
The Blues put this possession to good use and created two good chances in quick succession, although Negri was equal to them both. 15 minutes in, Jade Pennock deftly flicked on Jamie Finn’s cross to Lily Agg, whose left-footed attempt was stopped by the right boot of Negri.
A minute later, Birmingham skipper Christie Harrison-Murray capitalised on a misplaced pass just outside the penalty area and fed Agg inside the box. The midfielder latched on to the through ball and fired at goal but was denied brilliantly once again by the Palace ‘keeper at the near post.
The Eagles were forced to be patient in order to exploit any gaps in the resolute Birmingham defence, and almost found a way through via Annabel Blanchard. The forward received the ball on the right-hand side of the penalty area and shifted between two defenders before firing on the turn just past the near post.
Further chances came the way of the hosts, with a Harrison-Murray free-kick that sailed over the crossbar and Agg meeting a corner with a header that did little to trouble Negri. Both sides were unable to break the deadlock, however, and headed into the break at 0-0.
Birmingham appeared to carry their positive momentum into the second half as an early chance came for Pennock, whose shot from the edge of the area floated over the crossbar.
Despite positive build-up play from both sides, clear-cut chances then became relatively scarce as each team sought to wear the other down. Long-range attempts by Blanchard and Filbey both drifted wide as Palace went on the hunt for an opener.
The game seemed to spark back into life when 17-year-old Araya Dennis entered the fray, making her debut after joining yesterday from Arsenal under a dual-registration agreement. Her introduction was a good omen for the Eagles, who took the lead a minute later.
Gibbons whipped in a corner (once again won by Doran) from the right-hand side and Palace captain Aimee Everett rose highest to nod the ball home at the near post.
Palace’s patience had paid off, with the home side appearing to be rocked by the goal. Meanwhile the visitors continued to look dangerous every time they went forward, particularly when the ball was at the feet of Blanchard, who was at the centre of almost every Palace attack, and Dennis.
The duo linked up to produce Palace’s second of the afternoon – a delightful through ball by Blanchard found the debutant in the penalty area, who calmly slotted first-time past Thomas to extend the Eagles’ advantage.
Birmingham seemed as though they might mount a comeback in stoppage time when Lucy Quinn’s cross was met by Louise Quinn, with Negri unable to prevent the goal despite getting her hands to the ball.
However, the Blues’ late strike proved to be too little, too late, as Palace held on to take the win and remain undefeated to start the season.
Laura Kaminski’s side can now look ahead to next weekend, where they take on Durham at home.
Palace: Negri, Reilly, Everett (c), Nolan, Gibbons, Filbey (Arthur, 81), Hopcroft (Guyatt, 76), Blanchard, Doran, Hughes, Sharpe (Dennis, 76)
Subs not used: Wright, Johnson, Bailey-Gayle, Potter
Birmingham: Thomas, Mason (Dungate, 81), Quinn, Lawley, Pennock (Devlin, 81), Finn, Harrison-Murray (c), Agg, Walker (Quinn, 65), Allen, Herron
Subs not used: Clarke, Worsey, Moore, Cowie, Banaras