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      Report & Highlights: Fantastic four for Palace Women at Blackburn

      Blackburn Rovers Women
      Crystal Palace Women
      Hopcroft 13'
      Doran 71'
      Blanchard 79'
      Sharpe 86'

      Crystal Palace Women continued their superb start to the season with a dominant 4-0 win over Women’s Championship leaders Blackburn Rovers at Ewood Park.


      • Palace go into first fixture in three weeks unbeaten, while Blackburn top Championship
      • Eagles make three changes from 1-1 draw at Sunderland
      • Blackburn start brightly and have early penalty appeal waved away
      • Hopcroft scores first Palace goal after 13 minutes, tucking away a loose ball
      • Eagles go on to dominate possession, Hughes blocked inside the box
      • Sharpe forces goalkeeper Brooks to save a flying header
      • HT: Blackburn 0-1 Palace
      • Palace retain possession well in steady start to the second-half
      • Brooms denies Reilly’s close-range header
      • Hughes tees up Doran to double Palace’s advantage with 20 minutes remaining
      • Blanchard comes off the bench and scores spectacular third within minutes
      • Watson makes Palace debut, the forward’s first appearance in over a year
      • Sharpe heads in Gibbons’ corner at the back post to complete the rout
      • FT: Blackburn 0-4 Palace
      Women's Match Highlights: Blackburn Rovers 0-4 Crystal Palace

      After riding out some pressure in the early stages, Shanade Hopcroft’s clinical finish – her first goal for Palace coming after 13 minutes – paved the way for another emphatic victory from Laura Kaminski’s side.

      While chances proved generally scarce, the Eagles were clinical with them when they arrived, with goals from Polly Doran, substitute Annabel Blanchard and Molly Sharpe all falling in the last 20 minutes.

      The three points see Palace remain unbeaten at the start of the 2023/24 season, but move within a point of Southampton at the top of the Women’s Championship – and having played one game fewer.

      Kaminski made three changes to the side which was denied victory late on at Sunderland last time out, with Shauna Guyatt making her first start of the season and wingers Araya Dennis and Polly Doran also restored to the starting XI.

      The Eagles were playing their first fixture in three weeks following the September international break and the postponement of last week’s match with Sheffield United.

      It was perhaps understandable, therefore, that it took the Eagles the early stages of the game to really click into gear, with Blackburn dominating the opening exchanges at Ewood Park.

      The hosts won a succession of early corner kicks and indeed appealed for a penalty when ‘keeper Natalia Negri came together with Megan Hornby, but the referee waved away home appeals.

      But with the Eagles’ first real penetrative move, they had the lead, a strong run from Guyatt culminating in a ricochet falling for Hopcroft to sweep home for her first goal since joining the club this summer.

      It was the catalyst for a more controlled display from the visitors, who saw Elise Hughes’ shot blocked inside the box, Araya Dennis' finish flash across the face of goal and Sharpe’s towering header saved by goalkeeper Alexandra Brooks.

      Palace finished the half strongly as Brooks also denied Dennis and Guyatt in quick succession, whilst Hornby fired over at the other end, but they were good value for their lead going into the break.

      The beginning of the second-half was disrupted by a brief injury to Dennis, replaced by Anna Filbey, but Palace continued to retain possession well and wait for their openings.

      With Blackburn beginning to push players forwards in the closing stages, gaps opened up for Kaminski’s side to exploit.

      And after 71 minutes, mere moments after Kirstein Reilly’s header was kept out by Brooks, another quick transition allowed Hughes to tee up Doran for the right winger to finish into the bottom corner for her first goal of the season.

      A raft of substitutions followed for both sides but it was Blanchard – two seasons ago Blackburn’s Player of the Year – who made the most impact, picking up the ball 40 yards from goal, driving towards the box and hitting a brilliant strike into the bottom corner from range.

      Palace had further reason to celebrate minutes later when forward Lucy Watson – signed on loan from Chelsea after an ACL injury cut short her loan at Charlton last year – made her Palace debut from the bench, and a first match in over a year for the talented forward.

      The gloss to another glorious result was added by Sharpe with five minutes remaining, the forward heading home a corner from Fliss Gibbons – now the Championship’s top assist provider, with four in five games – to seal yet another memorable result for Palace Women this season.

      Tickets for Palace Women's next fixture, against London City Lionesses on Sunday (15th October), are now on sale.

      Palace: Negri (GK), Reilly, Everett, Nolan, Gibbons, Guyatt (Blanchard, 73), Hopcroft, Doran (Watson, 82), Sharpe, Dennis (Filbey, 63), Hughes

      Subs not used: Lambourne (GK), Johnson, Cataldo, Bailey-Gayle, Potter