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Crystal palace

      Report & Highlights: Palace lose out late to Saints in front of record crowd

      Crystal Palace Women
      Everett 18'
      Hughes 44' 56'
      Southampton F.C. Women
      Pike 13'
      Morris 23'
      Dean 70'
      Wilkinson 84'

      Crystal Palace Women suffered late heartbreak in a 4-3 defeat to Southampton at Selhurst Park, but treated a club-record attendance (4,442 ticket sales) to a pulsating fixture at the top end of the Women’s Championship.


      • Record 4,442 ticket sales form backdrop to Palace Women facing Southampton at Selhurst Park
      • Visitors start brightly as Lambourne tips away wayward Morris cross
      • Pike slots in to give Southampton the lead after 15 minutes
      • Palace reply immediately, captain Everett with a thumping header from Gibbons’ free-kick
      • Morris’ looping header restores Saints’ advantage moments later
      • Hughes’ effort blocked inside the box as Palace seek second equaliser
      • Wales international pounces on the stroke of half-time to side-foot home Gibbons’ cross
      • HT: Palace 2-2 Southampton
      • Lambourne denies Saints with her legs early in the second-half
      • Dennis wins penalty with smart turn, dispatched by Hughes to give Palace the lead
      • Pace of the game settles as Palace look to retain possession
      • Lambourne tips Griffiths header against the bar and Dean tucks in Southampton equaliser
      • Saints snatch late winner through Wilkinson’s glancing header
      • FT: Palace 3-4 Southampton
      Women's Highlights: Crystal Palace 3-4 Southampton

      A see-saw game saw Palace twice equalise in the first-half through Aimee Everett and Elise Hughes, before taking the lead early in the second through Hughes – only to then find themselves on the wrong end of a Southampton comeback.

      Nevertheless, a day of family fun at Selhurst Park, was the perfect example of the entertainment the Women’s Championship continues to provide – an enthralling encounter played out in front of a huge crowd, with 4,442 tickets sold ahead of kick-off.

      The figure soared high above Palace’s record – set against Charlton Athletic last November – of 1,969 fans, and was testament to the fantastic start made by the Eagles this season.

      With the two teams going into the game as top-scorers (Palace, with 31 goals in nine games ahead of kick-off) and second-top (Southampton, with 17 in 10), goals were always likely to be on the agenda in SE25.

      And with earlier results elsewhere in the Championship meaning the winners would go top of the table, there was plenty to play for.

      Despite Palace going into the game unbeaten at home in 2023/24, it was the visitors who admittedly made the brighter start, a curling effort from Katie Wilkinson forcing Demi Lambourne into a simple save in the opening minute.

      The Saints continued to press and, moments after Lambourne was forced to tip away Ella Morris’ cross – threatening to sneak into the top corner – an error at the back allowed Rianna Dean to square for Molly Pike to give the visitors a 15th-minute lead, despite the best efforts of Hayley Nolan on the line.

      Palace refused to have their spirits dampened, however, and equalised almost immediately afterwards when Lexi Potter – on her first professional start – won a free-kick deep into the Southampton half. Fliss Gibbons’ in-swinging delivery was inch-perfect and was planted, with a thunderous header, into the top corner by captain Everett.

      Yet Southampton came forwards again and retook the lead just five minutes later. Lucia Kendall’s shot inside the box took a deflection and bobbled up, with Dean volleying back into the box and full-back Morris – sneaking behind her defender – looping in a header which soared agonisingly beyond Lambourne’s reach.

      As the half wore on, Palace gradually grew in control of proceedings and saw plenty of possession, but it was the direct route which nearly led to them drawing level soon after: Araya Dennis chased down a long pass and won it off Paige Peake before squaring for Hughes, but the Wales international found herself crowded out inside the box.

      She was not to be denied however and, on the stroke of half-time, pounced to send the two teams in level.

      The goal stemmed from fine footwork from Dennis on the right flank, allowing Palace to pass swiftly from right-to-left and Gibbons to deliver a flat ball which Hughes side-footed home from six yards out – her 10th league goal of the season.

      An even scoreline was likely a fair reflection on an exciting end-to-end first-half, but Palace – attacking the Holmesdale Road end – started the second with the greater intent.

      Yet they were indebted to Lambourne moments after half-time when a long ball forwards was only half-dealt with and the Palace ‘keeper – having ventured beyond her penalty area – made an instinctive stop with her legs to deny Pike.

      On 55 minutes, Palace took the lead. Dennis, ever a threat from the right-hand side, produced another delightful piece of skill to turn Rosie Parnell and deliver a cross into the box – finding herself caught by the Saints’ skipper on the follow-through.

      With a penalty awarded, up stepped Hughes to fearlessly crash home a spot-kick high down the middle of the goal – a 12th strike in all competitions by the end of November.

      Now leading for the first time in the match, Palace took command of the ball as the pace of the game dropped and both managers turned to their benches for refreshed legs.

      It was Southampton who found an extra gear going into the final 20 minutes, however, winning a free-kick from which Lambourne tipped substitute Alice Griffiths’ header onto the crossbar.

      Palace unfortunately failed to clear their lines, however, allowing the Saints to recycle the ball and Dean – against her former club – to tuck in a loose ball from near the penalty spot amidst a sea of bodies.

      The Eagles came forwards once again and forced Southampton ‘keeper Kayla Rendell into a pair of saves from Dennis’ looping cross and Molly Sharpe’s follow-up effort.

      But a succession of late Southampton crosses eventually paid dividends for the visitors when Lexi Lloyd-Smith’s in-swinging cross was met by an admittedly impressive glancing header from Katie Wilkinson seven minutes from time, snatching all three points.

      Backed by a spirited crowd, Palace pressed for their third equaliser of the match, but could not find the breakthrough as Southampton ran down the clock, in turn ensuring the Eagles’ first home defeat of 2023/24.

      Southampton leapfrog Palace into third in the Championship but the standings remain incredibly tight; should the Eagles win their game-in-hand against Sheffield United, they themselves will go top of the table.

      Palace: Lambourne (GK), Reilly, Everett, Nolan, Gibbons, Arthur (Filbey, 66),  Hopcroft, Potter, Dennis (Bailey-Gayle, 87), Sharpe, Hughes

      Subs: Negri (GK), Johnson, Cataldo, Sibley, Guyatt

      Southampton: Rendell (GK), Peake, Purfield, Parnell, Mott, Morris, Kendall, Peplow (Primus, 69), Pike (Griffiths, 69), Dean (Lloyd-Smith, 80), Wilkinson (Kraft, 90)

      Subs: Howard (GK), Rafferty, Wynne, Milne, Pharoah