Skip navigation
Crystal palace

      Report: Palace win Women's Championship crown at Selhurst Park

      Crystal Palace Women
      Sunderland Women

      Crystal Palace Women won the 2023/24 Women’s Championship title with a draw against Sunderland in front of a club-record crowd at Selhurst Park.


      • Palace go into historic final-day needing a point to seal Championship title & promotion
      • Sharpe sees effort blocked from close range
      • Forward then turns over Blanchard’s low cross under pressure
      • Hopcroft almost catches out ‘keeper straight from a corner
      • Nolan blocks from Goddard inside the box
      • Dennis tests Moan with rising drive from range
      • Sharpe heads over from corner as Palace finish first-half strongly
      • Lambourne makes fine save from Jones at the end of the half
      • HT: Palace 0-0 Sunderland
      • Gibbons drags effort wide early in the second-half
      • Atkinson hits the outside of the post as Palace push for breakthrough
      • Dear strikes the bar from distance for Sunderland
      • Watson pulls strike over the bar as visitors respond
      • Westrup heads past Lambourne – but also the far post – as visitors pile on pressure
      • Dear slides effort wide of the mark late on
      • Sharpe volleys wide for Palace deep into injury time
      • Palace seal Championship-winning point
      • FT: Palace 0-0 Sunderland

      Some 6,796 – the third Palace Women’s record crowd of the season – purchased tickets for the final-day fixture which, with Palace going into the game with a lead of three points and a 22-stronger goal difference over second-placed Charlton, promised to be a celebratory occasion in SE25.

      The Eagles’ final-day opposition, Sunderland, went into the match with the second-best defence in the division, and with Palace also possessing the fourth-best, openings in the opening stages of the game proved hard to come by.

      The first opportunity did, however, go Palace’s way. Following some fine footwork by Annabel Blanchard on the left wing to win a corner, Shanade Hopcroft delivered and Molly Sharpe – sneaking in at the back post – saw her close-range volley charged down by a Sunderland shirt.

      With Sunderland continuing to defend stoutly as the half wore on, threat from wide areas was proving Palace’s most profitable route to goal.

      And after deliveries from Araya Dennis and Fliss Gibbons had put Sunderland defenders on their toes several times in the opening quarter of an hour, another chance arrived for Sharpe from the imagination of Blanchard.

      Once again, it was brilliant footwork from the No. 10 to weave her way past several challenges and – on her weaker right foot this time – dig out a cross from the byline, but on this occasion, Sharpe – sprinting onto it – turned her effort over the bar under pressure from an onrushing defender.

      The first real save for Sunderland goalkeeper Claudia Moan came after 22 minutes when Hopcroft’s threatening corner kick threatened to creep straight in at the near post; the Black Cats’ stopper reacted sharply to claw it away with one hand.

      It wasn’t until near the half-hour mark that Sunderland themselves posed a threat as a free-kick was pumped into the box from a deep position; falling nicely for centre-back Amy Goddard, she volleyed goalwards but Hayley Nolan bravely charged it down for Palace, allowing Demi Lambourne to claim it with relative ease.

      Moments later, some fantastic interplay 30 yards goal saw a give-and-go between Dennis and Sharpe, the former racing onto the return and firing a rising effort across goal – but Moan got two hands on it to turn it over the bar.

      Set-pieces were continuing to provide the majority of both teams’ threat, however, and Palace were next to go close when Sharpe – again under severe pressure – stooped to meet Gibbons’ corner, but directed her header over the bar.

      Then, on the stroke of half-time, the best opportunity of the half – and it went Sunderland’s way, as Katy Watson found space on the right flank to deliver a hanging cross which was side-footed goalwards by the unmarked Ellen Jones.

      The shot was well struck and forced Lambourne to stick out an instinctive boot, before Lexi Potter and Ria Percival – between them – prevented the Sunderland forward from putting away the rebound.

      Where the first-half was a more cagey contest, the second-half opened up, with Palace threatening shortly after the restart when Gibbons carried the ball forwards and – from 25 yards out – pulled a low effort across goal.

      The opener nearly arrived moments later in bizarre fashion when Atkinson swung in a high cross from out wide which soared over Moan’s head – and clipped the outside of the post on its way out of play.

      Soon after, Sunderland struck the woodwork themselves – Jenna Dear’s brilliant effort from 30 yards out clattering the crossbar and bouncing clear.

      And they ought to have taken the lead just moments later when good work from Emily Scarr released Katy Watson inside the box – but with just Lambourne to beat, the Sunderland forward smashed her effort over the bar.

      The visitors continued to create, a high free-kick delivery seeing Briana Westrup loop her header over Lambourne – but also wide of the mark.

      Sunderland were admittedly applying greater pressure, but Palace did threaten numerous occasions on the counter, Dennis’ pace leading a looping cross which Sharpe wasn’t far from getting on the end of at the far post.

      With five minutes remaining, Dear slid onto a cross from Liz Ejupi – but diverted her effort wide when she perhaps should have scored.

      Moments later, another club-record for ticket sales was announced – the third time that has happened this season – with 6,796 sold for the day.

      An additional 10 minutes were added on at the end of the game, giving plenty of time for the huge crowd to celebrate as the contest wound down.

      There was even to be one final chance as Dennis' fine pinpoint delivery picked out Sharpe at the far post - but she could not direct her effort on target.

      No matter, as a 0-0 draw still saw Palace mathematically confirm their league title victory.

      The day, the occasion, the Championship title – and with it, promotion to the 2024/25 Barclays Women’s Super League – belonged to Crystal Palace.

      What a moment. What a season.

      Palace: Lambourne (GK), Percival, Everett, Nolan, Gibbons (Reilly, 89), Potter (Filbey, 90+9), Hopcroft, Blanchard, Dennis (Watson, 90+9), Atkinson (Guyatt, 58), Sharpe.

      Subs: Negri (GK), Johnson, Doran, Arthur, Larkin.

      Sunderland: Moan (GK), Brown, Goddard, Westrup (McCatty, 90+9), Griffiths, Fenton, Dear, McInnes (Kitching, 74), Watson (McAteer, 74), Jones (Ejupi, 74), Scarr.

      Subs: Borthwick (GK), Rouse, Ede, Beer.