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      Report & Highlights: Impressive Palace beat Lewes on the road as title race nears conclusion

      Lewes Women
      Crystal Palace Women
      Hopcroft 25'
      Sharpe 50'

      With the Women’s Championship title race coming down to the wire, Crystal Palace Women beat Lewes 2-0 at the Dripping Pan in their final away game of the season, shoring up their position at the top of the table.


      • Kaminski names an unchanged side
      • Blanchard comes close with a free kick early on
      • Two strikes from Sharpe clear the crossbar
      • Claypole has the hosts’ first chance but her lob misses the target
      • Hamilton then fires wide
      • Palace take the lead after a stunning strike from Hopcroft
      • Blanchard hits the target but her effort is saved by Whitehouse
      • Sharpe’s shot tipped just over
      • Hand drags a shot wide in an end to an open first half
      • HT: Lewes 0-1 Palace
      • A composed finish from Sharpe makes it 2-0
      • Lambourne denies Riglar shortly after
      • Blanchard hits the target twice but both shots are held by Whitehouse
      • Sharpe leads the charge on the counter but sees her effort pushed behind
      • Blanchard’s strike flies wide
      • FT: Lewes 0-2 Palace
      Women's Highlights: Lewes 0-2 Crystal Palace

      In their penultimate fixture of the 2023/24 campaign, Crystal Palace Women visited Lewes at the Dripping Pan with title aspirations in mind.]

      The combination of Sunday's results mean that only a 22-goal swing on the final day – with Palace hosting Sunderland and Charlton hosting fourth-place Southampton – would deny Palace the title - so get down to Selhurst Park next Sunday to help Palace over the line!

      After picking up a crucial 1-0 win against Birmingham City last weekend, head coach Laura Laminski named an unchanged starting XI as her side began the afternoon knowing that it was possible to mathematically secure the Women’s Championship title on the day, should Palace win, and Sunderland and Charlton also draw.

      The Eagles started the brighter of the two teams and were rewarded with the first opportunity of the game less than five minutes in. Annabel Blanchard was fouled around 25 yards out and took the resulting free-kick – her strike was headed for the top left corner but was held by Lewes goalkeeper Sophie Whitehouse.

      Molly Sharpe posed problems for the home side’s defence all game long and twice came close in the first half, whipping a cross from that right flank that narrowly drifted over the crossbar before firing over from inside the box a couple of minutes later.

      The hosts struggled to break through the Palace defence in the opening period but had a sight of goal through Aimee Claypole 15 minutes in. The forward attempted to lob Eagles goalkeeper Demi Lambourne from outside the box but could not hit the target.

      Another chance followed as Caragh Hamilton advanced forward from the right-back position on the counter to drag an effort across goal and wide of the post.

      Despite the threat from the hosts, Palace took the lead in the 25th minute with a strike worthy of breaking any deadlock. Shanade Hopcroft picked up possession on the attack, flicked it over the head of a Lewes defender before crashing a half-volley from outside the box into the top corner.

      Kaminski was unfortunately forced into an early substitution shortly after, as Elise Hughes was withdrawn after suffering an injury earlier in the half.

      Blanchard called Whitehouse into action once again from the edge of the box, before Hughes’ replacement, Araya Dennis, headed just wide.

      The chances continued to flow as Sharpe almost scored a special half-volley of her own in first-half stoppage time, but saw her effort tipped over by Whitehouse.

      Jacqui Hand came close for Lewes just before the break but swept her low strike past Lambourne’s post.

      The Eagles carried their positive performance into the second half and quickly doubled their advantage 49 minutes in. Sharpe, having moved to striker after Hughes’ injury, latched on to a through ball, took a touch to get inside the box and cooly slotted past Whitehouse to grab a well-earned goal.

      The Rooks almost responded immediately through Grace Riglar, though Lambourne was well-placed to push her shot away.

      Palace showed no signs of letting up though and pushed for a third, with Blanchard forcing Whitehouse into action twice in quick succession.

      Sharpe almost had her second in the 72nd minute when she spearheaded an Eagles counter-attack but saw her effort parried behind for a corner.

      Blanchard once again came close but watched her effort flash just wide in a more settled second half that was not as open as the first.

      After Riglar’s early opportunity, the hosts struggled to create any more chances going forward as Palace’s defence held firm to make it back-to-back clean sheets and record a vital 2-0 victory on the road.

      A victory for Charlton Athletic elsewhere today meant that Kaminski’s side will return to the pitch next Sunday against Sunderland with the title firmly within reach and the opportunity to secure top spot in front of their home fans at Selhurst Park.

      Lewes: Whitehouse (GK), Hamilton (C), Hack, Garrad, Heuchan, Olding (Roche, 90), Hazard, Farrugia (Blades, HT), Hand (Grey, 66), Claypole (Brasero-Carreira, 76), Riglar.

      Subs not used: Moore (GK), Vassell, Palmer, Godfrey, Cleverly.

      Palace: Lambourne (GK), Percival (Reilly, 86), Everett (C), Nolan, Gibbons, Potter, Hopcroft (Guyatt, 86), Blanchard, Sharpe, Atkinson (Larkin, 70), Hughes (Dennis, 29).

      Subs not used: Negri (GK), Doran, Filbey, Arthur, Watson.