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Crystal palace

      Report & Highlights: Palace Women bounce back with brilliant win at Southampton

      Southampton F.C. Women
      Kendall 76'
      Crystal Palace Women
      Atkinson 22'
      Hughes 45+4'

      Crystal Palace moved up to third in the Women’s Championship as they returned to winning ways with an impressive 2-1 victory against Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium.


      • Percival makes first Palace start at St Mary’s
      • Palace start well with early efforts from Hopcroft and Blanchard
      • Atkinson nets first Palace goal moments later with pinpoint low finish
      • Gibbons and Lambourne repel Saints attacks
      • Lambourne saves from Pharoah as half-time approaches
      • Hughes doubles Palace lead on stroke of half-time after Percival hits post
      • HT: Southampton 0-2 Palace
      • Palace defend resolutely as Saints press for route back into the match
      • Kendall hits the bar for the hosts
      • Southampton pull one back with 15 minutes remaining as Kendall pokes home free-kick
      • Primus misses double chance with three minutes to go
      • Late pressure from the hosts but Palace hold firm
      • FT: Southampton 1-2 Palace
        Women's Highlights: Southampton 1-2  Crystal Palace

      When the two teams had met in November at Selhurst Park in front of a record crowd for Palace, a high-scoring contest ensued – but both teams’ matches had been decided by finer margins of late, with the Eagles coming off the back of a narrow home loss to Charlton.

      The only change to Laura Kaminski’s starting XI from that contest saw Ria Percival, the highly experienced New Zealand international who arrived on loan in January from Tottenham Hotspur, make her first start in red and blue.

      It was Percival, charging forwards from right-back, who set up the first opportunity of the game inside five minutes, her clipped cross finding new signing Izzy Atkinson at the back post; the Republic of Ireland international’s first-time effort might have been bouncing wide, but was still cleared on its trajectory by Southampton’s Paige Peake.

      Palace’s impressive start continued as they dominated the early possession and territory at St Mary’s, Shanade Hopcroft the next player to threaten from distance, moments before Annabel Blanchard’s snap-shot inside the box tested Kayla Rendell’s reflexes.

      The breakthrough arrived on 22 minutes when Lexi Potter cut out a ball in midfield and, with the ball reaching Atkinson via Molly Sharpe and Blanchard, the winger dribbled past her marker on her left foot, and arrowed in the most accurate of low finishes across the ‘keeper.

      It was just reward for Palace and capped a fine start to Atkinson’s Palace career, after the 22-year-old had caught the eye on her debut against the Addicks last weekend.

      The hosts did respond with several set-pieces, but goalkeeper Demi Lambourne’s handling in the Palace goal was assured, and Aimee Everett’s, Elise Hughes’ and Sharpe’s defensive headers commanding.

      Just as it appeared that chances were beginning to dry up as half-time approached, some more good footwork from Atkinson saw her create space on the edge of the area – but Rendell was equally to her low strike.

      In the opening seconds of injury-time, Southampton’s first clear opportunity, as a mis-kick from Lambourne saw the ball land at the feet of Katie Wilkinson, who slipped in Sophia Pharoah. The Southampton attacker through on goal, Lambourne atoned for her error immediately, charging down the forward’s effort and claiming impressively.

      They would rue that miss as Palace doubled their advantage just moments later; Percival cut out a pass on the halfway line, charged forwards, exchanged passes with Hughes and hit the base of the post with her initial effort.

      Hughes had followed-up, and gleefully tapped home the rebound into an unguarded net for her 14th goal in as many Championship games this season.

      The goal drew the string out of the contest, and set the tone for a second-half of impressive control and maturity from Palace.

      With Pharoah probing in particular for the Saints, Palace’s defenders held firm to deny the hosts much of a sight at goal; Percival, Evertt, Hayley Nolan and Fliss Gibbons shut the door time and time again.

      This was perhaps best typified after 63 minutes when the ball twice fell for Jamaica international Atlanta Primus to strike inside the box, but Nolan and Gibbons threw themselves in the way of the ball to prevent her from getting a clean shot away.

      Southampton did make more headway in the closing stages; Lucia Kendall’s mis-hit cross sailed over Lambourne’s head and hit the top of the bar on 73 minutes, and then won a free-kick as Palace looked to scramble clear.

      Peake’s delivery was placed perfectly between defensive line and goalkeeper, allowing Kendall to sneak in and divert home with an outstretched boot.

      The hosts continued the aerial barrage for the remainder of the game, coming closest with four minutes remaining when Primus’ near-post flick was first deflected away by Nolan, before her follow-up slammed against the side-netting.

      But for sheer resilience alone, Palace were full value for the points which the referee’s whistle soon confirmed.

      With Charlton drawing against Lewes, the Eagles are now once more just three points off the top of the table with a game in hand – and a considerably stronger goal difference to boot.

      Palace: Lambourne (GK), Percival, Everett, Nolan, Gibbons, Potter (Arthur, 83), Hopcroft (Filbey, 82), Blanchard (Guyatt, 77), Sharpe (Dennis, 66), Hughes, Atkinson

      Subs not used: Negri (GK), Reilly, Sibley, Watson, Larkin

      Southampton: Rendell (GK), Peake, Rafferty, Mott, Purfield, Wilkinson (Wynne, 86), Pharoah (Lloyd-Smith, 70), Pike, Kendall, Collett, Primus

      Subs not used: Howard (GK), Kraft, Haaland, Nohasiarisoa, Milne