Palace Ladies moved to within a point of the top three

Eagles are flying high at the top

Palace Ladies moved to within a point of the top three in the FA Women’s Premier League with a comfortable victory against Chichester City Ladies, featuring a fifth hat-trick of the season from Gemma Bryan.

There was a cagey opening to the match, which became an increasingly physical encounter. Palace were a threat when going forward, with Nikita Whinnet and Bryan working well off each other, well supported by the industry of Ellie Bailes and craft of Ciara Sherwood.

Bryan opened the scoring in the 20th minute, controlling a cross from Bailes and spinning away from her marker to dispatch the ball into the bottom corner.

Palace played with plenty of width, and Pam McRoberts was a regular supply line, but it was a more direct approach, which saw them double their lead 12 minutes later. An inch-perfect 30-yard diagonal through-ball from Steff Simmons on the halfway line found Whinnet on the left hand corner of the box and she instinctively controlled and fired the ball home on the half volley.

Palace tried to put the match beyond reach in the second half and the imperious Leesa Haydock and tenacious Whinnet both went close in the first 10 minutes.

Rosie Paye also went close, heading wide from a corner, and the Chichester goalkeeper then needed two attempts to deal with an audacious 40-yard volley.

Palace did not have it all their own way and it was the Eagles number one, Megen Lynch who saved well in the 64th minute, tipping a well struck effort on to the post. But Bryan added to her tally in the 71st minute. Fouled in the area, she got up and dusted herself down before sending the goalkeeper the wrong way.

Chichester refused to give in and in the 81st minute scored their only goal of the game through Cherelle Khassal who tapped in at the back post from a low cross that eluded the Palace defence.

However, it was Palace who scored the last goal of the game when Bryan was again upended, this time by the ‘keeper Wilson-Blakely. Bryan, again, coolly slotted home from 12 yards to round off her hat-trick.

Palace Ladies coach Dean Davenport said: “We played well. At times, we were subject to quite a physical approach, but to be honest, we are used to that now. It was good to see the players retain control and let their belief in their abilities and our planning guide them.”

  • Palace Ladies are away at Carshalton in the County Cup on Sunday.

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