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Women’s football: Crystal Palace sign off home campaign with win over relegation-haunted Watford

Crystal Palace won 2-1 at home against Watford to ensure the visitors’ battle to avoid relegation from the FA Women’s Championship will go down to the final game.

Two first-half goals from Molly Sharpe kept up the Eagles’ strong league campaign in their last home game of the season, before Watford pulled one back late on through Gemma Davison.

Coventry United’s win means the relegation place will be decided in Watford’s match against the West Midlands side next Sunday.

Palace took the lead in the 19th minute as Sharpe’s left-footed shot from distance was caught by the wind, before hitting the bar and the keeper before bouncing into the net for a bizarre opener.

Sharpe’s second came in the 40th minute, the ball played long for the rapidly advancing forward to loft the ball over Watford goalkeeper Georgia Ferguson.

After the restart, Palace’s Millie Farrow hit the post from a counter-attack, while Watford had a goal ruled out just after the hour mark, when captain Helen Ward’s clever dink was ruled to be offside.

Crystal Palace should have made it three with 20 minutes to play, but Sharpe’s shot from the edge of the area went just wide of the far post.

Davison came on at half-time for Watford, and scored with 10 minutes to play, taking control in a scrappy penalty area to put the ball in the bottom right corner.

Siobhan Wilson for Palace hit the post with five minutes remaining as the hosts tried to regain their two-goal advantage.

A stoppage time Watford free kick was comfortably gathered by the keeper, to condemn them to their 14th loss of the season.

Palace manager Dean Davenport said: “I’m ecstatic. We played really well. First half, we were outstanding. We ran the ball centrally. They couldn’t cope with us at first. The second half levelled itself out a little bit. Still good to come away with the win. Last game of the season, it sends everyone home happy.

“It’s important we win for the fans. They’ve been by our side all season. It’s been a tough season, a long season. They’ve travelled away with us, so it’s nice to give them something back. The first half performance was a nice way to show them our appreciation.

“That’s the only disappointing side of today’s game, we could have scored more. Some of our play was quite outrageous at times, to be quite honest. There was something we did in training during the week, swapping players in different formation, to throw them off the scent. They played really well, and we were worthy of the win.”

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