BY ALEX WAITE
Bianca Baptiste scored or assisted all five goals as Crystal Palace produced a perfect display with a 5-0 victory over London Bees.
Baptiste and Coral-Jade Haines both scored twice in the first half before Kate Natkiel’s tap-in wrapped up a comprehensive FA Women’s Championship victory.
Both teams started brightly but Palace went closest early on, Kirsty Barton beat the Bees’ offside trap but Sarah Quantrill was on hand to deny the midfielder with a last-ditch interception.
The Bees responded well and had their first chance 20 minutes in when Lauren Pickett’s shot was parried by Chloe Morgan and Helen Ward followed up the block with a fierce effort from the edge of the area that smashed off the post.
But Baptiste opened the scoring for Palace minutes later as she weaved into the Bees’ penalty area and curled in a left-footed shot from 10 yards out straight into the bottom right corner.
Palace doubled their lead as Quantrill parried Baptiste’s strong shot straight to midfielder Haines, who made no mistake – tapping into an open goal from close range.
Baptiste added a quickfire third, latching on to Natkiel’s through ball and striking a low shot past Quantrill and into the bottom right corner from just inside the area.
Baptiste turned provider when she sent a high cross into the Bees area that Haines headered past Quantrill into the bottom left corner for Palace’s fourth on the half-hour mark.
Palace continued to dominate in the second half and Haines clipped the post with a long range effort on 55 minutes.
Palace added a fifth 10 minutes from time when they broke quickly on the counter attack and Baptiste found Natkiel inside the penalty area, she curled the ball past Quantrill.
Haines said: “We set out a game plan in training and we’ve been working on it all week and produced really good football this weekend.
“We wanted to play pressing football the whole season and it’s something the coaches have drilled into us all season and the fact we’ve been able to press and win the ball back high up the pitch today has especially paid off for us.
“We’ve been working hard in training every session and it’s all paid off and proven all the hard work in training.
“Bianca had three assists and two goals today, so the hard work shows. In training we’ve been linking up with each other and making sure we have surrounded bases around the player on the ball and that’s shown again and we really enjoy the playing style and it suits that players we’ve got.
“We create a lot of chances every week but today we’ve taken them.”
To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage visit womenscompetitions.thefa.com
PICTURES: KEITH GILLARD
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