BY PETER TRIFUNOVIC
Crystal Palace secured their first away win for 10 months in the FA Women’s Championship with a thrilling 3-2 success at Coventry United.
Liv Fergusson gave United a deserved lead before Palace equalised on half-time through Sophie McLean.
Palace then took hold of the game, scoring either side of an impressive Rio Hardy diving header through Molly-Mae Sharpe and Siobhan Marie Wilson.
The hosts started brighter with Hardy testing the Palace defence twice inside the first five minutes.
United’s strong start paid off on 12 minutes when Fergusson pickpocketed the Eagles defence on the edge of their area and fired low into the bottom corner.
Palace rallied with Sophie McLean rattling the crossbar on 20 minutes but the equaliser took until the cusp of half-time.
A delightful, scooped pass from Coral-Jade Haines played in Kirsty Barton, who drilled the ball beyond Olivia Clark from close range.
Palace, buoyed by their stoppage time equaliser, had the momentum and took the lead on 53 minutes.
Sharpe was quickest to react to a poorly cleared corner and struck a sweet volley that gave Clark no chance.
Yet United responded instantly as Nat Johnson floated a cross in from deep and Hardy met it with a spectacular diving header.
The game swung back in the favour of Palace on 64 minutes as Mille Farrow broke into the box and shot, with Siobhan Wilson (pictured top) firing in the rebound off the post.
United battled for another equaliser and struck the crossbar in the dying seconds of the game through Katie Wilkinson but their luck was out.
Barton said: “We were really pushing at the end of the first half and we felt like the goal was coming because we’d had quite a few opportunities. I just played the ball out wide and decided to continue my run and Coral put a beautiful ball through, I just had to do the simple thing and slot it in.
“I’m really pleased to get the goal and get the three points. I think getting that goal at half-time really helped us and gave us that drive to come out in the second half. We knew that we could get something out of the game so that helped us to get a bit of belief and momentum.
“We had a lot of possession in the second half and quite a few opportunities so if we’d buried them then who knows what the score could’ve been. It’s a really positive performance that we can take a lot from.”
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PICTURE: KEITH GILLARD
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