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Match Report

Fans come out in droves to applaud fantastic Lewes as they are relegated from the Championship

Lewes are relegated from the Championship as Crystal Palace are one step away from promotion

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James Boyes

22 April 2024

Crystal Palace are on the verge of claiming the Women’s Championship title after their 2-0 win over Lewes at The Dripping Pan on Sunday whilst the defeat sees The Rooks relegated to the FA Women’s National League for next season.

Shanade Hopcroft and Molly-Mae Sharpe scored the goals for the Eagles meaning all Laura Kaminski’s side need is a point to mathematically win the league on the final day of the season next weekend or avoid a big swing in goal difference if they lose and Charlton Athletic win.

There was a good atmosphere on a cool afternoon with the Lewes fans behind one goal with their band and the Palace fans and their flags at the other.  The attendance of 2,614 was The Rooks biggest ever league attendance at the Pan.

Scott Booth’s side lined up with five across the back with the wing backs getting forward and Hazard dropping back to cover in defence.

The Eagles were playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Hughes up top and Blanchard behind her with Hopcroft also getting forward from midfield to support the attack.

Annabel Blanchard had the first opportunity for the visitors but her dipping free kick from 25-yards was caught by Sophie Whitehouse.  Their next chance came two minutes later when Elise Hughes’ shot on the turn was saved. 

Sharpe’s deep cross from the right was claimed by Whitehouse in the 9th minute, then seconds later another of her crosses landed on the roof of the net.

Then in the 14th minute, Sharpe controlled the ball in the area but sent an shot over.

The home sides first chance came shortly after when Aimee Claypole was played in but sent her lobbed effort from outside the area over both the goalkeeper and crossbar. 

In the 23rd minute, a nice attack from the hosts finished with Caragh Hamilton putting a shot wide.

Hopcroft gave Crystal Palace the lead in spectacular style in the 25th minute when she controlled the ball then sent a dipping and swerving half volley from 25-yards over Whitehouse and into the back of the net.

The visitors had to make a substitution in the 29th minute when Hughes had to go off injured with Araya Dennis coming on to replace her.  The Welsh international later reappeared during the second half on crutches. This change saw Sharpe go up front with Dennis on the right side.

A dangerous low cross from Palace was turned over their own crossbar by a Rooks defender.  Blanchard then had a shot from outside the area in the 34th minute that was easily claimed by the Lewes goalkeeper.

An Eagles free kick was headed just wide by Dennis coming in at the far post in the final minute of the first half.

In the second minute of additional time, a long Palace ball forward found Sharpe whose delightful lob was brilliantly tipped over by Whitehouse.

Jacqui Hand had a good chance to equalise for The Rooks deep into stoppage time but dragged her shot wide of the post.

Lewes’ half time substitute Reanna Blades had the first chance of the second half but her effort was deflected and looped into the hands of Demi Lambourne.

Sharpe doubled the visitors lead in the 50th minute when she got onto Blanchard’s flick on after Lexi Potter’s long through ball and finished low past Whitehouse.

Two minutes after going two behind and straight from the restart, Lewes’ Grace Riglar forced Lambourne into a good save.

Blanchard turned in the area but sent her shot straight at Whitehouse in 57th minute as the Eagles looked to increase their lead further.

Dennis went on a strong run down the right side but she sent her cross into the hands of the Rooks goalkeeper. 

With 15 minutes left, Felicity Gibbons free kick from distance bounced through the penalty area with none of her Palace teammates unable to get a decisive touch on the ball.

Sharpe was denied by Whitehouse in the 77th minute after a quick attack from the visitors.  Blanchard found some space in the area but sent her shot wide three minutes later.

Amelia Hazard sent an effort over for the hosts as eight additional minutes were announced. 

During stoppage time, Hamilton’s fierce shot was blocked for the home side before the ball was cleared. 

These turned out to be the final chances of the match as the final whistle was blown shortly after confirming The Rooks relegation. 

The Crystal Palace players celebrated with their fans at the end of the match, and it is very much in their hands going into the final game of the season as they are three points ahead of Charlton with a much better goal difference.  They take on Sunderland at Selhurst Park next Sunday whilst the Addicks are at home to Southampton at The Valley.



Lewes (5-3-2): Whitehouse, Hamilton (c), Hack, Olding (Roche 90’), Garrad, Heuchan, Hazard, Farrugia (Blades 46’), Hand (Grey 66’), Claypole (Brasero-Carreira 76’), Riglar

Unused substitutes: Moore, Cleverly, Godfrey, Palmer

Booked – Hamilton, Hazard, Grey


Crystal Palace (4-2-3-1): Lambourne, Percival (Reilly 87’), Everett (c), Nolan, Gibbons, Potter, Hopcroft (Guyatt 87’), Sharpe, Blanchard, Atkinson (Larkin 69’), Hughes (Dennis 29’)

Unused substitutes: Negri, Doran, Filbey, Arthur, Watson,

Goals – Hopcroft 25’, Sharpe 50’

Booked – Atkinson, Sharpe, Dennis


Referee – Lauren Impey

Attendance – 2,614

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