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Match Report

Selhurst Park rocking as Crystal Palace win the Women’s Championship

Crystal Palace are crowned Champions of the Women's Championship in front of record home crowd

Gareth Taylor Man City_edited.jpg

Ryan Asman

28 April 2024

Heading into the game Lauren Kaminski’s side all but had their hands on the trophy, sitting at the top of the table, three points ahead and a goal difference of 22 over title chaser Charlton Athletic. Unless the Addicks could pull off an outrageous scoreline at the Valley, Palace would be crowned Champions and earn promotion to the Women’s Super League.

After a slight delay to kick of due to a few unruly balloons Annabel Blanchard got things underway. Palace had the brighter start to the half and this largely continued throughout the match.

The home side made excellent use of their wingers, optimising the pace Araya Dennis and Isibeal Atkinson (backed by fullbacks Ria Percival and Fliss Gibbons) to attack the wide areas. Palace also switched the ball from side to side with Annabel Blanchard and Shanade Hopcroft acting as pivots to quickly move the ball cross field and pull Sunderland from side to side.

This tactic from Palace allowed their stronger runners, Dennis, Atkinson, Molly Sharpe and later Shauna Guyatt to flood the central space that was left by disrupted Sunderland’s back four.

For Sunderland, this high press from the Eagles meant that they were pinned in their own half in certain phases. As the visitors found passing lanes somewhat restricted, their primary option to apply pressure the hosts were to apply pace in transition and look for balls over the top.

Sunderland did exactly this in 43rd minute which earned them the best chance of the first half. The ball was overturned in the final third where Palace had committed high numbers. Sunderland applied a counter attack in which Scarr was able to win the footrace against Gibbons and deliver a decent cross into the box. Ellen Jones met the ball and struck it on target but her strike lacked the conviction needed to beat Demi Lambourne.

The visitors applied more pressure during the second half and used the strength of Natasha Fenton and Jenna Deer to execute individual duels in the midfield. This meant Palace were forced to play a narrower game, and in defensive phases, invert an auxiliary player from either side to support holding midfielder Lexi Potter.

This made for a much more even half with both sides creating enough chances to convert, but neither managing to hit the back of the net. This was seen in examples when Gibbons’ shot was dragged wide in the 49th minute and when the visitors hit the crossbar in the 61st minute.  

As the fourth official held up a minimum of ten minutes additional time the 6796 strong crowd kicked their rousing support up a notch and Palace ended the match with a clear cut chance for Sharpe and as the side in control.

Despite the goalless draw, Selhurst Park was electric. On home turf and in front of a record crowd, the Eagles are going up.


Line Ups

Crystal Palace: Lambourne (GK), Percival, Everett (C), Nolan, Gibbons (88’), Potter (90+8’), Hopcroft (90+8’), Blanchard, Dennis (90+8’), Atkinson (58’), Sharpe

Substitutes: Negri (GK), Johnson, Doran, Reilly (88’), Filbey (90+8’), Arthur (90+8’), Guyatt (58’), Larkin, Watson (90+8’)


Sunderland: Moan (GK), Brown, Goddard, Westrup (C), Griffiths, Fenton, Dear, McInnes (74’), Watson (74’), Jones (74’), Scarr

Substitutes: Borthwick, Kitching (74’), Rouse, Ede, McCatty (90+8’), Ejupi (74’), McAteer (74’), Beer

Yellow: Jones, Deer, Griffiths

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