FA Women’s Premier League: Crystal Palace 5-0 C&K Basildon
Palace Ladies bounced back from a below par performance last week as they hosted C&K Basildon in the FA Women’s Premier League on Sunday.
Having made the short trip to Beckenham Town Football Club, where Palace will play the remainder of their home games this season, the omens were good. This was not just based on the perfect weather, but also the immaculate playing conditions, on an award winning pitch.
Speaking before the game, manager Dean Davenport spoke of the day ahead:
‘As a group, we were all really disappointed with the performance last weekend. We know that we could have done better and that our high standards were not met. This week, we have worked hard on what is needed and the players have all reacted as we knew they would. Today, we have had to move home grounds, something that could always be unsettling for players. Having said that, as soon as they walked in and saw the quality of the pitch, any doubts were gone.’
True to his word, Palace hit the ground running and took the game to Basildon at an intensity that seemed hard for the visitors to manage in the early stages.
Working the ball with precision and fluidity resulted in an early corner for the hosts, which was swung in by Pammy McRoberts and met by Sarah Jones, who headed home from close range in the sixth minute.
The early goal served to further ease Palace into the game, which they took to Basildon with a ruthless display of team work and high press football. Palace made the pressure count and doubled their lead on ten minutes, when a shot by Ellie Bailes was partially cleared by the goalkeeper, only as far as Mary Robinson who coolly headed home.
Four minutes later, Palace were three up. Leading scorer Gemma Bryan cut in from the left and confidently scored past the Basildon goalkeeper to complete a blistering opening fifteen minutes.
With the heat of the day, a number of injury breaks and Basildon working hard to limit the damage, the game was slowed considerably and despite a number of opportunities for Palace to add to the tally, none were forthcoming before half time. With the Eagles keeper, Yardley rarely called into action, Palace were good value for their lead.
Palace, urged to maintain high levels of game management by Davenport, took to their task well and controlled long periods of the half. With some fine saves from the Basildon number one, notably from Bryan, and a couple of strikes against the goal frame, the patience for a fourth was tested. This was until Bryan was played in on the left, outpaced the full back and centre back and fired home from a tight angle with a little over ten minutes remaining.
The final ten minutes saw a resilient Basildon seek a consolation with a couple of opportunities created in and around the Palace box. One such effort hit the bar, but nonetheless did not damage the hosts clean sheet.
The game was wrapped up in the dying minutes when another fine Palace move resulted in substitute Alma Donohoe creating space on the left and placing a pinpoint cross into the box. The waiting Bryan controlled the ball and slammed home into the roof of the net for a well earned hat-trick and impressive win for the Eagles.
Speaking after the game, Dean Davenport spoke of his pride in the performance:
‘To be honest, the girls did not need us to tell them how to react. They were as disappointed as any last week. The way in which they went about things today was an inspiration. They understood what was needed, not just in performance but tactically and delivered it with style. The start was perfect and every member of the squad played their part. Gemma will no doubt, deservedly, get the headlines for another hat-trick, but this was about all of them and to a player, they were top drawer.’
Davenport was also keen to add:
‘It was also very good today, to see one of our youngsters coming up through the ranks, with young Darcey Charlesworth making her debut. This is something that as a club we are very proud of, as we work hard to generate the players of our future. All of this at Beckenham Town who have been very welcoming and provided a fantastic pitch for our remaining games. All in all, a very good day.’