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Crystal Palace 3 C & K Basildon 2
Crystal Palace ended C & K Basildon's 100% record in the FAWPL South East Division One by claiming a 3-2 victory in a morning kick off at Bromley FC.
Palace were pegged back after taking an early lead but goals either side of the break gave them a margin which the visitors were unable to claw back, despite reducing the score with fifteen minutes left. A good quality, fiercely contested match opened up the league table and confirmed Palace's fine start since promotion from the London & South East Regional League and their move to the impressive facilities of the Fortress Stadium.
C & K showed plenty of early signs of why they are having another good season in League and Cup. Karissa Rodney outpaced two defenders before firing a shot across goal then Carly Eagles clipped the Palace post with a low effort. But the hosts were equally dangerous up front and took the lead on nine minutes with a well worked goal. Jade Davenport broke clear on the right and cut the ball back for Roschelle Shakes to sweep an instant low shot wide of Cherie Rowlands and into the bottom right corner of the net.
C & K drew level after a good Sam Saint save at her near post led to a corner. Defensive hesitancy allowed Hannah Porter time and space to finish from close range on 12 minutes and the visitors nearly added a second soon after but Sara Sinclair's effort was cleared off the line. Mary Onianwa set up a very good Palace chance after breaking free on the right but Shakes' header struck the upright.
Attacks continued to dominate as an entertaining half unfolded. Zoe Rushen struck the upright with a 20-yard C & K free kick whilst Rowlands made a fine save to her right as Shakes got clear on goal for Palace. Saint made another good save to deny Amy Nash but, just as it seemed the half would all square, Palace took the lead when a seemingly harmless long free kick led to a misunderstanding and a C & K player nodded the ball past her own keeper.
Palace grew in confidence and resolve after the break and gained a firmer grip on the talented and dangerous Basildon attack. Eagles forced a good save from Saint on 54 minutes but the better chances fell to Palace. Shakes brought out the best in Rowlands with a smart turn and snap shot from distance but there was nothing she could do when Onianwa released Shakes on 66 minutes for a fine finish.
With their unbeaten record in all matches under severe threat, C &K tried to rally but were often frustrated by a resolute Palace defence. The speedy home attackers always offered a willing outlet for any forward pass and Palace looked comfortable till Rodney produced a piece of left wing magic on 75 minutes. Beating two challenges, the winger produced a dangerous cross which was only half cleared for Kat Clifton to slide home.
It was Rodney again who provided the best chance for a late equaliser. Again a teasing cross evaded the Palace defence but Nash fired a first time effort over the bar on 86 minutes and the home team saw out time very effectively for a fine win in an encounter of high intensity and good team play on both sides.
C & K still lead the table but only by a single point from Milton Keynes Dons with Palace a further point behind after each club has played seven games and after the recalculation caused by the withdrawal of Ebbsfleet United.
Crystal Palace: Sam Saint, Charlotte Cavanagh, Grace Beegan, Katy Morris, Megan Carroll, Sarah Jones, Mary Onianwa, Stephanie Mann, Roschelle Shakes, Jade Davenport, Rinzola Babajide. Subs: Mercedes Bromfield, Becky Strutt, Alex Elson.
C & K Basildon: Cherie Rowlands, Merrick Will, Hannah Porter, Megan Lawler, Steph Stephanou, Carly Eagles, Zoe Rushen, Amy Nash, Kat Clifton, Sara Sinclair, Karissa Rodney. Subs: Lucy Wyatt, Nicola Carty, Chelsea Hinz, Roseanne Shafier.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Kathleen Clifton slides in to tackle Grace Beegan
(middle) Charlotte Kavanagh is taken on by Karissa Rodney
(bottom) Carly Eagles and Rinsola Babajide
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