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Crystal Palace Development 1 Walton Casuals 1
The leading teams in the Greater London League Division One did battle at The Warren, home of Crystal Palace Development, and the hosts ended the 100 per cent record of visitors Walton Casuals after an excellent match ended 1-1.
Walton had won their first 12 matches after promotion from Division Two North to take a eleven point lead at the head of the table and the gap was maintained with Palace, also newly promoted from Division Two South, having a late goal ruled out.
It was Walton who started the better and they were soon in the lead when Rebecca Price got free on the right to slot home past Saskia Casary on five minutes. The same player nearly added a second soon after, then Megan Saunders fired into the side netting from a tight angle as the league leaders dominated early on.
Palace found their rhythm thereafter and started to move the ball neatly. Marlena Ballia created the first chance from the right wing, forcing a save from Stacey Bishopp on 21 minutes, then, from a Hope Mumford corner, Eleanor Hutchings headed against the bar.
Mumford had the best chance to level when sent clear on 37 minutes but, having rounded keeper Bishopp, she shot wide from a tight angle. Another fine Palace attack just before the break saw Maisy Wyer test Bishopp with a low shot well held but it was Casuals who led at half time.
The hosts were level soon after the restart when Rosa Tims lofted home a shot from the left which drifted in at the far post. Walton responded well and dominated much of the next period, creating several dangerous situations but the Palace defence was solid. The one moment of real danger came from a left wing corner, which Jodie Barker met with a header which drifted just wide.
At the other end, Mumford and Tims were always threatening and Palace went very close to taking the lead on two occasions late on. Firstly Mumford crossed for Tims to rattle the bar before the follow up was ruled out for offside on 78 minutes. Two minutes later, the same combination drew a fine fingertip save from Bishopp as the woodwork was struck for a third time by the hosts.
The contest remained fierce right to the last kick but the decisive goal never materialised. Both sides played with great energy and commitment to show why they are leading the way in Division One and have been hugely successful teams in the last eighteen months.
Crystal Palace Development: Saskia Kacary, Marlena Ballia, Lacey Spriggs, Lauren Singleton, Morgan Searle, Kadelia Wilkins, Tia Searle, Maisy Wyer, Eleanor Hutchings, Hope Mumford, Ellie Johnson. Subs: Rosa Tims, Stefania Paci, Aimee Ascott, Alice Wood.
Walton Casuals: Stacey Bishopp, Jodie Barker, Lauren Nicholson, Jodie Weller, Emily Bernard, Rebecca Price, Leah Knapp, Megan Saunders, Hollie Barnfield, Megan Vincer, Nicki Saunders. Subs: Molly Jones, Sophie Balaam, Holly Drage.
(Report by Patrick Higgins)
Photos by www.jamesprickett.co.uk:
(top) Nicki Saunders is challenged by Rosa Tims
(middle) Leah Knapp gets in a shot past Lauren Singleton
(bottom) Lauren Singleton in an aerial challenge with Megan Saunders
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