Goals from Bianca Baptiste and Sophie McClean helped Crystal Palace to a hard-fought 2-1 victory over Blackburn Rovers at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium this afternoon.
Despite a late goal from Rovers’ Annabel Blanchard, Dean Davenport’s side hung on for a victory and extended their unbeaten run to six games.
Palace took an early lead when Chelsey Jukes was caught out by a through ball which allowed Baptiste to surge forward and fire her effort beyond home keeper Alex Brooks and into the net.
It could have been two soon after when Millie Farrow dazzled the Rovers defence as she twisted and turned but she could only drill her shot into the side-netting. Siobhan Wilson then tested Brooks from a free-kick but her curling effort produced an easy catch from the keeper.
For the remainder of the half, Palace looked very comfortable and they restricted the hosts to shots from outside the box which didn’t really test Emily Orman.
Davenport’s side continued to be in control in the second half. Farrow again troubled the Rovers back-line but a late tackle from Jade Richards denied her before Megan Hornby forced an easy save from Orman at the other end.
The visitors began to step it up a gear after that and a cross in from the left found Baptiste free in the box but her effort was weak failed to significantly trouble Brooks.
The Rovers keeper impressed throughout and was keeping her side in the game. She made a key save from Annabel Johnson’s volley following a free-kick, tipping over a fierce drive, before Brooks also saved well from a Kirsty Barton strike.
Palace doubled their lead nine minutes from time when a through ball landed at the feet of McLean who hammered her effort beyond Brooks to all-but-seal victory for The Eagles.
Rovers did hit back and after missing a big chance a few minutes prior, Blanchard converted from a tight angle to give Gemma Donnelly’s side late hope.
Despite this, Palace hung on for the win which takes The Eagles up to third in the FA Women’s Championship table, five points off leaders Liverpool. Rovers still sit 10th with five points separating them and the bottom side Watford.
By Matthew Ward