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Baptiste and McLean secure three more points for Eagles in 2-1 away win to Rovers

By Football Reporter

Crystal Palace extended their unbeaten run in the FA Women’s Championship to six games with a 2-1 win over Blackburn Rovers at the Sir Tom Finney Stadium.

Goals from Bianca Baptiste and Sophie McLean gave the visitors a two-goal lead, but a late goal from Annabel Blanchard made it a nerve-racking finish.

The win sees Palace move up to third place in the FA Women’s Championship.

Dean Davenport’s side had an excellent start to the game just four minutes in as Baptiste was on the end of a through ball and her shot came off goalkeeper Alex Brooks on its way in.

The visitors were almost gifted a second goal five minutes into the second half when Hannah Coan headed straight in the path of Millie Farrow but a last-ditch tackle from Jade Richards prevented her from pulling off a shot.

Palace hit Blackburn on the break in the 66th minute and Baptiste put in a good cross towards Farrow, who was free, but she was unable to get on the end of the cross.

Moments later Rovers goalkeeper Brooks did well to deny Annabel Johnson, tipping her volley over the bar.

Davenport’s side continued to apply the pressure and Brooks tipped Kirsty Barton’s strike over the bar in the 70th minute.

Palace doubled their lead nine minutes from time when a shot deflected off a Rovers defender’s hand and McLean advanced and smashed the ball past Brooks to essentially seal the win.

Rovers pulled a goal back in the 89th minute when Blanchard was through and buried the ball in the bottom-left corner but it was too little, too late to deny Palace.

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Crystal Palace manager Dean Davenport said: “I thought the first 45, it was quite scrappy, we couldn’t get into our stride quick enough like we wanted to.

“I thought both sides weren’t at it to be fair, I thought in the last 10 minutes of the first half we came alive. We started to link more centrally, I thought we started to create more chances although we didn’t finish them. It was a very good start, and last ten minutes of the first half.

“In the second half, I thought we started quite slow, don’t think there was much energy in the game but again once we got the second goal, which was what we needed, I think it was inevitable that we were going to go on and win the game to be fair.

On the incident: “I think it was a little bit of handbags, obviously I don’t want to say too much, I don’t want to be in trouble but I think if somebody potentially raises an arm then the referee has to deal with that in the appropriate way. Did he today? I’m not too sure but again it’ll be on the video so we can see for themselves.”

Blackburn Rovers manager Gemma Donnelly said: “I thought we did enough in the first half, maybe it took us time to find our feet but I thought we created enough chances.

“We were putting them everywhere but in the goal. I think it was just down to the final execution, we had bodies in the box, we had attempts on and off target, it’s just that final execution and technique to actually hit the target.

“We’ve tried to get something back right at the end, it’s cost us a goal, we’ve gone 2-0 down

and then we’ve managed to get one back on the 89th minute.

“With five minutes of added time, I thought we pushed them sufficiently and I feel pretty hard done by in fact to be walking off this pitch with no points today.”

Blackburn Rovers (4-2-3-1): Alex Brooks; Chloe Dixon, Hannah Coan, Jade Richards, Chelsey Jukes; Natasha Fenton, Millie Chandarana; Ellie Leek, Annabel Blanchard, Megan Hornby; Saffron Jordan.

Substitutes: Farah Crompton for Leek 62’, Chloe Williams for Chandarana 62’, Aimee Hodgson for Jordan 62, Lauren Thomas for Hornby 76’

Substitutes not used: Safia Middleton-Patel, Helen Seed, Kayleigh McDonald, Issy Dean, Mia Parry, Lauren Thomas.

Goals: Blanchard 89’

Bookings: Hornby 74’

Crystal Palace (3-3-3-1): Emily Orman; Gracie Pearse, Annabel Johnson, Lizzie Waldie; Kirsty Barton, Aimee Everett, Sophie McLean; Siobhan Wilson, Coral-Jade Haines, Bianca Baptiste; Millie Farrow.

Substitutes: Molly Sharpe for Baptiste 71', Charley Clifford for Haines 71’

Substitutes not used: Chloe Morgan, Leanne Cowan, Leigh Nicol, Grace Coombs, Hannah Churchill.

Goals: Baptiste 4’, McClean 81’

Bookings: Barton 74’, Johnson 75’

Referee: Savvas Yiann


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