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Baptiste inspires Eagles fightback to beat Lewes 3-1 at Hayes Lane

By Football Reporter

An inspired effort by substitute Bianca Baptiste ensured Crystal Palace’s comeback as they beat Lewes 3-1 at Hayes Lane.

Despite dominating the opening 45 minutes, the visitors only had Amelia Hazard’s smart finish to show for their efforts at the break.

Baptiste, introduced at the interval, levelled proceedings before teeing up Siobhan Wilson.

Tatiana Saunders was sent off in the third minute of added time, with Coral-Jade Haines stepping up to the spot to secure the three points and leapfrog the Eagles into third place in the FA Women’s Championship.

With Palace intent on playing out from the back at every opportunity, Craig Gill’s side pressed high - and got ample reward.

Hazard had two wonderful opportunities in quick succession, twice denied by Emily Orman, but the Palace keeper could do little for the opener.

Going away from goal, Hazard reversed quickly to smartly glide her finish across Orman and into the far corner.

Lewes kept coming forward, Lucy Ashworth-Clifford seeing her shot tipped over before Izzy Dalton fizzed an effort just over the bar.

The turning point, though, was Georgia Timms’ miss just after the hour; five yards out, but she could only shoot high into the stand.

Palace made them pay a minute later, Lizzie Waldie releasing Molly-Mae Sharpe who in turn fired in a wicked cross to the back post, Baptiste finishing with aplomb.

That changed the momentum. Sharpe was denied by a goal-line headed clearance from Ellie Mason after she’d rounded Tatiana Saunders and with Palace changing formation, the inevitable second arrived.

Baptiste used her low centre of gravity to get the wrong side of her defender, nipping in a low cross which was met by an outstanding finish from Wilson, who opened up her body intelligently to finish first time.

Haines dusted herself off after being clattered by Saunders late on – who saw red – to score from the spot to complete the turnaround in style.

To follow the action and sign up for The FA Player’s live Barclays FA Women’s Super League coverage, visit

Lewes interim manager, Craig Gill said: “We came out on the front foot as we do every week against teams, as that’s the way we play, and we took the game to Palace.

“We created a lot of chances and we went in a goal up at half-time but it could have been three or four quite frankly.

“But then we stopped doing the things that got us success and Palace were able to play through us more easily. We could have got the second before they equalised and if that happens, it’s a different game.

“You have to take your chances when they present themselves and we had some clear-cut ones. But we must learn quickly as we are inconsistent. That’s from game to game, and in games like you saw today. We need to put that right against Blackburn next week.

“We had some really strong performances today, like Ellie Mason who almost feels like a new signing even though she joined us in the summer; she’s been a revelation. That being said, we leave here bitterly disappointed and need to work hard this week.”

Crystal Palace manager Dean Davenport said: “Our first half performance was not up to the standard of recent months so we changed the shape at half-time, which was imperative.”

“We got the early goal, got the ball forward quicker and I thought we put Lewes on the back foot often, so it worked.

“We won’t change the way we play and the girls have to work things out for themselves, which they did today. Even though they pressed us well, we gave away a lot of balls and we’ll look at that in training, but we’ll never ask them to get away from having a go.

“The work before Bianca’s (Baptiste) goal was terrific. We moved the ball, popped it around and the ball from Molly (Sharpe) is great. Bianca scores goals, that’s what she does, but the build-up was just as good.

“We needed to bounce back after the Liverpool game when our standard wasn’t where it should be but we had a go then, and we’ve had a go today and it’s worked for us.”

Crystal Palace (3-4-3): Emily Orman; Gracie Pearse, Annabel Johnson (c), Lizzie Waldie; Leanne Cowan, Aimee Everett, Leigh Nicol, Siobhan Wilson; Kirsty Barton, Molly-Mae Sharpe, Sophie McLean

Substitutes: Bianca Baptiste for Nicol 46’, Alex Hennessy for Sharpe 76, Coral Haines for Barton 85’

Substitutes not used: Hope Smith (gk), Grace Coombs, Isabella Sibley, Charley Clifford, Hannah Churchill

Goals: Baptiste 62’, Wilson 71’, Haines 90+6’ (pen)

Bookings: Nicol 15’, Wilson 65’

Lewes (4-2-3-1): Tatiana Saunders; Rebecca McKenna, Nicola Cousins (c), Ellie Mason, Sophie O’Rourke; Zoe Cross, Izzy Dalton; Paula Howells, Amelia Hazard, Lucy Ashworth-Clifford; Georgia Timms

Substitutes: Heidi Logan for Howells 80’, Lucy Porter for Cross 80’, Rhian Cleverly for Dalton 81’, Shanell Salgado for Timms 90+5’

Substitutes not used: Ellie Noble, Lea Cordier, Josie Longhurst

Goals: Hazard 29’

Bookings: McKenna 73

Red card: Saunders 90+4’

Referee: James Bell

Attendance: 281


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