• By football reporter

Eagles win five-goal thriller 3-2 away against Coventry


By Football Reporter


Coventry United 2 v Crystal Palace 3


Crystal Palace secured their first away win for 10 months with a thrilling 3-2 win away at Coventry United.

Liv Fergusson gave United a deserved lead before Palace equalised on half-time through Sophie McLean.

Palace then took hold of the game scoring either side of an impressive Rio Hardy diving header through Molly-Mae Sharpe and Siobhan Marie Wilson.

The hosts started brighter with Hardy testing the Palace defence twice inside the first five minutes.

United’s strong start paid off on 12 minutes when Fergusson pickpocketed the Eagles’ defence on the edge of their area and fired low into the bottom corner.

Palace rallied with Sophie McLean rattling the crossbar on 20 minutes but the equaliser took until the cusp of half-time.

A delightful, scooped pass from Coral-Jade Haines played in McLean who drilled the ball beyond Olivia Clark from close range.

Palace, buoyed by their stoppage time equaliser, had the momentum and took the lead on 53 minutes.

Sharpe was quickest to react to a poorly cleared corner and struck a sweet volley that gave Clark no chance.

Yet United responded instantly as Nat Johnson floated a cross in from deep and Hardy met it with a spectacular diving header.

The game swung back in the favour of Palace on 64 minutes as Mille Farrow broke into the box and shot, with Siobhan Wilson firing in the rebound off the post.

United battled for another equaliser and struck the crossbar in the dying seconds of the game through Katie Wilkinson but their luck was out.

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Kirsty Barton, Crystal Palace midfielder: “We were really pushing at the end of the first half and we felt like the goal was coming because we’d had quite a few opportunities.

“I just played the ball out wide and decided to continue my run and Coral put a beautiful ball through, I just had to do the simple thing and slot it in.

“I’m really pleased to get the goal and get the three points.

“I think getting that goal at half-time really helped us and gave us that drive to come out in the second half. We knew that we could get something out of the game so that helped us to get a bit of belief and momentum.

“We had a lot of possession in the second half and quite a few opportunities so if we’d buried them then who knows what the score could’ve been. It’s a really positive performance that we can take a lot from.”

Jay Bradford, Coventry United manager: “It was a strong start but nothing else. We were well in the match, but we let ourselves down by letting our quality dip, not finding the basic passes that we need to stay in games and win games.

“The goal changes my half time team talk massively, but it shows if you switch off for a single second in this league, you’ll get punished.

“We were a minute out from half-time, winning 1-0, everybody fell to sleep and the game changed. From that moment we didn’t really look like waking up again.

“Rio’s finish was great but if you put it into the bigger picture, it means nothing again today.

“Seeing her score today is great but if it’s not winning us games it’s not enough, not just from her I thought she took her finish well, but we’re not in games for long enough periods to win them at the moment.”

Coventry United: (3-5-2): Olivia Clark; Alanah Mann, Naomi Hartley, Nat Johnson, Fran Orthodoxou, Destiney Toussaint, Mollie Green, Charlie Estcourt, Olivia Fergusson, Katie Wilkinson, Rio Hardy. Substitutes: Katy Morris for Green 57, Phoebe Warner for Estcourt 75 Substitutes not used: Holly Chandler, Hayley Crackle, Jodie Whiteman. Goals: Fergusson 12, Hardy 56 Bookings: Johnson 54

Red cards: None

Crystal Palace: (4-3-3): Emily Orman, Annabel Johnson, Gracie Pearse, Lizzie Waldie, Aimee Everett, Kirsty Barton, Sophie McLean, Coral-Jade Haines, Bianca Baptiste, Siobhan Wilson, Molly-Mae Sharpe.

Substitutes: Millie Farrow for Sharpe 60, Leanne Cowan for Wilson 80, Leigh Nicol for Haines 80

Substitutes not used: Grace Coombs, Hannah Churchill, Chloe Morgan.

Goals: McLean 46, Sharpe 53, Wilson 64 Bookings: None Red cards: None