Not sticking to game plan cost Eagles all three points
Crystal Palace 0 Sunderland 2
By Football Reporter
Second-half goals from Emily Scarr and Katy Watson helped Sunderland secure their first league victory of the season with a 2-0 win against Crystal Palace at Hayes Lane.
Sunderland had the first chance when Neve Herron delivered a dangerous cross that was met by Abby Holmes, but her header struck the post.
Moments later, Crystal Palace defender Aimee Everett produced a vital interception to prevent another goalscoring opportunity.
Dean Davenport’s side had their first effort on target when Annabel Blanchard’s close-range effort went wide of the post.
Scarr then found Herron, whose left-footed shot forced Eagles goalkeeper Frances Kitching to produce a vital save.
Kitching was called into action once again three minutes later as she stopped Scarr’s effort from the edge of the box.
After the break, Kitching’s counterpart Claudia Moan made a string of important saves from Blanchard and Coral-Jade Haines to keep her team in the game.
Melanie Copeland’s side broke the deadlock in the 56th minute.
Herron’s initial effort was parried away by Kitching after some nice play down the left, but Scarr was on hand to convert the rebound.
With 18 minutes remaining, the Black Cats tried their luck again as Herron struck an effort from distance, but the ball was held by Kitching.
Palace gathered momentum as the game progressed, with Haines, Everett, Lizzie Waldie and Kirsty Barton all seeing efforts blocked by the Sunderland backline.
But in injury time, Sunderland launched a brilliant counter-attack.
Nicki Gears delivered an inch-perfect pass to Watson, who slotted the ball into an empty net after skipping around the keeper to secure the victory.
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Crystal Palace defender Aimee Everett said: "In the first half, we went away from our game plan a little bit. Came at half-time regrouped and went out in the second half by sticking to the game plan that we have been working on all week and goals could have come, but obviously when you throw everything at it, we step into a counter attack and unfortunately, that's what we done us today.
"The style of play we implement; a lot of teams will come, just sit in and bank up against us. That's why we just can't get frustrated and be patient with what we're doing and eventually chances will come - that's when we got to take it and sadly, we didn't take our chances today. Teams like Sunderland, when they get a goal, they are going to bank up and make it even harder for us - I think for us it would have been important to get the first goal and from there, we could have built on and eventually get two or three goals. We didn't take our chances, but Sunderland got two chances and took him.
"We lacked the concentration and desire to want to put the ball into the back of the net. Today's loss won't define our season and we've got plenty of games to go and pick up points. I think times like this we can't get too down and we've got to learn from it. There are lots of positives; there was some good play from us which we worked on training and showed it in the game today. Unfortunately, we didn't take our chances."
Sunderland manager Melanie Copeland said: “We were really good today and our defensive shape was excellent. Crystal Palace are a good team and we knew we had to be at our best today to come here and get some points. We had a game plan ahead of the game and I think we gave Palace too much space. we tweaked the game plan after 15 minutes and slid into a different formation. We eliminated the spaces they wanted to get into and ended up scoring the two goals to win the game.
“When you drop off and allow teams to have the ball, you can always counter-attack into the spaces they leave behind and we’ve got there a couple of times. We’ve had good one v ones which Neve Herron should have scored. Although, we didn’t much of the ball in the first half, the opportunities were there and could have gone ahead. To be fair, the players stuck with the plan and delighted with the three points.
“We were really disciplined from front to back - protecting the lead, one v one defending, bravery they’ve showed and putting their bodies on the line. That was a real squad effort today. The three substitutes that came on have abundance of pace and that’s what we wanted. That was part of our game plan to get them on after the 60-minute mark. They’ve came on and made a huge impact. Katy Watson score goals like that week in and week out for us in training and delighted that she got herself off the mark this season."