Ramirez late strike puts lacklustre Chelsea into quarter-final of the FA cup at expense of hard-working, dogged Crystal Palace
By Paul Lagan at Kingsmeadow Stadium
GFA Cup 5th round
Chelsea 1 v Crystal Palace 0
Mayra Ramirez scored the only goal that put the Blues into the quarter-finals of the FA Cup at the expense of plucky Crystal Palace, but this was a forgettable day for the home side.
Palace however will have been delighted at the resilience and almost perfectly executed defensive game plan.
Chelsea laboured to break down the five at the back Palace – for most of the match.
Too many players overhit their shots thus preventing any serious combination play – Ramirez suffered the most.
It wasn't until nine minutes from the end, and with Palace for once, caught out on the right, did the Blues show any clinical endeavour.
Right back Ashley Lawrence found herself free on the right and put in a perfectly-paced ball into the Palace penalty area.
Up popped Ramirez who slotted coolly home.
That was the b est bit of a game that had eight minutes of added time, mostly for the numerous substitutions employed by Palace to keep the legs fresh on the pitch but also slow down the relentless attacking from the home side
Fran Kirby had the first pop at goal on five minutes. Her edge-of-area half-volley dipping right-footer was inches too high and landed on Demi Lambourne's top netting.
Predictably the Championship side opted for a defensive formation, a deep five-man defence , in the hope of frustrating the Blues.
While there was no signs of frustration, there were indications of overhitting the ball with Mayra Ramirez suffering the most as she simply was unable to get hold of the ball.
A classic Chelsea attack, build upon the left, whip in a cross and hope a striker is on the end of it occurred on 35 minutes. Ramirez was on the end of the ball, but her glancing header was just wide of goal.
There were no changes by either side at half-time.
Jess Carter had the first effort on goal
following the restart, but like Kirby in the first, her effort, this time a header looped on to the top netting.
Palace made a couple of changes on 57 minutes – on came Abbie Larkin and Annabel Blanchard – off went Isabella Sibley and Shanade Hopcroft.
Hayes had seen enough and decided to make a couple of changes on 61 minutes – off went Kirby and Rytting Kaneryd, on came crowd favourite Aggie Beever-Jones and Sjoeke Nusken.
Ramirez forced a fine save from Lambourne on 63 minutes as the Blues got closer to opening the score.
Ramirez then hit the crossbar before the Blues hit the back of the net on 75 minutes but the referee adjudged there was an offside.
A couple more subs by Palace saw Shauna Guyatt and Araya Dennis come on for on for Chloe Arthur and Molly-Mae Sharpe
Hayes responded by bringing off Guro Reiten and replacing her with Jelena Cankovic.
Then another Palace sub – off went Felicity Gibbons, on went Anna Filbey.
Within seconds of that – the Blues got a deserved lead and it was simplicity itself – Ashley Lawrence, wide on the left sent in a lo drive and Ramirez was on hand to slide the ball home.
A single goal is all that's required to win a cup tie, and so the Blues, for once not keen go open up the Palace defensive kept the ball for as long as possible and ran down the time.
Teams: Chelsea: Hampton, Carter, Leupolz, James, Reiten, Lawrence, Rytting Kaneryd, Charles, Cuthbert, Ramirez, Bjorn
Subs: Musovic, Ingle, Nusken, Kirby, Perisset, Hamano, Buchanan, Cankovic, Beever-Jones
Palace: Lambourne, Gibbons, Arthur, Everett, Sibley, Sharpe, Hughes, Reilly, Nolan, Percival, Hopcroft
Subs: Negri, Johnson, Filbey, Blanchard, Guyatt, Dennis, Larkin, Atkinson