11 Oct Match Report: Coventry United 3-2 Crystal Palace
A surprisingly powerful sun for an October match provided ample warmth for a large travelling Eagles contingent and those out to support home side Coventry United on Sunday afternoon.
United were hoping to get their first win of the season as they started the match with just one point from a possible fifteen. Their opponents meanwhile, sat comfortably mid-table and would be hoping to consolidate this position.
Both sides saw early opportunities, but it was Palace who looked more threatening from the outset with Wilson looking dangerous on the left-hand side. A free-kick, won and delivered by Wilson in the seventh minute, seemed tantalisingly inviting but the resulting header was directed straight at the keeper.
It was against the run of play then that Coventry United scored the opener. Putting pressure on the Palace defensive line, Fergusson forced an error in the 12th minute that proved costly as she was able to take the ball from the feet of the defender at the edge of the box before finishing well.
This, however, did not deter a Crystal Palace side who continued to look the more dangerous of the two sides with United opting to soak up the pressure and play on the break.
As United centre-back, Naomi Hartley seemed to have a monopoly over all aerial balls the home side did well to weather many a storm. It looked as though they would hang on until half-time despite a shot from McLean rattling the crossbar in the 20th minute.
It was not to be, however. On the stroke of half-time, Barton latched onto the end of a through-ball and found themself in behind the Coventry defence. A composed finish past the United keeper rewarded the visitors for their dominance, making it 1-1 at half-time.
The second half continued in much the same vein with Crystal Palace sustaining their dominance.
This time, they saw dividends much sooner. A Palace corner resulted in a pinball-style scrap in the United box which eventually saw the ball fall to Sharpe who drilled it home to finally put the Eagles ahead in the 52nd minute.
The lead wasn’t to last. Taking umbrage at going a goal down, United again broke the run of play when an excellent cross from Fergusson placed the ball onto the head of Hardy who nodded home. The proximity of the shot left the flailing Palace keeper unable to make use of the hand she got to the ball. Yet again, the scores were level.
The match already couldn’t be found lacking in goals despite little assistance from the United keeper, Clark, who had already kept the Midlands team in it on multiple occasions. Another fine stop from them came in the 65th minute but it was parried into the path of Wilson.
Having threatened all game, Wilson made no mistake and deservedly got their goal to put the visitors ahead yet again.
The urgency to prevent another defeat combined with a tactical decision from Crystal Palace to sit on their lead saw Coventry kick into action in the last 10 minutes and take control for the first time in the game.
At one point centimetres away from a late equaliser as Palace struggled to clear a corner, ultimately this late surge was too little, too late for the hosts.
It was a hard earnt win for Crystal Palace but the scoreline perhaps flatters the hosts who never looked likely winners despite gaining an early lead. It leaves Coventry just one place from the foot of the table and still searching for their first win of the season.
Photo: Jeff Bennett