U's draw with Palace to end visitors 100% record
Cambridge United Women earned a valuable point in the League as they entertained high flying Crystal Palace Ladies in the FAWPL South East Division One.
Palace arrived at Ely with a 100% record in the League after a triumphant seven wins from seven games and would have undoubtedly been looking for their eighth, but the U’s produced a solid display to secure an important draw on home soil.
The U’s were almost caught out early on in the game as Palace striker Roschelle Shakes found herself behind the defence, but Verity Crook was off her line quickly to narrow the angle and the forward’s finish was wide of the upright. United’s game plan to restrict the space in behind and keep the play in front of them was starting to pay off though as the Eagles struggled to break through and as a result, carved out very few chances on goal.
At the other end, it was a similar story as both defences seemed to be on top and whilst the U’s created some good openings, they failed to find the quality to unlock the visitor’s defence with either a final ball or a shot to test the Palace goalkeeper, with only Laura Baker’s shot from range the only chance for the U’s.
It was Palace who would go in at the half time break with a goal after they converted a neat header past Crook from a right wing cross, after the striker had nipped in front and made her run across the defence.
A re-grouped Cambridge side came out for the second half with more attacking intent, Laura Mills in particular leading the charge on United’s right hand side. It was Mills’ free kick into the box, that almost saw the U’s level, as debutant Paige Logie, got her head to the ball and bundled it over the line, only for the referee to disallow the goal for an infringement earlier in the play.
However, it was to be the same combination that drew the scores level. Mills went on a bright run and jinxed inside two Crystal Palace tackles, before threading a cute throughball into the area and for Logie, who poked the ball instinctively past the onrushing keeper and into the bottom corner.
The hard work didn’t stop and Baker again had a chance from just outside the box after some outstanding team pressing in Palace’s own third won the ball back for United.
Palace inevitably committed forward in the latter periods to try and continue their winning run but were met with both resolute defending and a defiant goalkeeper.
All in all, it was a hugely satisfying point for the U’s as they became the first team this season to take points off Crystal Palace and Manager Steve Edwards was proud of the display his team had put on.
“I am delighted with the performance the team delivered and particularly considering it was only a week after exiting the FA Cup, so to bounce back in this manner and get a result nobody would have expected before the game is a huge credit to the player’s resilience.
“We got everything right about our game plan today and in truth, we might even have stolen the points but for a soft free kick given to rule out our goal. Make no mistake about it, Palace are a great side and will take some stopping in the League this year, but I’m really pleased at the way the players took to the task and stood up to everything they threw at us.
“It was great to see new signing Paige Logie cap her debut off with a goal too, she had a tough task playing up front on her own and worked her socks off. This level of performance will see us get wins against other sides in the League and the challenge now has to be about how we can go about maintaining that level and producing it more consistently.”
LINE UP – Verity Crook, Emma Jenkins, Kayleigh Anne Burt, Laura Bright, Carrie Bennett, Laura Baker, Tahnee Perfect (sub Nicola Geoghan 61 mins), Faith Hewitt (sub Isabella Simmons 80 mins), Laura Mills, Becky Taylor, Paige Logie Subs not used – Robyn Phillips, Hannah Goodchild