The first game of the new year saw a fiery affair at Hayes Lane, but unfortunately for Chris Phillips’ side, it was to end in defeat.
The game saw the Lionesses start at a high tempo and put the pressure on the hosts, with Lucy Fitzgerald in particular challenging well on the touchline, but it was Crystal Palace who took the lead in the 6th minute when a cross from the left-hand side was hooked in well by Chloe Burr and nestled into the back of Chloe Sansom’s goal.
Ten minutes later the Lionesses had a chance of their own when Gabby Ravenscroft was brought down in the 16th minute. Michelle Young floated in the resulting free-kick and Ylenia Priest rose well to meet the set piece, but her effort was headed into the arms of Shanell Salgado.
Millwall continued to keep the Eagles on their toes when Gabby Ravenscroft and Michelle Young had long range efforts in the 20th and 22nd minutes, before Hannah MacKenzie was shown a yellow card for a late challenge on Evie Clarke.
In the 30th minute Gabby Ravenscroft came close to equalising for the Lionesses when she had another long-range effort, but Salgado did superbly to tip the ball over for a corner.
In the 38th minute it was Lucy Fiztgerald who went into the referee’s book for a foul on Salgado. A free-kick was launched into the box from inside the Palace half by Leanne Cowan and although Fitzgerald committed well, she was adjudged to have fouled the Crystal Palace number one and a yellow card was shown.
A lengthy spell of injury time was added after Salgado was down receiving treatment and Ellie Stenning also received attention from the Millwall medical team and after nine minutes were added, the hosts went in at half time 1-0 up.
The second half started with a surprising change as Chloe Burr took the place of Salgado in the Palace goal due to the Eagles not having a substitute goalkeeper on the bench.
The opening was a cagey affair and it was the 52nd minute when Crystal Palace secured their second goal of the game. Fran Ali was shown a yellow card after committing a foul in the Lionesses’ half and Hannah McKenzie put the ball in the back of the net after a penalty box scramble from a free-kick.
Only a minute later, all of those long-range efforts from Gabby Ravenscroft was finally rewarded when her effort from outside the box sailed over the stand-in ‘keeper and saw the score line hit 2-1 in the 53rd minute.
After more scrappy and late tackles from both sides, Ylenia Priest again showed her value to her side in the 62nd minute when a great clearance from a Crystal Palace cross stopped what seemed to be a certain goal.
The Eagles re-established their two-goal lead in the 63rd minute when the returning Gemma Bryan rose well in the penalty area and headed in a glorious cross and left Chloe Sansom with no chance of keeping the ball out. The home fans cheered, and the mountain left for the Lionesses to climb was just too high.
The two sides continued to have chances for the duration of the half, but the final whistle in the 90th minute ended a high tempo and passionate affair. Both sides had plenty of chances and some of the full bloodied tackles showed a great advertisement for the Women’s Championship, but the result sees the Millwall Lionesses remain at the foot of the table and provided Crystal Palace with some breathing space as we entered 2019.
Crystal Palace Ladies:
Salgado (Balfour 45), McRoberts, Nash, Holdaway (Haydock 75), Watling, Georgiou, Mackenzie, Nuttall, Hincks, Burr, Bryan (McKeag 90)
Unused Subs: Green, Davenport, Collins, Butler
Sansom, Cowan, Bailes, Priest, Ravenscroft, Cataldo, Clarke (Lumsden 69), Stenning, Fitzgerald, Young (Rossiter 56), Ali (Harford 75).
Unused Subs: Hartshorne, Auguste, Bailey, Neville