FA Women’s Premier League (Southern Section)
Team: Caldwell, Lopes, Engels, Sseninde, Sloan, Peck, Searle (O’Callaghan), Godden, Anu (Peacock), Netschova (Thompson), Knell
Sub Not Used: Smith
The ladies squad had lost a large number of players prior to the end of last season. One incoming player we were told about was Lauren Peck, a winger who had been a product of the Chelsea academy.
Another new arrival during the summer was 1st team coach, Adrian Iglesias Garcia who had replaced Miguel De Souza.
The players were in Belgium pre-season where they had played KSV Bredene and Zulte Waregem.
There was no sign of Rangers stalwart Elly Maggs, but one player we did know from last season was Victoria Caldwell in goal.
Facing the R’s was a Palace side, who not only got promoted last season, but they had completed the whole campaign undefeated.
We observed a minute’s silence prior to kick-off out of respect we understood, for the passing of someone connected to Portsmouth Ladies.
There was then a significant delay due to the referee spotting a hole close to the centre circle. Eventually the barman arrived from the clubhouse with a bucket (of sand?) to fill it in.
An R’s player was forced down after the ball had hit her in the face and was then led off the pitch.
A ball put across the six-yard box from the right flank just evaded the outstretched leg of a Palace player. This was followed by a deep cross from the right-wing which was headed just wide.
The Eagles continued to look very dangerous and create chances. On one occasion Rangers lost the ball in midfield, which resulted in the Palace shot being well held by Victoria Caldwell.
With just minutes to go before half-time, the visitors were awarded a free kick just outside the box. The ball was heading for the top corner, but the Rangers custodian dived spectacularly to her right to keep it out.
The Palace No.2 was booked and Rangers then made their first substitution of the afternoon.
Half-time: 0-0. Rangers had battled their way through the half, but unfortunately had not produced anything on target.
The Eagles really should have taken the lead after Victoria Caldwell had uncharacteristically given the ball away to a Palace player, who then rounded the R’s keeper but somehow proceeded to shoot wide!
At the other end, the QPR No.12 put a good ball over from the right, but it was directed too close to the Palace keeper.
Rangers continued to be put under pressure by a Palace side still in search of a goal and the R’s players were giving the ball away far too often.
A shot from close on 30 yards prompted Victoria Caldwell into making an outstanding save as she took off to her right.
The referee was clearly struggling with a back problem and was eventually forced to withdraw. One of the linesmen replaced him and after some consultation it was agreed that a Rangers official would run the line.
A Palace free kick was floated over from the right-flank, which was then flicked just wide.
Not surprisingly the R’s players were tiring but held out until the 82nd minute when Leanne Bell scored the goal that the visitors deserved.