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Report: Crystal Palace Women 2-3 Rovers Ladies

Natasha Fenton's winner came deep into stoppage time

27 September 2020

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Rovers Ladies recorded their first victory of the FA Women's Championship campaign thanks to a dramatic late goal from Natasha Fenton.

Gherelle Khassal grabbed an early Palace opener and Bianca Baptiste had the Eagles ahead for a second time, but Rovers twice responded through Jade Richards and Ellie Stewart, before Fenton came up with the winner in the 94th minute.

Gemma Donnelly made two changes to the side that lost 1-0 to Charlton Athletic with Kayleigh McDonald and Saffron Jordan returning to the starting 11 after suspension, in place of injured pair Meg Boydell and Issy Dean. 

After an even opening, with both sides seeing efforts fail to find the target, Palace seized the initiative when Baptiste found space to move down the right and square the ball for Khassal to tap home.

Rovers almost responded immediately via McDonald's well worked free-kick, which was met and headed narrowly wide by Richards. 

Khassal then got in behind the backline once again but Fran Bentley was able to comfortably save her effort, before the Blues got back in the contest. 

Elise Hughes laid the ball off for Ellie Fletcher, who picked out Richards to head home at the back post, scoring her first goal in Rovers colours and the team's first of the new campaign.

There was a shot on target at either end before the break, but neither Khassal nor Fenton troubled the respective 'keepers. 

The home side regained their lead five minutes into the second period. Baptiste, assister of the first, capitalised on a stray pass to nip in and slot the ball into the bottom corner. 

In a second-half devoid of many clear-cut chances, Rovers levelled once more when a Palace player handled the ball in a packed penalty area and the referee pointed to the spot after deliberation with her assistant.

Stewart stepped up following a long delay and coolly converted, picking out the corner and setting up the game nicely for the final 20 minutes. 

A few half chances followed via Jordan's centre, which Hughes was close to getting a touch on and Richards headed wide from McDonald, while Amy Taylor's volley from distance failed to trouble the Rovers goal and Coral Haines' cheeky lob landed on the roof of Rovers' net. 

Then, with the game heading towards a draw, Fenton went for goal from the touchline and found the far top corner to spark jubilant scenes amongst Rovers players and staff. 

Next up, the Blues host Birmingham City in the Continental Cup on Wednesday 7 October (7:45pm kick-off) and then travel to face Lewes Women at The Dripping Pan on Sunday 11 October, (12pm kick-off).

ROVERS: Bentley (GK); McDonald, Richards, Stewart, Newsham (Walters 88); Doyle (Jukes 62), Fenton, Hodgson (Embley 65), Fletcher; Jordan, Hughes. 

Unused Subs: Brooks (GK), Dean. 

Referee: Emily Heaslip

HT: 1-1

Goals: Richards 25', Stewart 69', Fenton 90+4' 

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