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Report: Rovers Ladies 2-2 Crystal Palace Women

Natasha Fenton rescued a point for Rovers, who had taken the lead earlier in the contest

7 February 2021

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Rovers Ladies scored a last-minute equaliser to draw 2-2 with Crystal Palace Women at Bamber Bridge on Sunday afternoon.

Jade Richards’ opener had the Blues in front before Cherelle Khassal levelled just before the break.

And despite a dominant second half from Gemma Donnelly’s side, it was Palace who netted what looked to be the winner late on.

But Rovers showed their powers of recovery to draw level in the final minute of normal time – via Natasha Fenton’s strike - and take a share of the spoils.

Three changes were made to the side that drew with Charlton Athletic with Chelsey Jukes and Ellie Fletcher returning to the starting 11, as did Ali Johnson, while there was a home debut for centre-back Hannah Coan.

In a topsy-turvy encounter, the visitors started the brighter and following a goalmouth scramble in the Rovers box, Siobhan Wilson’s effort was eventually held by Alex Brooks.

Rovers briefly threatened when Maria Edwards found space for a cross on the right but couldn’t pick out a player in the middle and Chelsey Jukes made a strong run forward to no avail.

Back at the other end, Coral-Jade Haines went for goal from a central free-kick and her strike flew over the crossbar.

Wilson was at the heart of everything for the away side and her low, left-footed drive had Rovers stopper Brooks troubled, but she managed to turn the ball behind.

Khassal then broke down the left and tried to find Kate Natkiel in the middle, with Jukes there to make a brilliant interception.

It was Rovers who broke the deadlock on 26 minutes as Jade Richards rose highest to powerfully head home Emma Doyle’s corner.

Crystal Palace were back on terms six minutes later, however. Khassal turned home Wilson’s cross from the left with a first-time finish into the bottom corner.

Khassal was soon in for her second and it took a superb save from Brooks to keep her out from point-blank range.

The hosts created the final opportunity of the half and after some good build-up play, Doyle’s strike looked to be heading in, only for Morgan to tip the ball onto the post.

Rovers made a triple change at the break with Kayleigh McDonald, Georgia Walters and Annabel Blanchard all introduced, and the hosts started on the front foot.

Doyle’s corner landed at the feet of Elise Hughes, who had switched from No.10 to centre-back, but she was unable to turn the ball home.

Jukes then found Blanchard in space and she unselfishly squared the ball to Saffron Jordan, with Morgan saving from close range.

Another substitute almost got on the scoresheet early in the second half. Ali Johnson twice picked out Walters and she also found the Palace ‘keeper in the way on both occasions.

Palace were still dangerous on the counter-attack and when Wilson raced through on goal, Brooks had to alert to the danger and snuff it out.

It was the Blues doing the majority of the pressing, though, with Blanchard and Doyle both denied in quick succession by the increasingly busy Morgan.

More great play from Rovers brought another opportunity as the influential Blanchard slid through Jordan in the box and Morgan somehow kept it out.

The Rovers skipper was in once more shortly after, with Morgan once again equal to her outside-of-the-foot effort.

Hope Knight came on for her debut and saw a cross eventually recycled into the box, but a last-ditch block prevented Jordan getting a shot away.

The ball just wouldn’t seem to fall for Rovers and after Blanchard and Jordan combined again, Morgan was on hand to save Jordan’s fierce strike.

Then a Palace corner created confusion in the box and visiting captain Annabel Johnson was able to poke the ball home in the 87th minute.

Rovers' never-say-die attitude and character to bounce back was on full display to equalise at the death, with Fenton’s strike finding the top corner via a deflection, making it all square and ensuring both teams would earn a point.

Rovers now have a month-long break from competitive fixtures before welcoming Durham to Bamber Bridge on Sunday 7 March (2pm kick-off).

ROVERS: Brooks; Fletcher, Richards (McDonald 46), Coan (Walters 46), Jukes; Fenton, Doyle; Edwards (Blanchard 46), Hughes Johnson (Knight 69); Jordan (c).

Unused subs: Bradley, Newsham, Dean, Hodgson.

Referee: Magdalena Golba

HT: 1-1

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