FA Women’s Championship Preview
Crystal Palace Ladies v Lewes FC Women
Thursday 21st February, KO: 20:00
Venue: Bromley FC
Both sides sit at the wrong end of the FA Women’s Championship table after a challenging season, though both have shown improvements in recent matches.
Crystal Palace manager Dean Davenport, speaking after his side’s dramatic away win against Leicester City, has praised the Palace fans for the way they get behind his players.
“It makes a massive difference,” Davenport said. “The players always know they have to perform when they come out because they [the fans] will always be on the terraces singing about them. They understand the passion that the Palace fans bring, it’s no different and they bring it to the women’s games. Of late, there have been a few opinions put across by fans and the girls have taken that on board. I think it helped against Leicester, the fans didn’t need to come on a three-hour journey with us but they choose to and we appreciate them travelling as well as all the fans that come to the home games because that’s what makes us.”
The turn-around at Leicester was completed thanks to two late strikes from their returning prodigal daughter, Gemma Bryan, back after an unsuccessful spell with high-flying Charlton Athletic.
Speaking to Crystal Palace about her return in January, Bryan said:
“At my age, I want to be playing regularly. I feel like I’ve kind of missed out [with Palace], I was really comfortable at Palace – I wouldn’t have looked to leave. The only reason I left was because the club weren’t due to be competing in the Women’s Championship. I left, and Palace were then granted a place – but my decision had already been made to join Charlton. But in the back of my mind, I always had unfinished business. It was unfair how the teams were allocated, and placed Palace in there once I’d left.”
Lewes are looking to bounce back after a tough run of games that culminated in last-minute defeat away to Millwall in the SSE Women’s FA Cup. The Rooks dominated the game from the start but were punished after they failed to find the target, Millwall scoring in time added on to progress to the 5th round.
Manager Fran Alonso took a lot of positives from that performance, but agreed his players need to be more clinical when they are so much on top in a game.
“The players executed their roles well, they had a lot of possession and created a lot of goal-scoring opportunities. Of course we did score but that was ruled out.
When you lose everything can look bad but for me on that day the best team lost. We just needed more composure in the final third.”
Alonso has added to his squad in recent weeks, bringing in former Everton and Liverpool striker Jess King from Norwegian side Kolbotn.
“We are really excited to be able to bring a player of Jess’s experience and quality into the team” said Fran. “We are building a squad that can challenge for the Super League. It will take some time, but bringing Jess here shows how serious we are about it.“
Jess added: “The first conversation I had with Fran about how he wants us to play, I was very excited about and that was one of the big things that drew me to make my decision.”
Lewes took on FAWNL South leaders Chichester on Sunday in a friendly played at Worthing FC. Alonso and his coaching team rotated squad positions and assessed patterns of play. The boss was pleased with what he saw.
“I was very happy with our display against the National League South leaders. Two teams playing good positional football. I’m proud of my players’ bravery, tactical awareness and work rate. The improvement continues.”
Venue: Bromley FC
Hayes Lane Stadium
23 Hayes Ln, Bromley BR2 9EA
Kick off: 8pm
Adult tickets: £4 in advance https://tickets.cpfc.co.uk/events.aspx £5 on the gate
Palace Season Ticket Holders £2.50
Under 16s: Free of Charge