Sunderland Women were looking to gain their first win of the season against Crystal Palace, at Hayes Lane, home of Bromley Football Club.
Neve Herron set the tone for the lasses early on, with a curling cross, which was headed wide by full back Abby Holmes. Forward Emily Scarr was causing the Palace defence problems with her pace, work rate and willingness to run the channels.
Around the 20 minute mark, Palace created what was to be their best chance of the match. The Sunderland defence allowed a ball to be crossed in from the Palace left. The dangerous Annabel Blanchard rose and headed the ball into the grateful hands of Lasses goalkeeper Claudia Moan. Shortly after it was our chance to threaten, as Herron sprinted through on goal, but hit her effort straight at the Palace keeper.
We were playing well. The talented Herron, midfielder Holly Manders and Scarr, in particular, were all on fire.
Into the second half and Manders was unlucky not to score after an excellent break into the Palace box. Not long after, we got our goal. Holmes with a clever bit of skill in the Palace half, she played a good ball to Herron on the edge of the box. Herron let fly with a shot that the Palace keeper could only parry into the path of the on-rushing Scarr, who slotted home.
The Lasses had worked hard all game and manager Mel Reay made a triple substitution on 62 mins. Scarr, Manders and captain Emma Kelly having all played exceptionally well and given everything out there, were replaced by three pacy players, in the form of Tyler Dodds, Nikki Gears and Katy Watson.
The changes signalled to the team that the manager didn’t want the intensity to drop and we’d have the pace to hit Palace on the break, as the half wore on.
The focus and the concentration levels shown by the team defensively was outstanding. This resulted in Palace being forced to play in front of our back four and resorted to hitting long diagonal balls that centre halves, Grace McCatty, Bri Westrup and Megan Beer dealt with magnificently. Palace had more of the ball in the second half, but didn’t create any clear-cut chances.
We then got our second goal and a well-worked one it was. A composed ball out of defence by Westrup, set substitute Gears away, she then spotted the great run of fellow substitute Watson, who rounded the keeper and fired home to seal an excellent away win.
The Lasses play another high-flying side on Sunday, London City Lionesses at Eppleton CW, with a 12 noon kick-off. Get yourself along and support the Lasses.
Claudia Moan 7/10
The ‘keeper showed good safe hands all afternoon.
Abby Holmes 8/10
She got up and down the right all game. Very good performance.
Megan Beer 7/10
Solid as ever.
Grace McCatty 7/10
Clearly enjoyed the battle, a consummate defensive performance.
Brianna Westrup 8/10
Pure quality at the back. She and Holmes were great signings in the summer.
Louise Griffiths 7/10
She’s such a consistent player. Very good game.
Neve Herron 8/10
An all-action display. Just needs to be careful to ensure she channels that aggression in the right way.
Emma Kelly 7/10
Strong on the ball. Captains performance. Player of the campaign to date.
Danielle Brown 7/10
Goes about her work quietly but very effectively.
Holly Manders 8/10
She was lively and hardworking and deserved to be back in the side from the start.
Emily Scarr 9/10
She set the tone with her hold-up play and tireless running and got the goal her play deserved. She’s a central forward now. Not many, if any, are better than her in the Championship, on her current form.
Nicki Gears 7/10
Played a lovely weighted ball to Watson for the second goal.
Katy Watson 7/10
The youngster took her goal superbly.
Tyler Dodds 7/10
She grafted hard at time when Palace had most of the possession.