Hammers fall to County Cup defeat at Crystal Palace

Palace v Ladies

A spirited fight-back was not enough for West Ham United Ladies to avoid losing at Crystal Palace Ladies 3-1, leading to their elimination from the County Cups.

A controversial penalty and a close-ranged finish had put Palace in control with a two-goal lead at half-time in Sunday’s fixture, leaving the Hammers with it all to do in the second period.

A clever curling finish from Julie Melfald with 15 minutes to play dragged the Ladies back into contention, but a well-worked goal for Palace secured the home side’s victory towards the end of the game.

The Hammers made three changes to their starting XI from the last contest with Rosie Kmita, Paige Anderson-James and Molly Peters struggling with injuries. The former duo at least made the bench while the trio were replaced by Mollie Kmita, Andreya Ezekiel-Meade and Kelly Wealthall in the side.

The opening goal of the match came in dubious circumstances as the referee awarded Palace a free-kick, only to then change his mind and give the home side a penalty. Nikita Whinnett put the Eagles in front from the spot on 15 minutes.

A lively Kelly Wealthall stole possession moments later and her shot was straight at the goalkeeper, before Burr received the ball from a lovely pass by Chantelle Mackie, but her effort was well-saved by Lynch.

The Hammers were made to pay for that missed opportunity as Palace went two ahead. Cherie Rowlands made a great save to deny McRoberts but Elliie Stenning was on hand to smash home the rebound.

Burr again came close with a wonderful dipping effort that looked destined for the top corner, if not for an incredible save, while Wealthall was able to nip around Lynch only for the angle to be made too narrow by her touch.

Greg de Carnys made two changes at the start of the second half with Melfald and Dayna Chong entering the fray, meaning all three had been used after Anderson-James entered the fray after just 16 minutes, only to be removed at half-time due to injury.

The Hammers almost found a way back into the contest within minutes of the restart as Amber Stobbs just failed to latch onto a clever free-kick.

The home side could have secured the win as Rowlands was forced into an excellent save from a Bailes effort, but with 15 minutes to go substitute Melfald fired home a left-footed shot from outside the area to half the deficit.

Palace had hit the post as well, prior to Melfald’s well-taken goal, and the West Ham finish gave the away side hope of getting back into the match in the final few minutes.

But Palace found the third that they had been threatening in the 82nd minute as an excellent flicked pass allowed Bailes to fire into the net from close range.

West Ham United Ladies: Rowland; Mackie, Wheeler, Austin, Auguste; M Kmita, Burr, Ezekiel-Meade (Anderson-James 16’- Chong 46’), Cooper, Stobbs; Wealthall (Melfald 46’)

Subs not used: Walker, R Kmita

Goals: Melfald 74’


Crystal Palace Ladies: Lynch; McRoberts, Foreman, Bailes, Paye (Collins 79’),  Holdaway, Sherwood (Chandler 62’), Haydock, Whinnett, Goss (Davenport 76’), Stenning

Subs not used: Collins, Bryan

Goals: Whinnett 15’ (p), Stenning 29’, Bailes 82’