Norwich Ladies leapfrog Ipswich into third place

Norwich City 1, Crystal Palace 0

Norwich City Ladies, having not played a league game since 21st October due to cup competitions and weather postponements, returned to action with a home game versus Crystal Palace.

With a full-strength squad, City were looking to leapfrog Enfield and local rivals Ipswich into third position.

Norwich started the game brightly and dominated possession during the early stages, using the ball well and making passes with conviction. Palace set up with five at the back which made it difficult for City to break down, despite the large amount of possession. With Norwich pressing to find the early goal, Palace were happy to soak up the pressure and try and hit on the counter attack, but Norwich were well organised and defended well.

It took 26 minutes for the opening goal to arrive and it was City that took the lead after a header by Kate Parsons fell to Vicki Stephens who hit the ball into the far corner out of the goalkeeper’s reach to make the score 1-0.

Norwich continued to press in search for a second goal of the game, but Palaces tactics were effective in stopping City double their lead.

Wide players Anna Larkins and Kyla Love were playing well when given the opportunity to go one versus one with the Palace full backs by the midfield duo of Hayley Collison and Gemma Farman but the ball wouldn’t quite fall for Norwich in the box.

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Half Time Score: Norwich 1 – 0 Crystal Palace.

Palace came out in the second half a little more attacking but were still compact in defence which opened the game out a little, creating space for Norwich to attack more freely.

Norwich were battling hard to turn defence into attack and were looking confident in possession. Kate Parsons went close with a couple of long-range efforts and Sasha Diston headed wide from a corner but were unable to make it 2-0.

Norwich introduced Nadine Basson and Natalie Clark for Vicki Stephens and Kyla Love and it was Basson’s introduction that seemed to inspire Norwich into a different gear when attacking, playing unselfishly to bring other players into the game.

The final Norwich chance came 10 minutes before the final whistle when Basson found Parsons in space in the Palace penalty area but her shot went over the bar.

City’s final substitution saw Gabrielle Whitehurst replace Gemma Farman for the final 20 minutes in centre midfield.

Norwich were disciplined in the final 10 minutes and saw the game out professionally. To Palace’s credit, they continued to look for a late equaliser and a dangerous cross from wide was eventually cleared by Norwich.

Speaking following the win, manager Emma Fletcher said: “It was great for us to get a league game under our belt following our run of cup competitions and postponements due to the recent weather. Although Palace are bottom of the league they are fighting to stay in the league even at this early stage and put numbers behind the ball which at times we found hard to break down.”

Squad: Coombes, Newcoombe, Gray, Diston, Cooper, Farman, Collison, Love, Larkins, Stephens, Paraons (Subs: Basson, Whitehurst, Clark).