Eagles swoop in to take the points
QPR Ladies started 2017 with a gut-wrenching defeat after a late goal proved the difference at Crystal Palace on Sunday.
A 90th-minute strike from top scorer Gemma Bryan gave the hosts a 1-0 victory, getting the better of Rangers by just a solitary goal for the second time this season.
Palace started the livelier of the two sides, with Ciara Sherwood sending a free-kick narrowly wide after Micaela Lopes handled on the edge of the box.
The Eagles continued to exert pressure with Bryan seeing a number of attempts fly wide, over and off the woodwork.
QPR looked to counter when possible in search of a goal against the run of play and Laura Cooper went close when her long-range effort went wide.
At the other end, returning goalkeeper Jo Ayre was kept busy – producing an array of saves to deny Bryan. The same player looked certain to score before the break when a long ball penetrated the R’s defence before rounding Ayre, only for left back Mariko Engels to make a last-gasp block.
After going in goalless at the break, the R’s confidence seemed high but within the first few minutes of the second period the dominance seemed to be with the hosts again.
Calls for a penalty after captain Elly Maggs went to ground in a tangle with Ellie Bailes were waved away to the frustration of the hosts, but ten minutes later the referee did point to the spot. A controversial call against Jean Sseninde was given by the linesman after the Ugandan international was adjudged to have fouled Bryan, allowing Roschelle Shakes to step up only to see her spot-kick beat Ayre and the crossbar.
Chevannes’ looked to freshen up his Rangers side in aid of trying to snatch a late winner with the introduction of both Jo Blodgett and Dominika Netschova late on before being forced into using his final substitution.
The impressive Ayre was not to last the full 90 as, with ten minutes remaining, brave keeping in a one-on-one situation led to a nasty clash with Bryan. After a substantial period of stoppage, Ayre left the field to a standing ovation with a suspected shoulder injury.
With no keeper named on the bench, Chevannes was forced to resort to top scorer Jenny Critchley taking her chances at the other end for the second time this season with Kianni O’Garro coming on into midfield for her first team debut.
Rangers’ resolute back four looked to keep a clean sheet into the final ten minutes but it wasn’t to be. A deep free-kick was knocked on by Shakes before Bryan diverted the ball into the corner past a devastated Critchley.
With ten minutes of injury time, Rangers looked for an equaliser with a flurry of corners at the death agonisingly coming to nothing to fall for a ninth league defeat this season.
The Ladies remain in 10th position in the FAWPL South with a weekend off before facing a home tie with Coventry United at Honeycroft on February 12th.
Elsewhere, the Reserves were on the receiving end of a 4-1 home defeat to a strong Charlton Athletic side. Natalie Skiverton was on the scoresheet for Neil Bailey’s side, who slip to sixth in the Reserve South Division.
QPR: Ayre (O’Garro 81), Lopes, Engels, Sseninde, Denny, Dempster, Critchley, Cooper (Netschova 73), Roberts (Blodgett 65), Maggs, Butts.