Crystal Palace manager Laura Kaminski hailed her trailblazing players despite a 4-3 defeat to Southampton at Selhurst Park in the Barclays Women’s Championship on Sunday afternoon.
A record crowd of 4,442 were in attendance for an action-packed afternoon in South London, with Katie Wilkinson heading the winner to steal all three points for Saints.
Defeat leaves Palace fourth in the Women’s Championship, two points off the top with a game in hand, and boss Kaminski lauded her side’s efforts.
She said: “It was fantastic, the girls are great role models.
“If you look at the crowd today, there’s every sort of fan you can imagine, from little girls to grown old men which is so great to see.
“For a fan, I thought today was a really great experience.
“I’m really proud of the club and the staff for all the effort they’ve put in and obviously the performance of the players.
“I thought they really showed some grit and resilience and put on a good performance.
“We had a fantastic group behind us – loud and lively, everything in the game was great for a neutral.”
The Story At Selhurst Park
The sides traded two goals apiece before the break, with the visitors twice going in front through Molly Pike and Ella Morris only for strikes from Aimee Everett and Elise Hughes to ensure parity at half-time.
Hughes then put the hosts in front from the spot but Saints sealed victory late on thanks to Rianna Dean and Katie Wilkinson.
Everett’s goal was the pick of the bunch for Palace, as the captain nodded home from a delightful Fliss Gibbons free-kick to make it 1-1 and the Eagles skipper spoke of her pride at playing in front of such a big audience.
Everett added: “The fans were loud right until the end and they were almost our 12th man helping us through the game.”
“The first time walking out at Selhurst Park as captain was a huge honour for myself but I wouldn’t want to walk out with another group of girls.
“Scoring the goal was a proud moment but it’s not just about my goal, it’s about the whole performance and I thought the girls dug deep right till the end.”
View from the opposition
While Palace were left ruing defeat despite a good performance, Southampton boss Marieanne Spacey-Cale was proud of the way her side stayed composed to bounce back from going behind after the break.
She said: “We stayed in real good emotional control in moments of the game where – especially where we went 3-2 down – we could’ve easily panicked and started to do things that we don’t normally do.
“But the girls trusted what they were asked to do but also they looked like they enjoyed the game as well which is so important.
“Three points, four different goalscorers but not just a good performance, the mentality was really strong today.”
Saints host Women’s Super League giants Arsenal in the Conti Cup on Thursday, and Gunners legend Spacey-Cale urged her side to enjoy the occasion.
She added: “We’re in a no lose situation really, so we just want the players to go out and enjoy the performance.
“There’s over ten thousand nearly eleven due to come to the game and maybe a few more after today as well, so it’s a great opportunity for us to just challenge ourselves and see where we’re at in terms of what it looks like for this squad to compete against one of Europe’s best teams.”