24. Crystal Palace v Charlton Athletic

There’s no doubting that the FA Cup, in both its male and female forms, is special. Even in amongst all the great league and cup tournaments that go on around the country every week, the FA Cup shines out like a beautiful gem. This can be evidenced by a number of first round games in the women’s cup being moved to large, prestigious stadiums from the rather utilitarian grounds that normally host women’s matches. One of the teams making such a move is Crystal Palace of the WPL Southern Division, who will be playing their tie against their divisional (and geographical) rivals Charlton Athletic at Selhurst Park.

Of the two teams Charlton have the better league record this season, their seven wins from ten games mean they are second in the Southern Division table. Palace aren’t doing badly either – three wins and four draws leave them in a respectable mid-table position halfway through the season. The two teams are clearly evenly matched however, as their two league meetings this season have both ended in draws. When they met in Bromley in September Palace fought back from a 3-0 deficit to draw 3-3, then three weeks later it was Charlton’s turn to come from behind, pegging back a two goal Palace lead to earn a 2-2 draw.

Both teams will be looking to continue the excellent form they both showed last season. Palace were runaway winners of South East Division One, their 20 wins in 22 games was more then enough to earn them promotion to the Southern Division. Charlton meanwhile were runners-up in the league to now-WSL side Brighton & Hove Albion. Both clubs are also progressing well in this year’s WPL Cup too and both are due to play in the quarter-finals of that competition next weekend.

Looking at their progress in last season’s FA Cup, Charlton made it further into the competition than Palace, thanks to them reaching the fourth round where they were eliminated by Durham of WSL2, but Palace won more games, courtesy of them entering the competition in the third qualifying round. Their progress was halted in the second round by West Ham United.

My prediction: In several of these previews I’ve said that the result could go either way, and this is definitely the case here too. The two draws between them make it really hard to predict a winner, but I’m going to pick Charlton as my winners for this game simply because of their superior league record.

The stats

Crystal Palace (@PalaceLadiesFC)

FA Women’s Premier League, Southern Division (level 3)
League form: w3 d4 l2 gd+4 = 6th place out of 11

2016/17 FA Cup
Entering at first round

2015/16 FA Cup
3Q – Crystal Palace 5-0 Team Solent (level 6)
4Q – Denham United (4) 1-2 Crystal Palace
1R – Milton Keynes Dons (4) 0-4 Crystal Palace
2R – Crystal Palace 1-2 West Ham United (3)

Charlton Athletic (@CAFCWomen)

FA Women’s Premier League, Southern Division (level 3)
League form: w7 d2 l1 gd+16 = 2nd place out of 11

2016/17 FA Cup
Entering at first round

2015/16 FA Cup
2R – Charlton Athletic 9-0 Plymouth Argyle (3)
3R – Charlton Athletic 10-0 Newcastle United (3)
4R – Durham (2) 3-1 Charlton Athletic

Crystal Palace v Charlton Athletic, FA Women's Cup, December 2016
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