Mayra Ramirez magic steers Chelsea Women past Crystal Palace in the FA Cup

Chelsea Women needed a moment of magic from record signing Mayra Ramirez to find a way past Crystal Palace in the FA Cup.

Emma Hayes vowed pre-match to give the competition the respect they deserved and was true to her word, naming a full strength side against their lower league opposition.

There was a last minute change to the line ups however as England international Lauren James pulled out with illness to be replaced by Fran Kirby.

Despite the gulf in resources and league position, the first half was a relatively even encounter, with a mix of Chelsea sloppiness and Palace organisation combining to limit the game to few clear cut chances.

Promotion chasing Palace, buoyed on by a loud and large travelling support, gave a great account of themselves at a level they hope to compete at next season, and were deserving of their halftime parity.

The second half was not too dissimilar as Palace’s shape denied Chelsea the ability to play in between the lines and limited their effectiveness going forward.

The gulf in resources between the two clubs could best be illustrated by each sides bench with Chelsea manager Emma Hayes having the luxury of being able to introduce talent such Sjoeke Nusken, Jelena Cankovic and Aggie Beever-Jones.

The latter made an instant impact, picking the ball up and beating her opposing full back on more than one occasion.

As game entered the 80th minute, it looked as if the Championship side might hang on for a shock result, although numerous stoppages for cramp showed the toll that the game was taking on the visitors.

It was during one of these stoppages that the Chelsea players gathered in an impromptu huddle to regroup, led by captain for the day Niamh Charles.

Charles said: “I can’t remember exactly what we discussed but it was probably along the lines of sticking at what we were doing and eventually it will come.”

And come it did in the form of magic from Colombian international Mayra Ramirez.

The impressive Beever-Jones won possession back on the edge of the area allowing the ball to be recycled and the onrushing full back Ashley Lawrence to be played in behind the Palace defence.

Her low drive across goal came to the on rushing Mayra Ramirez at the near post who provided the deftest of back heels to steer the ball up and past goalkeeper Demi Lambourne to break Palace hearts.

Post-match Hayes reflected: “It was a typical FA Cup tie.

“Crystal Palace were organised so well and stopped us being able to play our game.

“They were actually better set up than some WSL sides we have faced and they made it a tougher game than many people would have expected.”

Crystal Palace manager Laura Kaminski was proud of the performance her side put on and hopes that showing their ability to compete with the reigning WSL champions gives them a boost in the promotion race.

On Hayes’ compliments Kaminski said: “To hear that from somebody like Emma Hayes is amazing to hear.

“The girls are gutted to lose one nil to Chelsea which shows just how well they played and comments from somebody like Emma will be great for them to hear.”

Chelsea now turn their attentions to Friday’s huge top of the table Women’s Super League clash with rivals Manchester City, as they play their fourth game in 12 days ahead of the international break.

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