KATIE Wilkinson's header was enough for Southampton FC Women to come out on top in a seven-goal thriller against Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park.

The result moves Southampton up to third in the Championship as they leapfrogged the hosts in the table.

Molly Pike put the visitors in front early on before Aimee Everett's header made it 1-1. Ella Morris' header put Saints into the lead again but Elise Hughes struck just before the break.

The Welsh international then made it 3-2 from the penalty spot but Rianna Dean equalised midway through the second half.

That was not the end of the scoring, though, as Wilkinson's header made it 4-3 from Lexi Lloyd-Smith's terrific cross in the final few minutes of the game.

Marieanne Spacey-Cale made one change to the team who lost 2-0 to Charlton Athletic last Sunday with Dean replacing Sophia Pharoah in the starting line-up.

After a bright start, the visitors were rewarded with the opening goal after 13 minutes when Wilkinson snuck in behind and found Pike who struck the ball into the empty net.

Crystal Palace were only behind for five minutes, though, as Mia Gibbons' free kick was headed home by Everett to pull the hosts level.

Saints reacted brilliantly to the setback and they were again in front soon after when the hosts struggled to clear their lines and Dean's cross found Morris who looped her header over Demi Lambourne.

Hughes levelled the score when she got on the end of a cross by Gibbons to make it 2-2 on the stroke of half time.

The away side started the second half brightly with the influential Morris having a shot saved by Lambourne after a swift attack.

The Palace goalkeeper then twice denied Pike from putting Saints into the lead again as Spacey-Cale's side began the half on the front foot.

Pike initially tried to loft the ball over the on-rushing keeper when put through on goal and after a couple of deflections the ball fell at her feet again but Lambourne made a good reaction stop.

Crystal Palace went up the other end and earned themselves a penalty when Rosie Parnell brought down Araya Dennis in the box.

Hughes stepped up and confidently hammered the ball down the middle, leaving Rendell with no chance, for her second of the game.

With 20 minutes remaining, Saints were level again when a free kick into the box was initially headed against the bar by substitute Alice Griffiths. Palace struggled to get the ball away and it was eventually turned in by Dean.

Dean was soon replaced by Lloyd-Smith as Saints sensed a late winner against their promotion rivals.

Lloyd-Smith was immediately involved in the action as Southampton took the lead yet again. The substitute's excellent cross found Wilkinson and her superb header flashed past Lambourne in the Palace goal.

Saints held on to their advantage and they will face Arsenal in the Continental Cup on Thursday at St Mary's in their next outing.