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19:02 7th August 2010

Crystal Palace 3-2 Leicester City

With the Holmesdale Stand adorned in blue and red ribbons that stretched down from the top tier to the bottom, a new era in Crystal Palace's history was ushered in as new owners Steve Parish, Martin Long and Stephen Browett were introduced to the crowd. But it was the three goals in the first half that really got things started with a bang. Wilfried Zaha, Darren Ambrose and Alan Lee all converted to round off a thrilling first half performance and, despite City pulling two back in the second half, all but sealing the first three points of the season. Zaha opened the scoring for the Eagles when he took advantage of an Alan Lee knock down on 19 minutes to turn his marker and fire home from ten yards, while Ambrose fired a low effort from just outside the box that was too good for Chris Weale in the Foxes' net and Lee made it three on 39 minutes. Leicester made things a little less certain in the second half when Andy King and then DJ Campbell scored to make it 3-2, but the Eagles held out for the win. Ahead of the game George Burley surprised everyone when he named two Academy starlets in his first starting XI - Zaha, 17, and Kieron Cadogan, 19. Zaha, making his first professional start for the club, lined up alongside Lee with Cadogan taking a wide right position in a four man midfield. New signings Andy Dorman and Owen Garvan partnered each other in the centre, and Darren Ambrose took up position on the left. Friday's addition, Julian Bennett, made his his bow at left back alongside new captain Paddy McCarthy, Claude Davis and Nathaniel Clyne. Up until the opener it was the visitors who had created the better of the opportunities in the opening stages, with Lloyd Dyer's low left footed effort not worrying Speroni as it ran past his left hand post after four minutes. He then should have done better six minutes later when he sprung the offiside trap to latch onto a long ball, but instead of taking a touch he chose to try a first time lob that never looked likely of worrying Speroni. In response Palace threatened with some good possession, but they struggled to find a way through the Leicester back line - Garvan coming the closest with a left footed volley that was blocked in the six yard box. Paulo Sousa's men were almost gifted their first of the season when Paddy McCarthy screwied the ball onto the roof of his own net after throwing himself at a low cross. But Palace's possession finally found its killer touch when Zaha ran clear to give the Eagles the lead on 19 minutes. A ball up to Alan Lee from midfield was knocked down to the edge of the box, and Zaha was able to use the bounce to turn his marker before firing a super half volley, with the outside of his boot, past Weale. Things then got even better as Palace found themselves two-up seven minutes later when the Leicester defence backed off, and backed off Ambrose on the edge of the box. The midfielder needed no more excuses to shoot, and he fired a low effort from 20 yards that Weale could only parry against the inside of his own post and into the back of the net. Zaha then showed again why he has been so highly rated at the Beckenham Training Ground, when he did brilliantly inside the box to work himself some shooting space, only to see his effort parried into the path of Lee for a simple tap-in. With three minutes to go, Leicester City should have pulled one back when Dany N'Guessan managed to get round Nathaniel Clyne and crossed to Matty Fryatt, who somehow managed to hit it wide from four yards. In the closing seconds, Dyer again showed that he was the most dangerous man for the Foxes when he cut in from the left and curled an effort to the far top corner that Speroni did brilliantly to parry wide. He then did the exact same minutes into the restart, this time coming in from the right and seeing a left footed shot blocked. A foul 25 yards out then provided Ambrose with the chance to aim one of his trademark free kicks at goal. His low shot beat the wall, but it was too central and Weale made the save. Dyer's performance all afternoon deserved a goal, and that almost arrived on 55 minutes when, escorted down the channel on the right by Andy Dorman, he took it to the by-line and fired a shot that cannoned off the underside of the bar. But it was his good work on the right that lead to City pulling one back. His reverse pass on the right wing found an overlapping Robbie Neilson, who ran into the space and crossed for Andy King to head home five yards out. It lead to a nervy period of the game for Palace, and Burley responded by bringing on Alassane N'Diaye in place of Kieron Cadogan and Calvin Andrew for Alan Lee. But Leicester continued to pile on the pressure as the Eagles sat further back on their defensive line. Dyer drew another good save out of Speroni on 69 minutes, while McCarthy was forced to clear a mis-hit shot away for a corner as Steve Howard threatened to beat him to it. Speroni was then forced into another good save, this time from his own player when Davis lost his bearings and headed a Leicester throw-in goalwards. From the resulting corner Jack Hobbs saw his header fly wide of the post. It was all hands to the pump now at the back for Palace as Speroni again kept the Eagles' lead intact with a save off Howard, but up the other end a neat flick from Zaha got him away from his marker to play the ball up to Andrew. The striker then had the foresight to turn and play a square ball right across the pitch to Ambrose, who bore down on goal but saw his effort saved by Weale. But the visitors' pressure paid off six minutes of time when an error from Claude Davis was pounced on by Howard, who then played a brilliant pass across the box for DJ Campbell to finish with a simple tap-in. In the end though it proved too little, too late for the Foxes and Palace held out for their first win under George Burley, and their first three points of the Championship season. Att: 17, 486 (Away 2,352) Crystal Palace: 1.Julian Speroni; 2. Nathaniel Clyne; 4. Claude Davis; 5. Paddy McCarthy (C), 7. Darren Ambrose; 9. Alan Lee (12. Calvin Andrew, 64); 10. Owen Garvan; 11. Andrew Dorman; 15. Kieron Cadogan (25. Alassane N'Diaye, 63 ); 16. Wilfried Zaha (21. Kieran Djilali, 77); 19. Julian Bennett SUBS: 6. Adam Barrett; 13. Lewis Price (GK); 17. Jack Holland; 24. Charlie Holness Leicester City: 1. Chris Weale; 2. Robbie Neilson; 4. Michael Morrison; 8. Matt Oakley; 10. Andy King; 11. Lloyd Dyer; 12. Matt Fryatt (9. Steve Howard, 61); 15. Bruno Berner; 17. Dany N'Guessan (19. Richie Wellens, 59); 25. Jack Hobbs; 32. DJ Campbell SUBS : 13. Conrad Logan (GK); 18. Tom Kennedy; 26. Tom Parkes; 27. Jorrin John; 29. Liam Moor
    Data provided by Press Association