Kwesi Appiah scored twice as the Crystal Palace development side kicked off their pre-season campaign by hitting East Grinstead Town for six.
The game was billed as an under-21 friendly, but with the Palace first team squad plus several regular under-21 players flying back the same evening from their Portugal training camp, a number of trialists and under-18 academy players were also included in the fixture.
But fielding a makeshift line-up didn’t stop the Eagles running out 6-0 winners in a one-sided encounter at the GAC Stadium.
Newcomers Jake Nicholson, formerly of Tottenham Hotspur, Moroccan wide man Ismail H’Maidat and French holding midfielder Brice Irie-Bi were given a place in the starting line-up in a bid to impress under-21 boss Gary Issot.
And it took just two minutes for the away side to take the lead, when lone striker Appiah nodded in a right-wing cross to give Palace the perfect start.
The young front man should have made it two just moments later, but he elected to try and square the ball across the box after being put clean through on goal.
It wasn’t long before the Eagles doubled their lead though, as Jake Gray latched on to a through ball on seven minutes, before coolly rounding Wasps goalkeeper Mark Fox and slotting the ball into an empty net.
The Sussex County League Division One outfit had their first sight at goal a few minutes later, but last season’s top scorer Sam Schaaf scuffed his effort well wide of the target.
That was about as close as East Grinstead came in an opening 45 minutes that was dominated by Issot’s men, who came close again with Nicholson and Appiah, whose effort was well parried by Fox, before an audacious 35-yard lob by Irie-Bi dropped just wide of the target.
It didn’t take long for the third goal to arrive though, as a flowing move down the right presented Gray with a crossing opportunity and his delivery was duly volleyed home by Appiah.
With just over 30 minutes on the clock, Palace made it four thanks to a fine solo effort from H’Maidat, who cut inside from the left and curled a precise shot into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.
The Eagles made wholesale changes at half-time, bringing on six new faces for the second 45, as East Grinstead dropped deeper in a bid to stem the flow of attacks.
Appiah went inches away from completing his hat-trick though as he struck the post after being set up by some neat work down the right from one of the half-time replacements, Derek Tiehu.
Although they weren’t creating as many chances, the away side continued to dominate possession and it took a moment of brilliance from Nicholson 15 minutes from time to break the second half deadlock.
After creating space for himself 20 yards out, the ex-Spurs midfielder rifled a stinging shot past Fox, who was powerless to prevent the ball flying past him into the corner of the net.
Tcheeb Oloyede came close to giving many of the home section of the 400-plus crowd something to cheer, but he hesitated after being put through on goal, allowing substitute Kiran Khinda-John to make a last-ditch block.
And with time running out it was the visitors who netted the sixth goal of the game, as sub Marcel Henry-Francis rounded off a convincing victory by slotting the ball underneath the advancing Fox, to give Gary Issot's men the perfect start to pre-season.
East Grinstead Town: Fox, Noakes, Mustafa, Sinclai, Pelling, Tomsett, Wilson, Abbott, Schaaf, Cooney, Geard.
Palace under-21s: Fitzsimons, Gordon, Berkeley-Agyepong, Sow, Inniss, Chambers, Gray, Nicholson, Appiah, Irie-Bi, H'Maidat.