A strong Palace development side hit five past their Colchester United counterparts in an entertaining friendly win.
First team manager Ian Holloway was in the stands at the Weston Homes Community Stadium to run the rule over Jonathan Parr, Jose Campana, Stuart O’Keefe, Elliot Grandin, Jimmy Kebe, Jerome Thomas and Kevin Phillips, who all picked up vital game time.
And it was Ollie’s experienced charges who turned on the style to prove the difference between the two sides, with a Kevin Phillips brace and goals from Campana, Kebe and O’Keefe sealing a routine win.
Much of the build-up to the fixture surrounded ex-Eagles striker Clinton Morrison, who started up front against his former employers. But it didn’t take long for the home faithful to be silenced.
With just four minutes on the clock, Palace won a free kick in a dangerous position around 25 yards from goal. Spaniard Campana stepped up and curled a beautiful effort beyond the reach of Mark Cousins and into the bottom corner.
The Eagles dominated possession in the early stages and Kevin Phillips missed a great opportunity to double the lead, missing a close-range header when he looked odds-on to score. But with 20 minutes played, the veteran striker made amends, unselfishly playing in Kebe who slotted past Cousins to make it 2-0.
The goal sparked the Us into life and they enjoyed a good spell as they tried to drag themselves back into the game. Morrison was heavily involved as he looked to make a mark against his old club, driving into the box and crossing for strike partner Freddie Ladapo, who fired just wide of Lewis Price’s upright.
Morrison then spurned a half-chance of his own, before the Eagles made them pay with a swift counter attacking move. Thomas picked up the ball in space and slid a fine pass through to Kevin Phillips, who made no mistake to give Palace a three-goal cushion heading into the break.
Colchester, who were forced to take off the injured Cousins at half-time, needed a quick start to the second period. But substitute goalkeeper Shaun Phillips found himself picking the ball out of his net just 30 seconds after the restart, as Palace put the result beyond doubt. The impressive O’Keefe, who captained the side in an all-action display, burst into the box and was on hand to tap home Kebe’s low cross to make it 4-0.
But the hosts pulled a goal back almost immediately, as Michael O’Donoghue bombed forward from full-back, crossing from deep for Lapado to athletically hook the ball past Price.
The Welshman made a good save moments later to deny Conor Hubble, before the Eagles restored their four-goal advantage with 20 minutes to go. Substitute Sullay Kaikai did well to pick out Kevin Phillips, who gave his namesake in the Colchester goal no chance with a clinical finish.
There was still time for the home side to grab a second consolation goal, as Lapado lashed a powerful drive into the top corner. And Price needed to be on top form again to deny Hubble right at the death, after he was played in by Morrison.
But 5-2 was the way it stayed, leaving Ian Holloway to reflect on a good workout for a number of his first team stars.
Colchester starting XI: Cousins, Spence, O'Donoghue, Sanderson, Roast, Hubble, Bean, Simmons, Melaugh, Lapado, Morrison.
Palace starting XI: Price, Parr, Wynter, Croll, Jerome Williams, Grandin, O'Keefe, Campana, Thomas, Kebe, Phillips.