Paddy McCarthy’s Under-18 side earned a well-fought victory following a close battle with Bristol City today in Beckenham.
The game’s only goal came shortly before the first-half ended as Sean Robertson buried the ball from very close range following some tight-knit link-up play in the box by Rob Street and Joshua Malcolm.
However, the match began with a slow start as both sides seemed cautious about testing one another too keenly. Palace were clearly on top, though, and saw a handful of half-chances either dealt with by the visiting defence or squandered.
Robertson was strongly tackled within 10 minutes of kick-off after a burst into the opposition’s box before Street headed inches wide from the resulting corner.
The attempt on goal was similarly repeated moments later as Street again glanced his header off target from a Robertson cross.
Jude Russell then found himself driving into City’s box with the vocal encouragement of his manager only to be fouled by the visitors. Street stepped up to take the following penalty but was unfortunate to see his well-struck effort intercepted by the opposition ‘keeper, who swiftly got down to his right.
Palace didn’t let their attack relent, however, and persevered in their dominance throughout the half. The visiting shot-stopper again pulled off an admirable save from very short distance to deny the Eagles but it wasn’t much longer until the home side deservedly broke the deadlock.
When Street squared the ball to Malcolm, the goal presented itself to Palace’s No.10 temptingly. However Malcolm was selfless and played the ball across to Robertson, who rifled in with power to put his side ahead.
Following the half-time break, Bristol found themselves with more chances than they'd had in the first spell of play and saw several crosses dealt with by the home defence. One corner resulted in a very near miss as the ball glanced over Palace’s cross bar but, to the relief of the hosts, didn’t yield an equaliser.
Rohan Luthra was then called into action twice at his near post to produce a pair of smart reflex saves, one with his legs and the second with his lightning-fast hands.
Despite City’s newfound momentum, it was Palace who still dominated what had become a tetchy, gritty match and Robertson was frustrated to send a shot wide having initially done well to create the space to pull it off.
Brandon Aveiro came from the bench to refresh Palace’s offensive prominence and several tantalisingly close attempts followed, including Malcolm’s poked effort which ran across the face of goal after Aveiro skilfully worked his way into the box.
Aveiro created another good chance when crossing the ball close to goal on the volley but his lofted pass wasn’t met by anyone in red and blue.
As the game wound down, Robertson was sent off following an altercation with the opposition but Palace did well to see the match out and deservedly earned all three points.
Palace: Luthra, Boateng, Onoabhagbe, Russell, Trehy, Gurung, Keutcha, Malcolm (Kymani-Gordon 80), Robertson, Street (Aveiro 62). Subs not used: Matthews, Donkin, Hanson.