A very strong Crystal Palace Development team - fielding six first team players - dominated a visiting Birmingham City side this afternoon and were denied a deserved three points by a 71st minute equaliser from the Blues, leaving the match at 1-1.
- Palace lineup with Gary Cahill, Victor Camarasa, James McCarthy, Stephen Henderson, Jairo Riedewald and Sam Woods.
- They look superior throughout the first half, with Camarasa coming close on several occasions.
- Gio McGregor’s penalty-shout is dismissed after 25 minutes.
- At half-time, the score is level.
- McGregor opens the scoring with a stunning curled effort. The Eagles stay dominant and enjoy chance after chance.
- Against the run of play, Odin Bailey pulls Birmingham level.
- At full time, the game ends 1-1.
Starting under driving south London rain, the Eagles were set-up positively by manager Richard Shaw, and experienced midfielders Camarasa and McCarthy looked like finely tuned cogs in an intimidating machine.
They - alongside Jason Lokilo and Brandon Pierrick running the left and right wings respectively and McGregor, who played centrally but further forward - were able to supply Palace’s offensive charges richly. Resultingly, the home side threatened several times through Pierrick, who misplaced at the back post; McGregor, who found himself crowded out; and James Daly, whose venomous shot from distance stung the palms of ‘keeper Connal Trueman.
Further chances came as Palace enjoyed all of the game’s best passages and the home side came inches away through a dipping Camarasa free-kick which was marginally too high. McGregor, who fell heavily in the box under pressure from Geraldo Bajrami, was unable to convince referee Michael Ryan that his tumble deserved a penalty.
By the 30-minute mark, the south Londoners could consider themselves unlucky not to be two goals up with their nearest miss of the half coming through a sharp-looking Camarasa. Rising to meet Lokilo’s well-chipped cross, the Spaniard headed into the ground before Bajrami flung himself into an athletic goal-line clearance.
For all their effort, however, and in the face of a Blues side who failed to muster a single shot on target, Palace entered the break level with the visitors.
Though the afternoon’s deadlock wouldn’t last for long following the re-start, with McGregor determined to open his side’s scoring after a frustrating first half. Picking up the ball from Camarasa on the left of midfield, the young goalscorer cut onto his right foot and struck a perfectly-hit ball which curled past Trueman and into the bulging netting.
Neither the battling elements nor Palace’s newfound lead tempted the Eagles into relenting, and Shaw’s men kept their boots firmly on the gas.
Chances continued to fall to Daly, Lokilo and the stand-out performer Camarasa, who firmly stung the palms of Trueman from the edge of the box. Racing through one-on-one, 17-year-old Pierrick must have cursed his luck as the Birmingham No.1 did well to block his close-range effort and then leap up to deny Camarasa on the rebound from a similar distance.
Only minutes later, though, Palace’s deserved lead was pegged back by a similar double-chance as substitute Kane Thompson-Sommers threaded in Bailey who, with the visitor’s first attempt, struck the post from 15 yards before placing the rebound into an almost unguarded net.
Inspired by their equaliser, Birmingham nearly bagged again only to be denied by the instincts of Daly, who struck the ball from goal just a yard ahead of the line.
Holding the visitors' late charge off, Palace managed to secure a point as the afternoon's clash wound to a close but will feel frustrated not to have left SE25 as deserving victors.
Palace: Henderson, Riedewald, Cahill, Woods, Tavares, McGregor, Lokilo (Flanagan 81), McCarthy, Camarasa, Pierrick, Daly.
Subs not used: Tupper, Hobbs, D.Boateng, M.Boateng.
Birmingham: Trueman, Gordan, Bajrami, Redmond, Burke, Concannon (Andrews 64), Boyd-Munce, Stirk, Bellingham, Bailey (Roberts 84), Ruiz (Thompson-Sommers 71).
Subs not used: Ramos, Forrest, Andrews.
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