An afternoon that started out so promising for the Eagles, saw Shaun Derry's side fall to a 3-2 defeat to Cardiff City despite taking a 2-0 lead just before the hour-mark.
- Several players from last week’s successful U-19s Winter Tournament in Tel Aviv return to the squad.
- Gio McGregor gives Palace the lead on the half-hour mark. 1-0.
- HT: 1-0.
- Daly doubles Palace's advantage. 2-0.
- Cardiff complete late fightback. 2-3.
- FT: 2-3.
The first-half down at Crystal Palace’s Training Ground was very much the case of two spells. The opening 25 minutes were dominated by the visitors Cardiff City, with the Bluebirds controlling the game without really threatening Ollie Webber in the Palace goal.
A deflected long-range shot on nine minutes, and a tame effort from Mark Harris – that was going wide – before being handled well by Webber were all the visitors could muster.
Jay Rich-Baghuelou found himself in the book on 20 minutes with the centre-back cautioned for stopping a quickly taken free-kick from Cardiff. However, that moment proved to be the catalyst for the imposing centre-back.
Palace’s No.6 went on several marauding runs like a box-to-box midfielder for the Eagles, steamrolling his way through the Cardiff midfield with ease. Therefore, it was no surprise when one of Rich-Baghuelou’s runs was key in Palace taking the lead.
Bypassing five opponents, Rich-Baghuelou freed James Daly down the left-hand flank. The Palace No.9’s first couple of touches took him out wide but, importantly, away from the left-back marshalling him.
Daly fired in a low cross into a surprisingly empty penalty box to find an onrushing Gio McGregor to slot home with ease – the Palace captain took a knock for his troubles but was able to carry on.
Palace were forced to make their second injury-enforced substitute at half-time, with Jordan-Kymani Gordon on for Brandon Aveiro – Malachi Boateng had already come on early in the first-half due to Trialist picking up a knock.
The second-half started much quicker than the first, with both sides registering an excellent chance each. First up was Cardiff’s Sion Spence who went past two Palace players on the edge and attempted a curled finish past Webber that went just wide.
Next it was the turn of Palace’s goalscorer McGregor, the No.8 storming through the middle of the park, turning the retreating Cardiff centre-back before attempting a similar effort to Spence – again, curling the strike just wide of Burwood’s left-hand post.
The more open second-half played right in to Palace’s hands and the sense of a second Eagles goal was building. And it duly arrived in the 58th minute, with Daly scoring his second goal in three games.
A fine clipped long ball from Lewis Hobbs found McGregor in the box, who turned the ball inside to find Daly who smashed home.
The Bluebirds did force themselves back in to the game, though, when on 67 minutes they capitalised on a personnel and formational change for the Eagles. With Lokilo forced off through injury, centre-forward Rob Street came on.
With Palace readjusting their ranks, a poorly taken Cardiff free-kick ended up falling nicely for centre-back Trystan Jones to fire home and reduce the Welsh side’s deficit.
As the game was seemingly petering out to a Palace victory, an uncharacteristic short pass from McGregor sold Hobbs just short and created a one-on-one chance for Cardiff’s Keiron Evans, which the striker took.
That knocked the wind out of the Eagles’ sails and four minutes from time the Cardiff turnaround was complete when Spence, unmarked on the edge of the area, found the back of the net.
Palace: Webber, Russell, Hobbs, Rich-Baghuelou, David Boateng, Kirby, McGregor, Aveiro [Gordon 45], Lokilo [Street 65], Daly, Trialist [Malachi Boateng 24].
Subs Not Used: Mensah, Henry.
Cardiff City: Burwood, Wootton, Coke, D'Almeida, Jones, Bodenham, Williams [Evans 53], Patten, Harris, Spence [Margetson], Moore.
Subs Not Used: Cogman, Kavanagh.