Palace kick-off their pre-season programme.
A clear night at the Dripping Pan in Sussex saw just under 1000 fans watch an experienced Palace side line up against one of the more promising teams in the Ryman Premier in the shape of Lewes FC. It was a first opportunity for supporters to see new signings Joel Ward, Aaron Wilbraham and those currently training with the squad including Jose Baxter.
Palace started the brighter of the two sides with a strong header from Kwesi Appiah sailing just over the bar. Wilbraham then went close minutes later followed by Wilfried Zaha who saw his shot blocked by the Lewes keeper after some clever footwork. On 10 minutes, Palace had their best chance as an intelligent cross from Baxter was met by Appiah but he could only find the top of the bar.
Lewes attempted to put pressure on the Palace goal as they won a corner but an assured take from Lewis Price nullified the threat. Zaha and Kieron Cadogan switching wings instantly created an opening as the latter was set free along the right by Baxter but Zaha saw his low shot blocked. This point of the game saw Lewes have their first chance of the game with their nippy forward firing wide from 20 yards out.
Baxter was involved again as his shot went fizzing just wide of the goal after a smart pass from Appiah. Palace finally broke the deadlock on 24 mins as youth and experience combined beautifully. Zaha's run at the box was intercepted but the ball fell to Cadogan who took no time in finding Wilbraham inside the area who found the corner of the goal with a calm finish.
Now ahead, Palace stepped on the gas and another header from the impressive Ward found Zaha who picked out Wilbraham but the new signing was unable to hit the target. On 32 minutes, the away side produced the move of the game and showed their dominance. Ward, Baxter and Wilbraham were involved in the build up resulting in a Zaha cross which found Baxter on the penalty spot who made no mistake in finding the net to put Palace 2-0 up.
After going two behind, Lewes searched for a way back into the game and apart from an Owen Garvan shot, they had the better of possesion and went close with a curling shot after some uncertainty in the Palace defence. However the home side couldn't make their short spell of possession pay off and were punished in the last few minutes of the first half. Zaha and Ward gave a warning when the former Portsmouth man put in a dangerous cross after a surging run. Baxter was again the creater fo the goal as he stormed through the middle before finding Zaha on the right who slotted home under the keeper to put the Eagles 3-0 up as the sides went in for half time.
Palace lined up with a completely different starting X1 for the 2nd half. Youngsters Alex Wynter, Ibra Sekajja & Bayan Fenwick started along with two trialists and Jonny Williams returning from injury. Palace had the first chance of the half as Dean Moxey's shot was saved well by the Lewes keeper. The home fans were finally given a reason to celebrate as a cross was smashed in to reduce the deficit to two goals just five minutes into the second period. An hour into the match, a well weighted through ball from Sekajja found O'Keefe and his cross allowed Williams to shoot but the young welshman was only able to win a corner.
A similar move five minutes later allowed Sekajja, in a more advanced role, to get in behind the Lewes defence. His cross evaded Jermaine Easter and the Lewes keeper but was met by the approaching Fenwick who fired home in emphatic fashion to restore Palace's three goal advantage.
Just minutes later, Easter narrowly missed the target with a free kick before going even closer as his shot on the turn struck the post with Murray missing the rebound.
The fresh legs of 75th minute substitute Ghussimo Sow allowed Palace to move the ball quickly up the pitch and another fluid move resulted in the goal of the game. O'Keefe found Easter who played a quick one-two with Glenn Murray before firing into the top left corner from the edge of the box.
Lewes were continually frustrated in attack with some solid performances from the Palace backline. At the other end, the energetic Fenwick was causing problems for his former club on 85 mins as he teased his way past three defenders before being brought down for a free kick. The youngster moments later found himself through on goal but failed to double his tally for the evening with the Lewes keeper making an excellent low stop.
A convincing victory for Dougie Freedman's side as they started their pre-season programme and now head to Dulwich Hamlet on Tuesday evening.
Palace 1st Half: Price, Ward, McCarthy, Ramage, Parsons, Garvan, Zaha, Baxter,Wilbraham, Appiah, Cadogan